- About the book
DetailsWhat is the relationship between writing systems and nationalism? How can different alphabets coexist in the same country? What is the destiny of the Cyrillic alphabet in Europe? Giustina Selvelli’s original work provides detailed answers to these far-reaching and potentially divisive questions and many more by examining several intriguing debates on topics of alphabets and national identity in a number of countries from the Balkan area over the course of the last 100 years. Following an encompassing perspective on alphabetic diversity, Selvelli, an expert on Southeast European Studies, reconstructs the ideological context of national discourses connected to the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, also taking a look at the Arabic and Glagolitic scripts, and interweaving issues on the symbolism of the alphabet with the complex recent history of the region, marked by the parallel influences of the East and the West. She also sheds light on the impact of a range of alphabet policies on ethnolinguistic minorities, proposing a new definition of “alphabetic rights” with special regard to the multiethnic legacy of the former Ottoman and Habsburg empires. This comprehensive book makes us discover the privileged role that writing systems played in the region’s delicate post-imperial and post-socialist transitions, leaving us captivated by peculiar stories such as that of the utopian “Yugoslav alphabet”.
- The author
About the authorGiustina Selvelli is Assistant Professor in Cultural Anthropology at the Department of Cultural History at the University of Nova Gorica, where she researches issues related to borders, migration, cultural diversity, and ethnolinguistic minorities. She received her PhD from Ca' Foscari University in Venice (2017) and was Erasmus Mundus Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Novi Sad with a project on Roma communities. As Senior Scientist in Multilingualism at the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt, she has taught courses on language and globalization as well as on writing systems and cultural heritage. She has also been a guest lecturer at the University of the Aegean in Mytilene and at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul with a seminar series on the Armenian diaspora and on the Ottoman legacy in the Balkans. In addition to her academic work, she is a journalistic contributor to the online newspaper EastJournal.
Reviews“A very important contribution to the study of national identities in the multi-ethnic and multicultural Balkan region. This is a very complex topic, namely the question of the alphabet, and is treated in relation to the important cultural and social consequences within the wider problems of modernization, nation-building, and Europeanization of the various states. Dr. Giustina Selvelli interprets the issue in the light of contemporary critical reflection, emphasizing the highly symbolic value of writing systems and their role in shaping cultural memory and national narratives, demonstrating excellent expertise and contextualization skills.”—Krassimir S. Stantchev, Senior Professor in Slavic Studies, University of Roma Tre, Italy
“Although the topic of language ideologies in the Balkans has attracted the attention of many researches in the fields of sociolinguistics and nationalism studies, none has focused its attention specifically on the question of writing systems. Giustina Selvelli's book makes up for this lack, examining the fascinating issue of graphic diversity and script reform in Southeast Europe, drawing on a number of previously unresearched sources, and combining a national identity perspective with an interdisciplinary and relational approach.”—Aleksander Naumow, Honorary Professor in Slavic Studies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy
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