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  • Introduction
  • Anna Novakov and Svetlana Tomić

This special issue of Serbian Studies focuses on the contributions of Serbian women to the first and second generations of the "New Woman" movement that spread across Europe from the latter part of the nineteenth century to 1950. The second wave of "new women" was documented photographically and presented in 2011 in an exhibition entitled "Being Beautiful" at the Historical Museum in Belgrade. The exhibition presented images of the Serbian "New Woman" during the 1930s—wearing trousers and walking down city streets as well as lounging in stylish interiors. During this historical period, women worked to establish a public presence for themselves as teachers, writers, doctors, artists, and professionals in many other fields. Their entry into these uncharted territories resulted in remarkable work that revealed their professional struggles as well as professional advancements.

This issue coincides with three important anniversaries which are deeply intertwined with the Serbian women's movement. The first marks 150 years since the establishment of the High School for Girls (1863), which changed the traditional women's image and role in Serbian society. The second marks 100 years since the death of Katarina Milovuk (1913), the first principal of the High School for Girls, who held that position for three decades and as a true leader and bold feminist fighter succeeded in making a long-lasting impact on the Serbian women's movement. The third important anniversary marks 100 years of the publication of Srpkinja (1913), a compendium or the first biographical dictionary of Serbian women who made significant contributions to Serbian education, culture, art, science, and journalism with additional essays on male supporters and women in literature. We have no doubt that the link between these events was part of the development of Milovuk's visionary strategies. She knew that only an uncompromising fight on the part of well-educated women and professionals would lead to the growth of numerous exceptional female intellectuals who would impact Serbian culture and politics, thus making it possible for women who contributed equally to become respected, acknowledged, and accepted members of Serbian society. [End Page 1]

As is the case with the writing of any history, and especially with the writing of women's history, chronicling the women's movement in Serbia has been a challenge. The Serbian women's movement is still not well-known, although a number of attempts, ranging from papers to monographs and studies, have been made in order to reconstruct the main chain of events and leading figures. We are proud to acknowledge that among the scholars who researched the Serbian women's movement and key feminist figures (Ljubica Marković, Paulina Lebl Albala, Jovanka Kecman, Neda Božinović, Thomas A. Emmert, Gordana Stojaković, and Ljiljana Stankov) there are a number of researchers who published their essays in Serbian Studies (Biljana Šljivić Šimšić, Sibelan Forrester, and Gordana Stojaković), widening the scope of investigations on significant Serbian women in art, literature, philosophy, and architecture (Ljubica D. Popovich, Jasna Jovanov, Jovana Stokić, Vasa D. Mihailovich, Biljana Šljivić Šimšić, Jelena Milojković Đurić, Svetlana Tomić, George Vid Tomashevich, and Jelena Bogdanović) and the representation of women in literature and art (Biljana Šljivić Šimšić, Ljubica D. Popovich, Olga Nedeljković, Nancy Eyl, and Marija Mitrović). One need not mention what it meant to have these topics included in the first issue of Serbian Studies as legitimate scholarly themes at a time when women's studies was yet to come into its own in Serbia. Today, 20 years after the founding of the Women's Studies Center in Belgrade and Women's Studies and Research Center in Novi Sad and the scholarly journals Ženske studije (later Genero) and ProFemina, we can say that many scholars have contributed to the investigation of women's history in Serbia and some of the key issues of feminism. Nowadays, some of the founders and their works live in our memories (Neda Božinović and Žarana Papić), while others still teach and struggle for better positions for women in law, culture, and education (Svetlana Slapšak, Svenka Savić, Marina Blagojević, Gordana Daša Duhaček, Sonja Drljević, Jasmina Lukić, Zorica Mršević, Slavica Stojanović, Lepa Mlađenović, Jasmina...


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