SERBIAN THEMES ACROSS A VARIETY OF CEU PRESS PUBLICATIONS
“The High Representative has been a conflict-aggravating institution, hence, the international community is part of the problem, not a solution.”—from a book on post-Dayton Bosnia.
The Woehrel report to the US Congress in 2013 “misrepresents both Dodik’s and Croat politics in BiH. An inattentive reader will assume that Dodik, or somebody from RS, was the main culprit. The process, however, was actually undermined jointly by one Bosniak-Muslim (a very much pro-state and centralist-oriented) Stranka za Bosnu i Hercegovinu and one smaller Croat party from the BiH Federation, Hrvatska demokratska zajednica 1990.”
“Both Bosnian Croat and Serb elites view the revision of Dayton as still tolerable and not sufficiently dramatic to justify a more determined attempt at the overturn of the system through a blockage of the institutions or of the political processes necessary to the regular functioning of the institutions (e.g., elections).”
“We may never again have such an opportunity to render our country ethnically clean. If we do not solve the minority problem now, we will never solve it.”—wrote Vasa Čubrilović in November 1944 to the newly established communist authorities.
An essay in the volume on intellectuals and the totalitarian temptation discusses this historian’s road from the Young Bosnia conspiracy in 1914 through an ethnic cleansing campaigner in 1944 to an opponent of the spirit of the SANU Memorandum in 1986.
“After the war, Čubrilović was propelled by the Yugoslav communist government to Minister of Agriculture. In this position he was closely engaged in land reform and colonization, therefore overseeing some of the ethnopolitical goals he set.”
“Venturing into academic politics, he increasingly focused on developing cooperation with neighboring countries, gradually becoming instrumental in the revival of Balkan Studies in the 1960s.”
Titles from the backlist, contemporary topics on top, older themes below.
“The Serbian film Sisters centers on a trafficking case, from the recruitment of young Serbian women to their exploitation, being forced to provide sexual services, and their trauma and survival.”
A book on film and media representations of human trafficking in the Balkans.
“Sisters also shows that the traffickers are not exclusively men both perpetrators and trafficked people are Serbian and the case is one of domestic trafficking. Unlike Western productions, this film is not interested in focusing on the West as the demand side of trafficking, but explores the perils of its own society.
While the detail that the brothel is in Serbia is shared with the viewer, Maria, Katarini, and three more women believe that they are in Italy.”
“Films such as Spare Parts (Slovenia, 2004), Lady Zee (Bulgaria, 2005), The Melon Route (Croatia, 2006), Sisters (Serbia, 2011), and Face Down (Bulgaria-France, 2015) prefer to tackle the moral erosion and social and economic devastation of these East European societies as a result of the transition from collapsed socialism to unstable democracies.”
“Post-Milošević governments—declaratively of pro-European and democratic orientation—continue to misuse and exert control over the media in a more subtle way.”
Assessing the international media assistance in the Balkans.
“B92’s director and figurehead, used to say that B92 was the real public service broadcaster in Serbia, providing honest and reliable information to citizens. Yet B92 was subsequently sold by its owners in mysterious circumstances to a business group based in Cyprus.”
“Almost 25% of the total income of the Serbian media comes through advertising from the state budget.”
“Stifling of the media by the new government, led by the Serbian Progressive Party, became increasingly obvious in 2016 and the result is that few independent mainstream media outlets continued to carry Center for Investigative Journalism Serbia stories regularly.”
“The new nationalist regimes in Croatia and Serbia also realized that their justifications of rule had to employ a political vocabulary that was at least partly shared with liberal democracy.”
The past twenty-five years of east-central Europe in the perspective of intellectual history.
“Czechs recall the historical record of good relations between the two countries, in particular the Little Entente signed after World War I; the solidarity with Serbs in regard to Kosovo was intertwined with Czech nationalism.”
“The feminist discourse on democracy in Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s works along three major lines of conceptual interpretation: 1) feminists saw civil society and active citizenship, mostly in the sense of ‘ethical civil society,’ as the carrier of democracy, 2) they placed emphasis on democracy as being incomplete unless women were included and patriarchal values overwritten, 3) nonetheless, they treated democracy as a counter-concept to nationalism and xenophobia on the one hand, and state socialism on the other”.
Sixteen essays on the two alternative value systems in Serbia after Milošević: liberal, cosmopolitan and civic on the one hand, and traditional, provincial, nationalist on the other.
“The Serbs played, and continue to play, an enormous role in the narrative of the Croatian ‘imagined community’ and today’s political conflicts almost always refer to conflicting ‘memories’.”
Developments in post-communist memory politics in Serbia are discussed in a comparative collection.
“Just as the Germans have not forgotten Goethe on one hand and Auschwitz on the other, the Serbs must maintain the memory of both the liberation struggles and Srebrenica, and the Croats should not peremptorily separate ‘Operation Storm’ from Jasenovac.”
“The war of the 1990s has its place in the Serbian culture of memory alongside earlier wars—only that this particular war is seen as the biggest defeat of the Serbs since the Battle of Kosovo: (a) ‘war hawks’ still complain that the tactics were wrong; (b) ethnic ‘patriots’ claim that rather than safeguarding Yugoslavia, the focus should have been on Serbia.; and (c) ‘proud patriots’ maintain that the nation suffered not only defeat but humiliation as well.“
“Snježana Koren’s textbook is the only one to mention the civil war between the Partisans, the Serbian-royalist Chetniks and the Ustasha, and thus places the experience of the civilian population in a precise historical context.”
The comparative analysis of how the East-European mindset adapted to capitalism is based on detailed description of cases from eight countries, including one on a rural development program in the Topola region, one on business consulting firms in Belgrade as well as on the privatization of Serbian breweries.
“Uninterested in the legal outcome of the trial, Milošević took considerable pleasure in using cross examination in order to abuse witnesses, who were time and again bullied by him. He viewed the trial as a political forum to address his audience in Serbia”.
“Had the trial been less ambitious, it could have ended with a verdict. Yet Milošević’s unlikely appearance in front of the international court signifies a major breakthrough in the area of establishing accountability on the highest level and for eroding the impunity of state leaders.”
The collateral effect of the infamous footage filmed by a Serbian paramilitary unit called ‘The Scorpions,’ depicting the execution of Muslim civilians in the vicinity of Srebrenica in July 1995 cannot be overemphasized.
“Instead of the industrial–military complex, we in post-Yugoslavia had the poetic–military complex, personified in the twin figures of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić.”
An essay by Slavoj Žižek on Karadžić in a volume on the literary output of despots.
“Yugoslavia in the 1970s and 1980s was like the proverbial cat in the cartoon that continues to walk above the precipice—it only falls down when, finally, it looks down and becomes aware that there is no firm ground beneath its legs. Milošević was the first who forced us all to really look down into the precipice.”
“It is all too easy to dismiss Karadžić and company as bad poets: other ex-Yugoslav nations (and Serbia itself) had poets and writers recognized as ‘great’ and ‘authentic’ who were also fully engaged in nationalist projects.”
Was Yugoslavia an artificial creature, as viewed by many after its dissolution? Dubravka Ugrešić's The Museum of Unconditional Surrender (1997) challenged such a dismissal of the country as hollow and insincere, noting the genuine suffering of individuals at the loss and destruction of their country, their identities, and their friendships. The volume on women and war as mirrored in the arts discusses another émigrée Croatian woman writer: Slavenka Drakulić's novel narrates the traumatic destiny of a young teacher who finds herself imprisoned in the so-called "women's rooms", in which Bosnian women were repeatedly violated by Serbian soldiers.
Yugoslavia in the last conversations of the Cold War superpower leaders.
Gorbachev. What’s happening with Yugoslavia?
Baker. There is disagreement within the EC about the tactical approach in this matter. In particular, between Germany and other EC countries, which they do not want to aggravate.
Bush. Indeed, Germany came forward with the recognition of Slovenia. We could note our concern about the events in Yugoslavia, call on everyone to respect the ceasefire, and condemn the use of force. Let the Yugoslavs decide their own fate through negotiations.
Bessmertnykh. We have a joint position in support of Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity. The question is whether to mention it in a statement. It is a question of tactics.
Baker. Perhaps the presidents could voice their support for the Berlin statement, but we should avoid loaded wording like territorial integrity and self-determination. Self-determination is what the Germans are insisting on.
Gorbachev. Even a partial breakup of Yugoslavia could create a chain reaction that will be worse than a nuclear reaction. July, 1991
“You spoke with representatives of Serbia and Croatia. Do you think it was helpful?” Bush asked Gorbachev, not without a hint of malice. November, 1991
“No single community has had such significance in the dissolution of Yugoslavia and yet found itself as marginalized and instrumentalized as the Serbs of Kosovo”. A collection of essays on how the Kosovo conflict evolved in history and historiography, in global context, and what are the current social and political realities.
“Ranković subjected the Albanians to ill treatment, but his suspicion of and ruthlessness toward any kind of nationalism, not just Albanian, was notorious. Tito played the father of all Yugoslav peoples, leaving it to Ranković to take on the repressive role of police minister”.
“As of 2011, roughly 40,000 persons, mainly Serbs, were dependent upon the Serbian government for salary or social welfare payments… The weak socio-economic situation also affects Serbs, especially those living in the South, where most Serbs have limited access to the more developed urban centers. Kosovo Serb politicians themselves frequently noted to the author the lack of an elite as a major problem”.
The fresh interpretation of the contexts, meanings, and consequences of the revolutions of 1989 dedicates a separate chapter to the Serbian intellectual community: why Dobrica Ćosić did not become Havel.
“In 1938, the book by Rudolf Bicanic argued that with the emphasized role of the state in economic life, the Serbian authorities put Croatia as well as Slovenia, Bosnia, and Vojvodina in an economically inferior position.”—from a collection of essays on the nationalism-economy nexus.
“Serbian authors rejected Bicanic’s argumentation. Due to the strong Croatian-Slovenian competition in the changed circumstances after 1918, the Serbian economy was supposedly unable to take advantage of all systemic incentives of what was in an economic sense a paternalistic state with a clearly expressed intention to protect or strengthen the Yugoslav industrial entrepreneurship.”
“In the mid-1980s a group of Serbian members of the Academy presented their outlook on Serbia in the Yugoslav state in a memorandum. The authors stated that in Yugoslavia after 1945, Serbia had been politically and economically inferior, even discriminated against.”
Students were instructed to remove the pictures of Marx and Tito from the walls and poles around university buildings and dormitories. Ironically it happened at the heyday of communism in Belgrade in 1968 after the students had renamed the University of Belgrade “Red University Karl Marx” and started wearing badges that portrayed a red pointer arrow in a blue circle, relating that the red referred to themselves and the blue to the color of the police uniforms surrounding them.
The student protest is described and analyzed in the book that begins with education reforms that took place in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1960s and ends with the post-conflict development initiatives in its successor states today.
According to Tito’s ideologists, the medieval Bosnian heretic sect of the Bogomils developed some kind of ‘socialism’ and abandoned the ideology of the Eastern and the Western Church. In 1950, the catalog of the monumental exhibition of Yugoslav medieval art in the Palace of Chaillot in Paris claimed that the autonomous third way on Yugoslav soil had chosen the Slavic apostles Cyril and Method, as well as the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian writer and art critic Oto Bihalji-Merin, a promoter of the ‘third way,’ compared Tito and his partisans to the rebellious Bogomils.
The collective book with 35 contributors that analyzes artistic interactions both within the Soviet bloc and with the West between 1945 and 1989.
“As early as the end of 1953, the Yugoslav government established a federal commission for international cultural exchange. Up to the end of the 1950s, there were at least twenty major surveys of western modern art presented in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubljana, accompanied from 1956 by numerous exhibitions based on direct exchanges between Yugoslav and foreign museums or on private contacts”.
“The premiere of the Partisan spectacle entitled The Battle on the Neretva was attended by its main actors from abroad—Sergei Bondarchuk, Yul Brynner, Franco Nero, Orson Welles etc.”
A monograph on the Americanization of Yugoslav culture in the sixties.
“Yugoslavia ‘exported’ to East Germany the physical trainer from Belgrade, Gojko Mitić, who was the most famous Indian behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1960s he made films in which Indians were depicted as heroes and American soldiers as criminals.”
“Observing that jazz had fallen onto favorable soil in Yugoslavia, Washington moved to support directly the popularization of jazz, and in May 1956, Dizzie Gillespie gave two concerts in Belgrade.”
“In the small Serbian city of Svetozarevo twins born on the day of the American landing received the names Neil and Edwin, after astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin.”
“What is communism?,” Belgrade hippies responded, “Something beautiful and very far away.”
“Serbian citizens did not fulfill the requirements to carry a work permit as a midwife, although Orthodox people made up more than 40 percent of the residents in Bosanska Krajina. The Austro-Hungarian rulers’ fear led to a formally strict policy against everything and everyone ‘Serbian’.”
A volume on the intertwined relationship between public health and nation building.
After the break between Tito and Stalin, Centers for Social Work were founded in Yugoslavia. Their functioning “was characterized by the tension between professional social work and bureaucratic demands of paperwork. Social work professionals could choose to work for, along, or against either of these professional and bureaucratic norms.”
“Contrary to the unemployment agencies, the Centers increased their help to the needy, although the coverage of social aid benefits remained small after the 2008 crisis.”
“Social workers extended social aid to families when the eligibility of the recipients was in doubt, although it became increasingly not strictly legal to do so.”
“The Kingdom of Serbia was one of the first signatories of the 1883 Paris convention on industrial property, which was later succeeded by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.”
A book on the expansion and institutionalization of intellectual property norms in the twentieth century.
“Yugoslav copyright in some way mirrors the geopolitical positionality of Yugoslavia in the Cold War, between East and West but also its position vis-a-vis the rest of the world.”
“Whereas copyright legislation in the interwar period programmatically professed the intention to turn the author into a proprietor of his labor, social reality clearly defied the intentions of the legislator. The opposite was the case in communist Yugoslavia, whereas copyright legislation recognized property rights, it based its protection of the author on his/her right to remuneration and autonomy.”
“Reproduction rights for radio, television, and the press were often subsumed under forms of free use.”
Anti-Serbian sentiments were well summarized by Pavelić’s maxim: “A head for a tooth, ten heads for one.” – From a monograph on Ante Pavelić and the Ustasha movement.
On 30 April 1941, a law decree “On Croatian Citizenship” established: “Jews and Serbs are not citizens of the Independent State of Croatia, though they may live in the state.” Citizens of Serbian ethnicity were compelled to wear a colored band on their right arm.
“In the national consciousness of Yugoslav Serbs and Jews, Jasenovac was the symbol of the annihilation policy applied to them by the Independent State of Croatia.”
“Chasing the German army resulted in the death of about 30,000 partisans, most of them young students and intellectuals hailing from the best Serbian families, recruited after the region’s liberation.”
“After the Croatian Spring, the Serbs of Croatia regained positions of power in public administration, as well as within companies and the media. Titoist centralism once again prevailed.”
“Western and Eastern Europe are two separate worlds that have been in constant struggle. In this conflict the Serbian people have always been on the side of the East, with a few exceptions such as when they fought Islam, but even then the masses of the people turned away from the West with disgust, once they got to know it better… The Orthodox Church is more harmonious with the human mind and with its needs and development than the Roman Catholic Church. It is therefore clear why the Orthodox Church is a national church; why it is tied to and cleaves to the soul of the people who profess it to a greater extent than the Roman Catholic Church can do… West European states were created by sword and brute force, and they have developed on the basis of struggle and competition. A Slavic country, especially Russia, which is the purest representative of Slavdom, has started its development with communes”.
Besides these quotes from Nikola Pašić, Anti-modernism, the last volume of the grand CEU Press undertaking features also Vladimir Dvorniković, Nikolaj Velimirović, Živojin M. Perić, and Svetislav Stefanović.
“The Edison Electric Society introduced electricity in Belgrade in 1894, which was only one year after Rome, and one year before electricity was introduced in Milan.” This was an exceptional moment of grace on the controversial modernization processes of Belgrade, blocked by political bickering over nearly a century.
“In premodern political culture, the ‘political other’ was not perceived as an opponent but as an enemy against whom, as an opposition deputy remarked in the National Assembly, all means were legitimate. Schisms between political parties, between current and previous governments, between the municipal and the central government made it practically impossible to resolve the city’s most pressing problems".
Considering Pasvanoğlu Osman Paşa’s reputation as a ruthless reactionary it may come as a surprise that the enemies of the Ottoman state with whom he palled around included Kara George, the leader of the first Serbian Uprising. “At the dawn of the 19th century alliances were made, violated, and remade not on abstract principles of national liberation, but on the immediate expediency of local politics”.
By exploring the development of ethnic diversity and national tensions, the contributors to this edited volume challenge the readers to engage in a new way of thinking about the region and Balkan studies in general.
“The programmatic national document ‘Nacertanje,’ published in 1844, outlined the aspired territorial expansion of the state, embraced cultural assimilation as a way of spreading the influence of the Serbian nation to populations outside of the current territory of the state”.
“For the Serbian language, the policy of maintaining the current standard makes sense also because those dialects on Serbian territory that are most different from the current standard are closer to Macedonian and Bulgarian, just as Kajkavian Croatian is closer to Slovenian.”
Specimens from texts, relics in majority, that paved the road to national identities, presented in four seminal volumes already, include Serbian authors from Obradović (1783) and Karađorđe (1806), through Vujić (1828), Dejanović (1871), Ruvarac (1887), Santić (1896), to Skerlić (1913).
Serbs and Serbia in monographs:
- The Jesuit mission in Belgrade in the 17th century and during the Austrian rule before 1739;
- The life story of a Serbian woman, Natalija (1880-1956), based on her diaries and other memorabilia;
- A comparative intellectual history on how socialist and social-democratic ideology emerged as an option of political modernity in the Balkans;
- The wars that turned Bulgarians and Serbs against one another are also discussed in the monograph on modern Bulgarian history-writing;
- Scrutinizing intellectuals’ role in the evolution of nationalism: Ćosić (a novelist), Popov (a painter) and Mihajlović Mihiz (a literary critic);
- Was Velimirović, the philosopher bishop anti-Semitic?
- The epistolary of Predrag Matvejević (Yugoslav dissident and émigré in Rome);
- The quest for an eternal identity: what makes a Serb?
- Probably the most exhaustive book on women’s Serbian literature ever published;
- On the responsibility for collective crime done in the past decades across the world;
- The same issue analyzed from the points of view of constitutional law and legal philosophy;
- The roots of conflict in former Yugoslavia;
- Wartime victimization of refugees in the Balkans;
Also, great many precious chapters relate to Serbs and Serbia in collective volumes of CEU Press:
- Hundreds of references to Serbs as travelers, and to Serbian cities, customs, personalities as described in the travel writing in past centuries; accompanied by scholarly analysis of the phenomenon;
- Entries on the following Serbian women: K. Atanasijević, D. Dejanović, B. Jovanović, D. Ljočić, M. Ninković, Ž. Papić, and I. Sekulić in a biographical dictionary;
- The ‘Dinaric man’ as the prototype for a ‘Yugoslav superman’ is discusses in our book on eugenics in east and central Europe; and in the same series on medical and hygienic conditions on the Balkans to 1945;
- National identity posed dilemmas for Serbian political thinkers all through the 20 th century; it was a concern to poets, too, as was the case of Zmaj;
- Two essays in the volume on Christianity and modernity touch upon the Serbian Orthodox Church;
- The analysis of the impact of 1968 discusses also the Yugoslav repercussions;
- A CEU Press book that breaks new ground with its subject: investigating tourism in communist Yugoslavia.
Serbian culture will keep its high profile at CEU Press, reaching a height with The Slave Girl by Ivo Andrić.