Managing "Spoiled" national identity: War, tourism, and memory in Croatia

Lauren A. Rivera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


Approaching the public representation of a "difficult past" as a macro-level impression management dilemma, this article addresses how states manage reputation-damaging elements of their histories on global stages. Through an empirical case study, I examine how the Croatian government has represented the country to international audiences via tourism after the wars of Yugoslav secession. Challenging assumptions that contentious historical moments will be commemorated, I find that the state has managed Croatia's "difficult" recent past through covering and cultural reframing rather than public acknowledgment. The country has omitted the war from representations of national history and repositioned Croatia as identical in history and culture to its Western European neighbors. I draw from Goffman's work on stigma to explain the Croatian case and to develop a broader theoretical framework for understanding the conditions under which public recognition of reputation-damaging events is likely not to occur. I conclude by discussing theoretical implications for scholarship on collective memory, cultural sociology, and world polity theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-634
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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