National Imaginary in the Time of Milo
Publication Year: 2011
The central role that the regime of Slobodan Milo
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: New Anthropologies of Europe
This book has been long in coming. Some people influenced it directly by reading and commenting on the text as it slowly unfolded, others by providing models of how to think which I absorbed along the way, and still others by supporting and nurturing me in many material and non-material ways. Visibly or invisibly they are all present in the text....
When Tito died in 1980 it was as if his feeble successors tried to keep everything in Yugoslavia in a stasis by conjuring his ghost in the slogan “After Tito, Tito.” The standard of life went downhill and almost forgotten shortages appeared again as foreign loans had to be repaid, and as the cogwheels of flexible capitalism started grinding against the ever so ...
This is how one early July morning in 1975, from the top of the tallest Belgrade building, the Beogradjanka (lit., The Belgrade Girl), poet and writer Duško Radović greeted the city in what was going to become the legendary radio show, a city’s sound-signature, that left a lasting imprint on Belgraders’ self-understanding and everyday speech. The show was ...
2 Serbia’s Position in European
Starting in the mid-1980s the dominant Yugoslav rhetoric of self-management socialism, brotherhood and unity, and non-alignment came to be increasingly upstaged by the narratives of national identity. These narratives fed off one another in an escalating spiral and provided the ideological justification for the wars that tore the country apart in the ...
3 Highlanders and Lowlanders
In his 1994 New York Times article on the war in Bosnia, John Kifner (1994) draws our attention to “the rocky spine of the Dinaric Alps, for it is these mountains that have nurtured and shaped the most extreme, combative elements of each community: the western Herzegovinian Croats, the Sandžak Muslims, and, above all, the secessionist Serbs. ...
4 Tender-hearted Criminals and the Reverse Pygmalion
Stone, mud, and asphalt are substances that figuratively distinguish groups and exalt or debase identities. In their various oppositions and alignments they stand for highlanders vs. lowlanders, urbanites vs. peasants, the civilized vs. the barbarous. Dvorniković showed how these recursive distinctions and metaphoric continua could easily get ...
5 Serbian Jeremiads: Too Much Character,Too Little Kultur
At the televised July 1994 session of the Serbian Parliament debating the issue of control over the regime-run television channels, a respected singer of Medieval Serbian spiritual music, Pavle Aksentijević, acting as a member of the largest opposition coalition (DEPOS), brought a tape recorder to the podium and played a recording of a contemporary ...
6 Glorious Pasts and Imagined Continuities: The Most Ancient People
...“It was in the early autumn of 1985 when by some Ostap-Benderesque1 diplomatic swindle a charlatan from Mexico came to Yugoslavia and proclaimed the mouth of river Neretva to be the location of the ancient Troy,” wrote Svetlana Slapšak in her essay “How It All Started.” She recounts how the domestic experts at the presentation the charlatan ...
7 Narrative Cycles: From Kosovo to Jadovno
To praise highlanders or to denounce their violence and arrogance in favor of lowlander peacefulness and rationality meant to position oneself at different ends of a particular dimension in the quality space of Serbian politics. Along other dimensions, both highlanders and lowlanders could be collectively opposed to cosmopolitan urbanites. ...
8 “The Wish to Be a Jew”; or, The Power of the Jewish Trope
In their quest for the most powerful metaphor, the most extreme analogy, the allegory that would top any other allegory, the Serbian mythmakers, spearheaded by Vuk Drašković, embraced a rhetorical strategy in the 1980s that I call the Jewish Trope. Serbian narratives of martyrdom and suffering, of exile and return, and of death and resurrection ...
9 Garbled Genres: Conspiracy Theories, Everyday Life, and the Poetics of Opacity
In the winter of 1993 Serbia and Montenegro were under the strictest sanctions ever imposed by the United Nations and undergoing one of the highest hyperinflations in the world’s economic history. Belgrade journalist Nenad Stefanović described the seemingly endless line of people ...
10 Mille vs. Transition: A Super Informant in the Slushy Swamp of Serbian Politics
The temporal “navel” of my research in Serbia was in 1994 and 1995, the time when Milošević decided to force the Bosnian Serbs to consolidate their territorial gains and press for peace. This 180-degree turn toward peace culminated in his signing of the Dayton Peace Accord at the end of 1995. During that period both Jeremiads and conspiracy ...
Conclusion: Chrono-tropes and Awakenings
In conclusion, if I had to summarize in one sentence, I would say that it has all been about an exaggerated, larger-than-life, megalomaniacal story of Serbian innocent victimhood. It started with Kosovo and it ended in Kosovo—Kosovo as both a concrete place and the central imaginary topos of the Serbian ethnonationalist myth. This story should ...