Vlad Beronja and Stijn Vervaet, eds. Post-Yugoslav Constellations: Archive, Memory, and Trauma in Contemporary Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Literature and Culture. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.

1 = page number
“…” = quote of book text
“… “…” …” = text in quotation marks in book text
‘…’ = quote in book of another text (source)
[…] = my notes
= summary or paraphrase of book text



Vlad Beronja and Stijn Vervaet. “Introduction: After Yugoslavia-memory on the ruins of history.”

1 + 3-5 Three different regimes of truth [as defined by Foucault as “the types of discourse [society] harbors and causes to function as true”] or memory

  • socialist Yugoslavia: WWII / Partisan resistance, brotherhood and unity
  • mid-1980s+: ethno-nationalist and victim-centered narratives, genocide, reburials
  • mid-aughts+: Yugonostalgia, anti-fascist and socialist legacy’s political relevance, continuity of “shared cultural and linguistic space”

[Three different versions of history within a generation.]


  • hard memory = site-specific = monuments, museums
  • soft memory = deterritorialized = novels, memoirs
  • somewhere in between = location-based but temporary = performances, exhibitions

6-7 post-Yugoslav art as

  • a tool for mediating memory / remembering,
  • alternative archive contesting dominant discourses
  • a tool for transcending ethnic/national boundaries and imagining alternative forms of community and identity, with “transnational solidarity and cosmopolitan citizenship”

cultural memory = “performative engagement with the past”

Vladimir Biti. “Remembering Nowhere: The Homeland-on-the-Move in the Exile Writing of Saša Stanišić and Ismet Prcic.”

62-63 For exiles, “the disquieting nowhere is not only the birthplace but also the destination of their operations of remembering. There is no-thing waiting at the end of the journey, no terra firma that would soothe the restlessness. In both spatial and temporal terms homeland turns out to be something missing, displaced into elsewhere. (…) [Homeland is not] something to be possessed but…something that one is always dispossessed of anew.”

Sanja Potkonjak and Tomislav Pletenac. “The Art and Craft of Memory: Re-Memorialization Practices in Post-Socialist Croatia.”

65 Quoting Holm Sundhaussen: At the end of the 1980s, “Yugoslav ‘memory’ was broken into a series of national ‘memories.’ Before these were created, heroes of Yugoslavia had to fall.

67 + 69 Quoting Ann Rigney:

  • Collective memory is created through group communication, commemorations, “transgenerational transmission,” texts, public art…
  • Monuments remain tools of memory as long as their meaning is preserved by recycling their discourse and commemorations.

68 Connerton: memory entails forgetting, which is especially necessary after traumatic events

Halbwachs: the group that remembers determines the content of collective memory (that which is remembered)

[Hence Yugonostalgia is merely a competing narrative/collective memory discourse to the dominant nationalist/neoliberal ones.]

69 Croatia: newly dominant community formed around a national project by selective remembering (and forgetting), political manipulation of collective memory, repression of the cultural memory of anti-fascism, and promotion of cultural memory of WWII’s NDH / War for Croatian Independence.

71 Mariane Hirsch: concept of post-memory = not a recollection but “memory mediated by imaginative investment, projection, and creation” i.e. activating past events whose effects continue in the present

72-75 Siniša Labrović: Bandaging the Wounded

  • performance at Sinj monument Memorial to the Fallen Soldiers of Cetininjska Krajina, whereby he cleaned the memorial and then treated the memorial’s wounds (water, ointment) and bandaged them, as if the memorial were a person
  • aim: to illuminate humanism of antifascist memorials while authorities approve of their and their memorial heritage’s destruction (re: destruction of anti-fascist memorials in the 1990’s and beyond) and individuals who used to share the experience of anti-fascism fail to take a stand against such forgetting; to demand the right to remember
  • “concern for the memory of the wounded hero represented by the memorial”
  • today = post-utopian time in which anti-fascism no longer features in community’s values and its heroes become “anonymous subjects of history, distant and unknown” while the collective/individual trauma the memorials represent fades into “non-remembrance”
  • “Devoid of living memories, anti-fascist memorials thereby become arbitrary reminders of unsuitable and conflicting narrations of history.”
  • official forms of memorialization “hegemonize the space of memory and the right to remember past suffering,” are on the collective level and ruled by the state vs. individual memorialization and remembrance
Ajla Demiragić. “What Remains of Mostar? Archive and Witness in Marcela Sunjić’s Goodnight, City.”

129-130 Jasmina Husanović:

  • references to Yugoslav socialism are systematically prevented in post-war Bosnia as a “strategy of inducing…historical amnesia” the elites use to distract people from their misuse of power
  • historical amnesia is created through “the depoliticization of memory” – mythologization, medicalization, and disappearance

130 Tactics include

  • shifting the socialist past into consumerism (objects, “artifacts”)
  • national heritage cultural/educational programs
  • obstruction of access to archives
  • renaming of streets
  • limiting the documentation/archival function of dedicated institutions
  • destruction of monuments

Ann Rigney: art can create “oppositional memory,” a “counter-memorial, critical force” which undermines the dominant narratives of the past

Husanovic: cultural and literary products create new practices of memorialization/remembering

144 Dubravka Oraić Tolić, 2005: “It was not just the disappearance of an ideology, or its institutions…but also of all forms of life. In the end, it was a loss of identity of all who lived in that world, regardless whether that world was someone’s home or prison.”

Tatjana Jukić. “Post-Socialism Remembers the Revolution: The Comedy of It.”

149 “The post-Yugoslav imaginary depends on post-socialism for its constitution… (…) Yugoslavia…cannot be properly understood outside its socialist agenda. [T[he post-Yugoslav imaginary seems most productive where it addresses what was specific to Yugoslav socialism,” especially the revolution [home-grown, out of anti-fascist resistance, rather than imposed from the outside] as the founding event. [YU experience is thus closer to USSR and Cuba than other socialist countries.]

Nikola Dedić. “Yugoslavia in Post-Yugoslav Artistic Practices: Or, Art As…”
  • …remembrance
  • …an archive
  • …a counter-public sphere
  • …a class critique of neoliberalism

[It’s possible everyone sees in Yugoslavia what they want, their own thing; multiple interpretations, multiple meanings, multiple functions.]

Activist art platforms:

  • Učitelj neznalica
  • Medijska arheologija
  • Abart
  • Prelom kolektiv
  • Grupa Spomenik
  • Kultura sećanja
  • Četiri lica Omarske
  • Kontekst kolektiv

169 Miško Šuvaković, 2011:

  • ex-Yugoslavia = countries which became independent after Yugoslavia
  • non-Yugoslavia = nationalist identities/ideas started at the same time; “the belief that Yugoslavia is impossible and has totally ended” – dominant political/public discourse
  • post-Yugoslavia = ideas about a network/relationship of ex-Yugoslav countries “for presenting the idea of Yugoslavia in a historical sense”
  • neo-Yugoslavia = “Yugoslavia is possible” as “a potential political future”

172-175 Nostalgia

  • most common form of remembering Yugoslavia
  • links personal and collective memories
  • depoliticized narrative, replacing communist policies with “a kitsch fixation on various forms of culture and items of the defunct socialist everyday” or, politics with culture (Boris Buden)

185 Učitelj neznalica: Yugoslavia fell apart when her model of social property changed to private property.

Goran Musić:

  • capitalist transition in Yugoslavia began in the 1980s when managerial elite emerged, incl. Milošević and Kučan, planning to go from market socialism to market economy (free market was their economic program)
  • Milošević: first tried to re-centralize the YU market and create local institutions to protect the national markets and elite interests
  • nationalism was Milošević’s instrument to overcome socialism and get closer to the West
  • Serbian national interest was aligned with Serbian economic interest

187 Post-Yugoslav art is on the left, just as radical Yugoslav art was (Yugoslav constructivism, Partisan art)

188 In post-Yugoslav art, Yugoslavia is neither nostalgia or restoration but rather “a form of negating the current social status quo, thus a fresh attempt to rethink social alternatives through a critical view of the past.”

Damir Arsenijević, Jasmina Husanović, and Sari Wastell. “A Public Language of Grief: Art, Poetry, and Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Bosnia.”

263 “Cultural production…was intrinsic to the making and breaking of the state that was the former Yugoslavia. Literature, poetry, and theater did not simply reflect a mobile political climate; they helped to direct the winds of change that would sweep over it.” Both literature and poetry continue to be mobilized for political purposes in ex-Yugoslavia.

Martin Pogačar. “Digital Afterlife: Ex-Yugoslav Pop Culture Icons and Social Media.”

280 Online “the forlorn Yugoslav socialist past is continually getting a new life or, more precisely, a digital afterlife.”

281 Much of this online content is created retrospectively, which “reveals a certain retroactive refurbishing of dead people’s lives.”

“this desire to reassemble the Yugoslav past…emerges as an attempt by users to endow their individual biographies with a sense of normalcy and to recreate the past and present as a particular epoch.”

282 Boris Buden: mediatization of the every day makes the past a cultural rather than temporal category, it’s everywhere like culture

Online, the past “lives on and contributes to our understanding of the present primarily through re-presencing the events, topics, issues, personalities, ideas. (…) the past re-presenced through grassroots memorials and commemorative practices also…obscures the historicity of that past.” Historical facts suffer, replaced by a nostalgic, affective version of the past.

“digital ghosts” = an individual’s “digital remains”

284 Social media provides

  • an outlet for “media externalizations of personal experiences of living in socialism”
  • a “forum to voice discontent with the present-day state of affairs”
  • a “response to the transition-induced devaluation of post-Yugoslavs’ individual biographies”

285 YU culture survives through, inter alia,

  • mix tapes
  • Balkan parties
  • flea markets

Media archaeology resembles browsing at flea markets, except it’s for images, videos, and sounds.

286 Social media function as “cyberplaces of memory,” media for micro-archiving.

288 “through media externalizations and circulation of curated content, the past in such re-narrations becomes a present worthy of consideration.”

Digital memorials are “specimens of the digital afterlife of the country”

292 “Yugo-schmerz” = nostalgic expressionism to elevate the past and contrast the present

Nostalgia and agency are intertwined

“dissolution of Yugoslavia…left many people with a life’s worth of illegitimate pasts”

“through social media…the country never really became a thing of the past”

Social media activities related to Yugoslavia are an

  • “attempt to reaffirm personal dignity”…


  • …”to make sense of the post-socialist transition and war-torn history…
  • …to endow individual biographies with a sense of normalcy”
  • “acts of resistance to denying epochality to the post-socialist condition”
  • “a way to resist self-marginalization within a broader perspective of making individual histories constitutive and consistent parts of each post-Yugoslav’s present”