Inner Otherness as a Source of Fear: Elements of Horror in Balkan Travelogues

  • Sanja Lazarević-Radak Institute for Balkan Studies SASA Belgrade
imageology, the Balkans, the Orient, geosymbolism, body horror, travelogue, hybridity


Travel fiction has created numerous Others, assigning them an ontologically unstable status, while the traditional travelogue spread a fear of the dark interior of Europe, presenting images of daily political strife, assassinations, wars and uprisings. Just like the Gothic novel, which entertained its readers with images of ruins and gloomy structures in Eastern Europe, the travelogue spread a fear of the Balkans through Europe, depicting the Balkans as a place that could pose a threat to the entire continent. While enjoying the mysterious terror of the Gothic novel, Europe also derived a kind of pleasure from the shocking images that were to be found in travelogues from the Balkans. The paper re-examines the elasticity of the boundaries of the travelogue genre, and identifies convenient transformations of certain parts of the travelogue into text aimed at inspiring terror, shocking and appalling its readers. The transformations show that it is impossible to draw a strict boundary between travel fiction and travelogues, and at the same time reveal the hidden discourse used by both genres. The parallel presence of awareness of the geographic identity of the Balkans as European, and of the aspiration to depict them as the strange inner Otherness of Europe, is accompanied by the production of terrifying images. Although these images cannot be viewed solely as a threat of "reverse colonization", the assumption that hybridity is the basis on which the terrifying nature of the Balkans is produced is re-examined. The travelogue chapters, sections and illustrations assume the features of horror, particularly body horror, revealing Europe’s fear of the possibility of the Orient infiltrating the "body of the Occident", or of the possibility of the latter being infected by elements of "alien" i.e. Oriental culture.


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How to Cite
Lazarević-Radak, Sanja. 2011. “Inner Otherness As a Source of Fear: Elements of Horror in Balkan Travelogues”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 6 (4), 949-65.