Analysis Of Bruce Bairnsfather 's One Of Those Balkan Muddles

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Bruce Bairnsfather’s cartoon, “One of Those Balkan Muddles,” depicts a dejected soldier who is profoundly confused about his nationality and identity. The man does not seem to possess a clear ethnicity or home country, thus neither does he possess a true citizenship. He is not specifically tied to any one people, geographical area, or culture. This caricature reflects a comedized reality for many people living within the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during and prior to World War One. The Empire was a confusing, heterogeneous mixture of several ethnicities forced into a single citizenship and state. As a real-life example, the imperial census of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1910 caused problems when it asked subjects to state their identity. The official criterion was the language spoken, yet controversy raged when other officials argued for “history, geography, anthropology and ethnography” as the key criteria. Divisively, “Emperor Franz Joseph, at the head of a dynasty which was supposed to be supra-national, put himself down firmly as German on the census form” . Bairnsfather’s cartoon soldier is the personification of Empire’s lack of clear collective identity, and thus lack of true citizenship. This issue will eventually lead to the dissolution of the Empire into several constituent states.
The epoch that the cartoon was drawn in was defined by the emergence of a central force in geopolitics: The nation-state. The force of nationalism, neither benevolent

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