Miljenko Jergovic at Eurozine:
However, as I made my way through the endless crowds and neared the end of Wroclaw's enormous, bazaar-like market, I realised that instead of getting more interesting, more select, more redolent of the past, the goods simply became cheaper and tattier, until finally they just turned into rubbish. In among this rubbish were a few items from the socialist period: the odd Soviet badge bearing the profile of Vladimir Lenin, a broken Romanian water heater, and piles of vinyl records featuring the kind of second-rate Western pop that had probably meant something to someone in the Poland of the 1970s and 1980s. But there was nothing of local provenance, nothing original, nothing that bore the stamp of the city or its collective memory. It was as if Frankfurt had preserved more of itself in the wake of the air-raids of 1945 than Wroclaw could muster for the entire period prior to 1990.
I was disappointed, but not exactly surprised. I felt as if I was at home in the Balkans. Our own open-air markets frequently look pretty similar: a mountain of cheap clothes, but very little in the way of history or memory. In essence, that is what the Balkans are today: a worthless pile of cheap clothes, without history, memory or true identity. It is from this basic pattern that all of today's Balkan nationalisms have been cut. And it is only by means of these bloodthirsty and mindless nationalisms that politics and culture in the Balkans can be recognized.