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What is the character and extent of the Byzantine political-legal legacy? The contemporary discourse on political institutions uses new language to describe old mechanisms for accommodation and decentralization phenomena: millet systems, internal diasporas, population displacement of enclaves, consociation, asymmetric federalism, and even democracy as a part of modern institutionalized network systems. Employing Michel Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical method, we tap into the undead body of Byzantine political legacy in order to show and extract the legacy of a specific ‘spirit.’ In other words, we identify the existence of a very specific sites which emerges from within a non-Being (in Plato’s sense): a specific spirit whose technologies eventually trickled into the Ottoman political practices, and continues to influence regional politics. The argument is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the Hippodrome in Constantinople as a site where theatricalization emerges. Mime and comedy associated with theatricalization became tools to delude the demos. the second part identifies and connects the institutional strategies of relocating/juggling, and thence ‘freezing’ the population and its distinctions. Within the millet system of the Ottomans this political tactic contributed to the formation of an arrested specific self.

Accordingly, the socio-political aspect of this study concerns the persistent, underlying uniformities which contribute to identity formation within the Balkans from the Byzantine period to the present. the focus is on the continuation and/or restriction of identity formation as a part of a particular authoritarian legacy. The objective is to highlight and explain the particular authoritarian legacy or spirit which survives, inhabiting and constraining, self-formation and identity of individuals and modern states. While the old empires are not alive, their spirits haunt and sicken contemporary politics with the vileness of the zombie-like undead.

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Review of Nationalities