The ikon and the axe: An ecological approach to Yugoslav disintegration, 1991--1998

Peter Hearns Liotta, Salve Regina University


This study examines from an “ecological” or holistic perspective factors that influenced the entity once named Yugoslavia. Drawing from the etymology for “ecology” (that is, working out the “logic” that supports the “house”), the research considers how the combined influence of these factors, from 1991–1998, contributed significantly to both the structural collapse of the former Balkan nation-state and to the continued instability of the present states of the former Yugoslavia. ^ These ecological factors—the logic supporting the “house” once known as Yugoslavia—align with social, economic/political, and historical/religious identities. This dissertation examines these identities as humanities responses during the most brutal conflict in Europe since World War II (1991–1995) and during continued Yugoslav disintegration from 1995–1998. Technological influences and human realities, this study suggests, complicated the attempts of divergent “Yugoslav” factions to adapt to a post-Yugoslav environment. ^ The influence of technology and its various impacts include the consideration of alternate Zeitgeists in Eastern and Western Europe as a result of the Cold War, military intervention as an instrument of coercive diplomacy and as an human influence during the period 1991–1998, and the use of a strategy of chaos to counter American and NATO technological military predominance. Democracy and economic market reforms in post-Cold War Europe are also technological “means” intended to produce positive effects. Finally, the study considers the significance of historic and religious differences among Balkan peoples. ^ This research challenges numerous assumptions made and conclusions drawn about the death of Yugoslavia. The “ecological” method, however, does not suggest prescriptive solutions to the problem of state disintegration. This study's major contribution lies in its examination of the technological and human contradictions that led both to the ending of Yugoslavia and to the continued uncertain future of the South (“Yugo”) Slavs. ^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Cultural|History, European|Political Science, General

Recommended Citation

Liotta, Peter Hearns, "The ikon and the axe: An ecological approach to Yugoslav disintegration, 1991--1998" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations (Off Campus access). AAI9949664.