Transborder Capital Flows and Imperialist Nationalisms in Serbia, 1860-1914: Finance, State Formation, and the Geopolitics of Irredentism

Indigo Carson


The origins of nationalism are necessarily transnational, emerging through interactions with, exclusions of, and comparisons with the other. Less often studied is how the internationalisation of capitalism materially influences the evolution of nationalism by transforming the strategies of reproduction available to elites both within and outside the state. This essay examines how international finance and the burgeoning arms trade became implicated in the articulation of Serbian nationalism in the decades leading up to the First World War. In illustrating how the reproduction and expansion of the Serbian state, and particularly its military establishment, came increasingly to be imbricated in transnational flows of credit and armaments, it complicates historical narratives that have prioritised the cultural and intellectual underpinnings of Serbian irredentism in the period before 1914 and after. Rather, as the nationalist mythology of ‘Greater Serbia’ became a device to unite and legitimate the dynastic-military axis of the state, this mythos compelled the state into greater reliance on external resources for its material reproduction and the realisation of the nationalist project, ultimately leading to the expansionism and domestic state crises that contributed to the outbreak of a general European war. By exploring the intersection between the material and ideological bases of state formation and reproduction in direct relation to the historic and transnational forces of capitalism, this research contributes to a theorisation of how the articulation of states and nationalisms in regional and global peripheries are moulded by globalisation.

Imperialism - Nationalism - The State - Uneven and Combined Development - War - Geopolitics - International Finance