In the summer of 1988, in the midst of Yugoslavia's crisis which ultimately led to its dissolution and wars, the Belgrade daily "Politika" opened its pages to readers' comments. It was an unprecedented editorial decision for the largest broadsheet in this still socialist country. "Politika" was flooded with letters from their predominantly Serb readership from all over the country. During the three years which followed, it published this outpouring of accusations and protests against Serbia's enemies - real and imagined, domestic and foreign, contemporary and historical - in the form of more than four thousand letters.

Using the latest advances in natural language processing and a unique dataset on the characteristics of the letters' authors, we analyse this corpus of unprecedented significance and provide crucial insights not only on the history of Yugoslavia's breakup, but also on the sources and patterns of the discourse of grievance and animosity in the run up to a violent conflict.

Legend: Topics

  • Party
  • Constitution
  • History
  • Army
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Economy
  • Violence
  • Religion
  • Nationalism