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Table of Contents
- Luthar, Breda, and Maruša Pušnik, eds. Remembering Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia. Washington, DC: New Academia Publishing, 2010.
- Breda Luthar and Maruša Pušnik. “Introduction: The Lure of Utopia: Socialist Everyday Spaces.”
- Videkanic, Bojana. “First and Last Emperor: Representations of the President, Bodies of the Youth.”
- Petrović, Tanja. “Officers Without an Army: Memories of Socialism and Everyday Strategies in Post-Socialist Slovenia.”
- Pogačar, Martin. “Yugoslav Past in Film and Music: Yugoslav Interfilmic Referentiality.”
- Pušnik, Maruša. “Flirting with Television in Socialism: Proletarian Morality and the Lust for Abundance.”
- Starc, Gregor. “Sportsmen of Yugoslavia, Unite: Workers’ Sport between Leisure and Work.”
- Igor Duda. “Adriatic for All: Summer Holidays in Croatia.”
- Taylor, Karin. “”SOBE”: Privatizing Tourism on the Workers’ Riviera.”
- Luthar, Breda. “Shame, Desire and Longing for the West: A Case Study in Consumption.”
- Hanno Hardt. “A Face in the Market: Photography, Memory, and Nostalgia.”
[Just as socialism cannot be understood without considering its banality (everyday, ordinary life), so nostalgia. Both are on the personal, private level of micro-history.]
“the more the lived, internal memories of socialist Yugoslavia are lost from year to year, the more they are maintained by some exterior signs—’sites of memory’ [Pierre Nora]—spaces with a residual sense of a specific socialist Yugoslav continuity. These sites of memory may function as the border stones of the socialist age; they are moments of history [quoting Pierre Nora] ‘plucked out of the flow of history, then returned to it—no longer quite alive but not yet entirely dead, like shells left on the shore when the sea of living memory has receded.'”
Two kinds of memories of socialist Yugoslavia [Maurice Halbwachs model]:
- inner, internal, personal, or autobiographical memory of people
- exterior, borrowed, social, or historical memory”
Gender aspect to study of socialist life: everyday life relates to the domestic sphere, associated with women; life in the public sphere is masculine (work, sports, popular culture events)
Yugoslav socialism “operated with significant popular consent for the moral leadership of communists” [victory in WWII, re-establishment of country, spurring of Stalin, non-aligned states, prosperity, living standards, consumer culture, open borders]
[Yugonostalgia as an echo of habitual/routine everyday practices, personal relationships, social institutions, and popular consciousness in socialism, at the intersection of coercion and consent with power and ideology. “the working of state power at the level of ordinary life”]
“Symbolically, Yugoslavia was the result of a Western gaze imposing its hegemony on the non-Western periphery. The otherness of socialist Yugoslavia was defined in terms of its peripheral position and backwardness and in terms of the particularity of its socialist ideology/values. There was a constant sense of secondariness in Yugoslav identity. [But only vs the West; vs the East there was superiority; both, however, disappeared after breakup.]
Quoting Pierre Nora: ‘We seek not our origins but a way of figuring out what we are from what we are no longer.’
Memory of May 25 (Day of Youth & Tito’s birthday) or November 29 (Republic Day) featured two types of celebrations [both of which are included in and selectively recalled from the memory of them]:
- “exclusive official ceremonies/spectacles emphasizing formality, reified symbolism, hierarchy, and authoritarian aesthetics of mass rituals”
- “inclusive unofficial celebrations/carnivals with picnics, rock concerts, drinking on the verge of drunken orgies, dancing, and socializing with a language of its own.”
Everyday practices show the limits of official (state, party) power/control and how people’s use of such official rituals, laws, representations deflects and subverts that power/control. [Perhaps nostalgia is also a yearning for being able to do so, in the face of help/hopelessness of the present, of capitalism, where power is much more diffuse and also there is less of a safety net of job, apartment, car, healthcare, education etc to catch you if you fall.]
“In the daily life of Yugoslavs the polytheism of scattered practices/tactics served as a space of confirmation of the status quote and as a space of resistance to the status quo.”
[Yugonostalgia is also a yearning for a particular quality or feeling of life – ‘structure of feeling’ [Raymond Williams] – at a place and time, for ways in which actions, practices combined into or generated a certain frame or foundation for thinking and living, and for a certain communal, collective way of looking at the world and sharing of referent points beneath the everyday.]
“Memories and sites of memory are indispensable for reconstructing the socialist network of small daily practices that governed everyday life in Yugoslavia. In their collective or individual form they testify to remembering or recollecting Yugoslav socialism as a meaning-making cultural activity, which grants meanings to past practices.”
Debates of socialist past are ubiquitous across CEE, with communism’s legacy helping to structure cultural identities. “Also in the countries of the former Yugoslavia we witness a kind of struggle with the socialist past.” Two forms exists:
- “a nostalgic cultural relationship to Yugoslavia is structuring the process of remembering”
- “a redefinition of the Yugoslav past is shaping collective and individual memories of people”
Interpretations of numerous cultural artifacts and media representations (movies, music, posters, ads, apparel with YU themes, basketball league with teams from every republic, popularity of [now discontinued] .yu domain) as (Yugo)nostalgia and a way of longing for the socialist past are too narrow and simplistic and romanticized. Overlooked is “the commodification of the past of Yugoslavia, socialism, and especially of Tito, which has spread through different popular, promotional discourses, and which actually only invent, create, and foster Yugo-nostalgia.”
“Yugo-nostalgia should be treated as a cultural product of a specific economic context of post-socialist societies” rather than “as a growing nostalgic yearning for the Yugoslav past and an intrinsic characteristic of people’s relation to the past”
“Yugo-nostalgia is also an institutionalized form of commodified styles or sets of practices involved in complex processes of remembering and forgetting.”
a “tourist relationship” to history is increasingly common [Marita Sturken], so “Yugo-nostalgia is embodied in various Yugo texts and objects” representing “a kind of “kitschification” of memory and the past.”
Memory nowadays is increasingly produced where media and consumerism intersect.
Definition of Yugo-nostalgia as loss and yearning for what is unattainable ignores the complexity of how the past actively engages with the present and future.
“Yugo-nostalgia should be reconsidered as a form of selective remembering, or as a strategy of dealing with the past by creating continuity where discontinuity should be.” Recalling the disappeared YU-socialist environment.
“Yugo-nostalgia should not be treated simply as a people’s intrinsic wish or yearning for a return to socialist Yugoslavia” because it is rooted in the legacy of 1990s wars, hardship and corruption during the economic transformation to capitalism and transition to democracy.
“Yugo-nostalgia should be reconsidered as a manifestation of the second stage towards post-socialist normalization, following the first phase” of “the criminalization of the communist regime and distancing from it.” [building on Dominic Boyer]
“The reality of living in small, unknown countries creates feelings of longing for a large and well-known country, such as Yugoslavia. Yugo-nostalgia is [also] a yearning for a vast territory, and for security and safety offered by the vastness of Central or Middle Europe.” Re: Renato Rosaldo’s ‘imperialist nostalgia’
“Yugo-nostalgia is the projection of a utopian past into the future of post-socialist societies that have emerged from Yugoslavia. What is called Yugo-nostalgia is a broader transference of utopia—the ideal social arrangement, well-being, and prosperity, order, and safety—into the everyday realities and uncertainties of the present living conditions. The romanticization and idealization of the past overlooks that a desire to return to the Yugoslav socialist past grows with unstable or risky conditions in post-socialist societies; the latter struggle with global economic and cultural flows while positioned between the socialist legacy and a sudden confrontation with the neo-liberal capitalist economy.”
Uncertainty and insecurity is fertile ground for nostalgia: “Yugo-nostalgia may offer comfort through a utopian vision of safety, justice and reassurance, borrowed from the fantasies of past socialist worlds.”
Writing about YU socialism in post-YU countries “is under severe pressures of revisionism, which—as the opposite of nostalgia—leans toward the denigration of this past. Numerous political debates…have been focused primarily on the redefinition and moral assessment of socialist society and its regime. There appears to be a very powerful, politically motivated need to redefine the role and the meaning of a common Yugoslav socialist past according to present conditions.”
“In general, these politically motivated historical narratives about the Yugoslav past are based on a selective treatment and interpretation, which either underestimates the whole era and reduces its importance in recent history or reinterprets the experience of the socialist period solely through two perspectives.”
- Reduction of the Yugoslav experience to aggressiveness and dictatorship of the LCY. This misses people’s individual experience and the good parts about socialism
- Redefinition of the shared experience of Yugoslavia’s antifascist past. WWII’s National Liberation Front and the Partisan movement were “the central signifiers of being Yugoslav.” Today the Partisans are equated with the communist revolution and its totalitarian aspects, including repression, censorship, poverty, nationalisms, cult of Tito, and imprisonments.
“Former Yugoslav societies are facing political instrumentalization of the past, which is an attempt to build an ideological consensus of how to perceive the Yugoslav past. Remembering and forgetting are imposed in the present political climate since selective remembering is one of the most important mechanisms of surveyance among contemporary power structures. They result in shaping people’s memories because social memory is always the selected presence of the past.”
Building on Halbwachs: Since individual recollection relies on social memory, society erases things from memory that separates its members or distances its groups from each other and rearranges the recollections so as to adjust to the changing circumstances.
When Yugoslavia disintegrated, old Yugoslav signifiers were no longer suitable for the new conditions, so the nations constructed nationalized discourses moving away from the shared Yugoslav experience (brotherhood and unity). References to totalitarian aspects of communism and uniqueness of national experience became prominent.
Building on Katherine Verdery: Partial descriptions (reinterpretations) of the past become reality in public consciousness and collective memory, restructuring identities. “Such historical revisionism introduces the historiography of oblivion.” It doesn’t just revise the past, it deletes the memory of certain past events.
“both historical revisionism and nostalgia promote a new politics of truth which rearranges past events either to justify the current situation and to legitimize certain political actions or to romanticize the past and to replace present conditions with escapism and curiosity”
“the politically and culturally produced amnesia of Yugoslavia’s socialist past cannot be ignored. These representations of the Yugoslav past, which also relate to some typical myths of East Central Europe, push the collective memory of these societies through significant changes. In the case of Yugoslavia we might argue that its history is not what is revealed, but rather what remains hidden.”
Videkanic, Bojana. “First and Last Emperor: Representations of the President, Bodies of the Youth.”
visual representations of Tito:
- point to the symbolic and actual space which his body and image occupied in public and private realms – power of omnipresence of his image and its symbolic existence and interaction with citizens’ bodies
- underline the complexity of his power as both totalitarian/dictatorial and friendly – ‘a rich combination of power and intimacy’ [Maja Brkljacic]
- have the character of “secular religiosity”, combining adoration and symbolic exchange
example: Day of Youth
“ultimate ritualized event in which specific kinds of powers were transferred from person to person, from territory to territory and from the nation to the president.”
Like a medieval relic, the relay baton enabled citizens to touch the leader’s body, which was “a universal signifier of power.” In the carrying of the baton citizens shared in the power. In TV and other representations, Tito’s body subsumed all other representations of the State.
The event (and others like it) “provided a ritual, symbolic network through which Yugoslavian society renewed its commitments to shared ideological mechanisms. The cohesiveness of social networks was created through ritualized process of public spectacle.”
Amitai Etzioni: rituals like public holidays recreate society by worshipping shared objects
Public spectacles extended Tito’s body into citizens’ consciousness and transferred power to him while generating unity among citizens through and with Tito’s body. He was embodied through/by the citizens and their relationship with him and through public events where the embodiment took place.
“this and other similar spectacles served to create a sense of unity among the peoples of Yugoslavia [and] initiate the youth into the body of the state.”
Day of Youth embodied all elements of socialist life:
- presence of the leader
- secular rituals
- youth as the country’s greatest asset
In Yugoslavia “the cultural, symbolic, or representational affiliations constructed in the time of communism have structured public consciousness and influenced ways in which citizens have identified themselves.”
The spectacle overwhelmed citizens through their senses and they became part of the socialist whole by physically participating or watching.
“affective work of visual representation” = physical impact of the visual
Participants in the spectacle embodied the narrative and ideology through their bodies in a secular ritual.
“the feeling of life” generated from these repetitive, sequenced rituals provided an identity to citizens
Not just intellectual acceptance of the acts but also emotional and bodily identification. Body became common property.
Through the rituals, “the youth were conscripted into the corpus of the nation.” A sequence of events pointed to Tito as the father figure whose body (voice, clothes, gestures) then transmitted affect back to the youth. “The youth were…actively rebuilding the body of the president through their own bodies.”
Youth played an important role in the (re)construction of socialism, especially brotherhood and unity. They were one of the symbols of socialist culture, along with Tito, workers, farmers, industry, and development.
The change in 1957 of Tito’s birthday to Day of Youth “enabled him to engage the potent symbol of youth and wed it to his own benevolent/paternal representations.”
The relay created “a symbolic network through which all parts of Yugoslavia were joined.” [Ivan Čolović] This network constructed through the bodies of young people and interconnected across the nation also symbolically recreated the president’s body. While carrying the youth batons, citizens symbolically outlined an image of Tito, carved into the land itself, and into the geography of each region. The landscape of the country became the landscape of Tito’s body transforming the entire nation into his physical presence.”
The translation of Tito’s aging body into the bodies of youth transformed him into an immortal, similar to the way royals substituted representations for the king’s physical presence.
“symbiotic relationship between the leader and the people”
The events at the JNA Stadium “were created as sites of remembrance of the past,” which was relived through the bodies of both participants and spectators. But it was mostly youth “who were remembering corporeally, by reenacting history which symbolically passed through their bodies as they created mass floats representing Tito’s name, Yugoslavian flags, peace symbols, or Communist Party insignia…”
Through these spectacles young people were educated about the past and about what the future holds for them. Tito’s speeches combined reminders of the past and previews of the future. “This didactic linking of the past and the future through young bodies was meant to represent the continuation of the communist revolution.”
[Nationalist narratives which look to the past lack the future orientation of the communist regime.]
Tito always appeared both far away and close, friendly yet separate from the masses, almost like a saint to his believers.
This served to immortalize Tito “by being in an anachronical space.” His presence was transformed into an image [which can never die]. It was subsumed in everything, an ultimate presence, yet separate, a religious icon.
“it was the power of the leader, his symbolic and actual corporeal presence in everyday socialism that held the country together.”
[footnote to chapter]
Yugoslav culture = “multiple meaning making processes from popular forms of music and entertainment to avant-garde cultural productions” + “official cultural products and projects sponsored by the state, incl. military marches, parades, and general public holidays, imbued with ideological constructs focusing on Tito and his role and importance in the socialist struggle, as well as the larger notion of the country as an entity, which needs to be constantly defended and kept alive. The usual language of such constructs always reminded citizenry of the history of their country, Tito’s heroic role in organizing that history, and the future, which is ahead.”
“dark communist past” = idiom used in early 1990’s by politicians to distinguish themselves from an evil period, used as a political/ideological weapon to assert nationalist discourses to separate the freedom of nationalism from un-freedom of totalitarianism. “this kind of approach created an amnesiac view of history through which the 50 years spent in communism were truly left in the dark without ever really coming to terms with the legacies that that period has left.”
Politicians and journalists consider nostalgia for the socialist past as signs of “moral weakness, irrationality, or inability of individuals to find their way in the ongoing social and economic transformation.” Nostalgia for socialism is seen as “deviant, surprising [given the benefits of democracy and capitalism were just starting to show], unnatural” as well as “threatening” to democracy and the democratic transition.
In former Yugoslavia, since the breakups of the system and the country coincided, “post-socialist nostalgia cannot be separated from [nostalgia] from a vanished country.”
Further complicating factor: 1990s wars of dissolution
Nostalgia for socialism = restorative nostalgia [Boym], characteristic of “collective identity strategies” and a “pervasive aspect of making the post-socialist future.”
In Serbia, beginning in 1988, the Youth Baton was replaced by relics of saints and poets.
Yugo-nostalgia contrasts with nationalist ideologies of the new state and is used as an accusation.
Post-socialist nostalgia in academia analyzed in two waves:
- Political science: Dealing with political consequences on democratization and politics, including elections
- Anthropology: Concrete experience of people, attitudes/values/memories, constructions of identity in East-West, socialism-capitalism, totalitarianism-democracy; discursive expressions, visual manifestations
Post-socialism unfavorable to former JNA officers living in Slovenia:
- Because JNA officers were moved to different republics, lived in parallel social networks limited to JNA and Yugoslavia-specific ones (“society within society”, with parallel military-only services and infrastructure, including housing, education, healthcare, holidays, shopping, cultural centers and performances), and enjoyed perks and privileges as part of an essential Yugoslav institution, post-socialism left many without their country (stranded in “foreign” countries), perks/privileges, sense of professional experience, and outside social networks.
- They are stigmatized for having been opposed to independence; considered a security threat; and, as non-Slovenians, excluded from the homogenizing nation.
Ways of remembering socialism depend on current social status and experience; discourse of remembrance interacts with current prevalent public discourse.
Former JNA officers in Slovenia don’t use nostalgia to verbalize their memories of socialism.
JNA officers = social group, pillars and guardians of Yugoslav unity (sent to different republics from their own to foster bratstvo i jedinstvo); their personal fate was intertwined with the country’s
Slovenian film Outsider = 2nd most popular in the country, “recognized by many as the first Yugoslav film produced after the fall of Yugoslavia”; tragic end coincides with Tito’s death
Wars of dissolution imparted a negative image on them as they (allegedly) fought against the country’s independence in 1991.
In new countries, there was no place for Yugoslav legacy and hence former JNA officers. They were left without social structure and recognition and respect and authority, were not integrated into majority societies, and live in difficult circumstances with limited social rights and security.
1992: 18,000 permanent non-Slovenian residents were erased from official records and struggled to regain legal status, including about 500 former JNA officers.
Non-Slovenes faced more discrimination in employment, treatment by police, political participation, interactions with state authorities, etc.
People from other former Yugoslav republics were depicted as uneducated and backward, and were stigmatized and scapegoated by nationalists.
Prevalent myth and imagery of struggle for independence and crucial role of Slovenian Territorial Defense.
JNA officers are lumped together in the public eye regardless of their role in the 10-day war.
Though their story, ideals, beliefs became outdated and impossible to be heard in the independent Slovenia, most former JNA officers over the 20 years of Slovenian independence managed to resolve their issues and live as pensioners. Some even published memoirs.
JNA officers’ narratives are “anchored in the past” and mostly concerned with why and how the country disintegrated in violence; they see the violent breakup as “their personal drama and failure” regardless of their actual role. They also talk about their life in Slovenia.
Taking on responsibility isn’t a function of the new nationalist narrative but rather “a consequence of their deep personal investment in the army and the blending of their private and professional lives.” This investment generates “an emotional burden for the interpretation of the past, which is narratively expressed by linguistic means of repetition”
Still, like most former Yugoslavs, they do talk about the politicians’ responsibility and people’s naivety.
Comparison of (positive aspects of) life in the past and (negative aspects of life) in the present in the narratives is rare because such a discourse would conflict with the dominant public discourse in Slovenia and be considered disloyal and opportunistic. Except in the case of comparing the JNA and the professional Slovenian army, which lacks “patriotism, devotion, and moral values.”
“Similar to other forms of remembering, nostalgia is about the production of the present rather than the reproduction of the past. To be able to interpret and justify one’s present position through the discourse of nostalgia, one must rationalize the past by attaching secondary meanings to memories and past objects and events. For that one needs to distance oneself from the past and to perceive it as finished as remote.”
For former JNA officers, their past is disconnected from the present but no social world replaced the socialist one. The lack of substitute means the past (socialism) never ended for them and their present is an extended past. Most keep Tito’s portraits on their walls.
Quoting Martin Pogačar: In flea markets, Tito’s portraits are placed next to ‘items that have no connection to the former Yugoslavia. Thus, the remnants of the Yugoslav experience blend into a wider picture of nostalgicising evocations of the past, which goes to show that in this bricolage of various items, the precise origin loses its importance and they start to figure as fragments applicable to a particular person’s interest or memory.’
In the homes of former JNA officers, by contrast, the portraits have no secondary function and remained where they were in socialism, i.e. on their walls, “because there was no acceptable ideological substitute for the JNA officers to replace socialism.”
“Since the Slovenian society does not leave them any space in which to act as social subjects and to reinterpret or justify their beliefs, views and decisions, the former JNA officers cannot transform their memories and objects from the past into nostalgia. For the same reason, they cannot distance themselves from their memories and employ them in their demands for respect and acknowledgment from society.”
“Having only the past as a space for making sense of their social existence, these former officers maintain practices and rituals that are typical for that past and incompatible with the present.” E.g. they maintain connections with fellow officers in Slovenia and other republics, meet up in Slovenian resorts, travel to Belgrade for reunions, publish socialist-looking books for Officers Academy graduation anniversaries. “They live in a continuous past, in which Tito’s portrait on their apartment walls appears to be the only natural decoration.”
1985 composition of JNA officer corps (vs. % in Yugoslav population)
- Montenegrins 5.98% of officer corps vs. 2.58% of Yugoslav population
- Croats 12.51% vs. 19.74%
- Macedonians 6.74% vs. 5.98%
- Muslims 3.65% vs. 8.92%
- Slovenians 2.64% vs. 7.82%
- Serbs 57.17% vs. 36.3%
- Albanians 1.09% vs. 7.72%
More than 50% of Serbs were from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The imbalance is explained by economic factors (people from disadvantaged regions were most interested in well-paid and respected military careers) and Serbia’s warrior tradition and high esteem for the military profession.
Many officers from other republics living in Serbia (800-1000 in 2006 according to Danas) also live in difficult circumstances, particularly housing.
A 2003 opinion poll in Croatia showed Tito as one of the greatest Croatian historical figures. A 2004 poll in Slovenia showed an increasing number of Slovenians hold a positive view of Tito: from 63.9% in 1998 to 79.5% in 2004. A 2007 poll showed that number to be 81.4%.
Pogačar, Martin. “Yugoslav Past in Film and Music: Yugoslav Interfilmic Referentiality.”
Indications of a growing interest among all generations of Yugoslav movies:
- retrospectives of famous directors
- reruns of films and series
- growing sales of DVDs
Francois Truffaut: ‘When the shooting is over, the actor can die for all I care, I’ve got him on film.’
“If the “actor” is replaced by the “country,” (“shooting” speaks for itself) then the statement attains a rather different meaning when talking about the dead country and its cinema. Cinematically speaking, Yugoslavia lives on.”
[2011 documentary Cinema Komunisto opens with the words “This is the story of a country that no longer exists, except in movies.”]
Film (TV and cinema) production was intertwined with second Yugoslavia – ideological potential to disseminate regime values, especially brotherhood and unity.
Interfilmic referentiality – actors migrate from one film to another, playing similar, archetypal roles, thereby creating “a commonly recognizable symbolic universe.” While it’s happening (during Yugoslavia), it functions as a “common field of cultural experience.” Afterward, in retrospect, “it construes the symbolic universe of the past. Thus, this past can be seen indeed as a “foreign country,” yet made close and familiar with the faces and characters.”
Interfilmic referentiality helped create a YUniverse with narratives like heroic anti-fascist past. “Today, the referentiality contributes to nostalgic discourses that are often closely related to or intertwined with identity-quests of people who lost their homeland, families and friends—people whose lives were marked by abolition of the common past and inhibition of the future.”
“Today, both film and series figure as narratives of an unfulfilled striving for a more just social order and better future. Even in the post-Yugoslav times when the “better and fairer” has supposedly substituted the previous “criminal” regime, the utopic ideals cherished in Yugoslavia are still valued today, albeit from a different setting.”
The rise of television (in Slovenia, where they had access to Italian and Austrian channels):
- disseminated socialist ideology, which appropriated people’s leisure space as a productive (vs consumptive) and instructive/educational practice;
- subverted/eroded socialism by mixing western-urban with modest-working-socialist discourse;
- capitalist content undermined socialist ideology;
- internal socialist production space opened to external capitalist consumption space;
- offered some space for resistance, “although not necessarily in the sense of rebellion and radical changes, but rather in the sense of recodification and adaptation of hegemonic socialist ideas”;
- use of TV sets and practice of TV watching reshaped leisure time (reorganized to program schedule), domestic rituals (family watching), consumer practices (ads spurring consumption and shopping trips to Trieste), and social spaces (from kitchen to living room, from around the table to around the TV set).
Starc, Gregor. “Sportsmen of Yugoslavia, Unite: Workers’ Sport between Leisure and Work.”
Yugoslav state worked to control leisure and leisure sports in particular. Nothing was compulsory and non-participation wasn’t sanctioned, but those who did participate were controlled.
Principles of socialist physical culture:
- Universality: Sport was to develop the entire person, not just the body and its parts.
- Utilitarianism: Sport helps fulfill other goals like “moral upbringing or increased work abilities.”
- Health: Sport helps improve and maintain health.
- Mass participation: Everyone who is capable should engage in organized sports in various associations.
Pleasurable and educational, sport was a tool for building the working community, socializing, and attracting masses for collective activities.
Many sports activities were organized in work organizations (companies):
- After-work practices of various sports like volleyball, football, basketball; teams represented companies in syndicate (industry) games
- Active breaks during work time during every shift.
- Company trips during weekends and holidays.
- Sports in company vacation facilities, e.g. swimming, tennis, basketball, skiing, bowling, etc.
“the informants were constantly expressing…nostalgia [for company trips] and a romanticized view of the relationship between the companies and the workers. They were also expressing strong senses of belonging to their companies [including both themselves and their families]. This was especially evident in their remembering of their family vacations that most often took place in the work organizations’ holiday facilities.”
In Slovenia, one state tool for organizing leisure sports survived: Trim, featuring paths in parks and forests equipped with wooden training equipment.
The regime considered and tried to turn leisure into a productive, educational activity contributing to improving work efficiency.
Igor Duda. “Adriatic for All: Summer Holidays in Croatia.”
peak number of registered tourists in late 1980s at 20M, of which 40% foreigners mostly from West Germany, Italy, and Austria
- Post-WWII, mass tourism in Europe became a general trend due to higher incomes.
- Border crossing to/from Yugoslavia was easier than Soviet Bloc countries, beginning in 1955 (partial opening) and especially in the 1960s (in 1967 abolished visa with Italy).
- Yugoslav state encouraged tourism as a mass activity (“tourism for all”) and perk of the regime [and perhaps even an element of fostering brotherhood and unity with people from various republics going elsewhere, albeit especially to Croatian seaside].
- Beach holidays were the most popular recreation.
Adriatic seaside had a leading position in the tourism industry.
Additional factor: vacation with pay.
Most important trigger: social tourism, organized and subsidized by state and organizations it controlled, especially the trade union and the tourist associations, through financial benefits for workers and odmarališta (subsidized vacation centers)
Why the Adriatic?
- Mediterranean beaches = attractive summer vacation area with health and relaxation benefits.
- “the image of the Adriatic Sea had a distinct place in the national identity and self-perception of Croatia and, in broader sense, Yugoslavia. Hence, the sea was a matter of national pride and swimming in it a must for domestic holiday makers.
- Construction of facilities and vacationing on the coast was cheaper than in the mountains. There were many options, from staying with friends to camping to camping to private accommodations (sobe; especially in the 1980s) to odmaralista to hotels to own homes…
Vacations on the Adriatic = “conspicuous tourist practice in Yugoslavia”
The Adriatic coast and the sea “was a national pride and important for the identity of coastal republics”, most visibly in Croatia whose socialist coast of arms featured the sea. The landlocked republics “also developed a strong attachment to the Adriatic Sea, cultivated as a common element in the supranational identity of Yugoslavia. It became “our sea” and as such a strong argument in nation-building.”
School children learned about its natural beauty, history of invasions, coastal towns’ cultural and architectural heritage.
Tito loved it too: He had an oft-visited residence of Brijuni Islands of Istria, Yugoslavia’s “second capital.”
Impact of tourism:
- Investment in tourism accelerated the development and modernization of infrastructure.
- The development of domestic tourism created the need to escape.
- Western tourists boosted Yugoslav consumerism.
Taylor, Karin. “”SOBE”: Privatizing Tourism on the Workers’ Riviera.”
Due to under-capacity, private rooms helped enable tourism (for others) and consumerism (for providers and generally in destinations).
[Among informants] people’s recollections of involvement in tourism during the socialist era dwelt on experiences of growing prosperity and feelings of having enjoyed a “good life” without the worries and fierce competition of the contemporary business. Nostalgia for a time when catering to tourists had seemed a secure, congenial and almost matter-of-course activity invariably washed over critical recollections of the organisation of tourism in socialism.”
“It is an axiom of oral history that the process of remembering reframes the past in the light of the present.”
Tourism became mass phenomenon by the time Adriatic Highway was completed in 1965.
The need to attract foreign tourists and provide “holidays for all” helped integrate the small-scale private enterprise of private accommodations into socialism. It was a way to participate in the Yugoslav economy of self-management.
From the 1960s the coastal lifestyles became homogenized as more and more towns and villages joined in in the tourism boom, chiefly to cater to foreign tourists.
“in their memories people (re)constructed their role as hosts as genuine and motivated by real sentiment for their guests. Most [informants] felt that this sentiment had been lost in the post-socialist era. Today tourism seemed predicated on impersonal relations—symbolized by the substitution of the room in the family house with the tourist apartment—and the principle that “money rules.””
The country was a destination not for elite tourism but for ordinary people offering modest comforts and “unostentatious recreational opportunities in naturally beautiful surroundings.
Adriatic tourism helped Yugoslavs feel they were part of consumer culture similar to Westerners.
“holiday for all” = “core value of the Yugoslav socialist program”
Luthar, Breda. “Shame, Desire and Longing for the West: A Case Study in Consumption.”
Some of the strongest memories of life under socialism entail “the lack of desired goods [and] the culture of shortages”.
Shopping trips to Tieste = quasi-institutionalized cultural practice/phenomenon, which began in the late 1950s, became “frequent and regular social events” in the 1960s and a “mass shopping frenzy” in the 1970s.
Memories of a form of consumption under Yugoslav socialism.
The past is organized with reference to the present. “Remembering is always a reconstruction and representation of the past and not a recording of the past, and has more to do with invention, the present, the imagined and representation than with what actually happened.”
Memories and stories are thus “the active production of meaning” and “an interpretation of events.” They represent “a counterhistory or, rather, call into question the official history and at the same time show how memory of a relic of history can enable the integration of micro- and macro-level investigations and thereby an understanding of the total history.”
Oral history gives voice to the everyday of the past which is central to the relationships of power.
Consuming the goods purchased in Trieste helped construct individual and social identity.
Differentiation of earnings created social stratification, especially along education and lifestyle, with material goods as symbolic markers/displays of taste and social affiliation, e.g. to a newly emerging middle class (urban, dual income, free education, travel).
Informal relations with people using relatives, friends, acquaintances and coworkers to obtain goods/services was an aspect of sociability in socialism. Such an informal or gray economy allowed people to have “a good life.”
Women tell “their stories”, nostalgically linking the desire for goods and ways of obtaining said goods with memories of youth and with “yearning for the community and extra time for sociability in socialism.” It wasn’t about having little but about being/doing things together. Women also recall “the sensual and aesthetic aspects of goods,” telling of longing for them, pleasure from having them, and emotional attachment to them. They internalized the goods more.
Men try to reconstruct the history, with nostalgia more about [quoting Boym] ‘the unrealized dreams of the past and visions of the future that became obsolete.’ While women’s role was shopping, men’s was the logistics (driving, changing money, communicating with border authorities).
Trieste shopping trips were outside of everyday social life, a freedom of a kind, and aspirational to the Western lifestyle.
Shopping expeditions legitimized the regime by offering freedom to travel and consume outside its realm, like a small evil tolerated to protect the larger system.
The acquisition of goods in socialism was a politicized “way of constituting selfhood against the dominant definitions of socialist subjectivity and collectivity…” and “an attempt and as struggle to become part of western consumer culture” from which Yugoslavia was excluded.
Hanno Hardt. “A Face in the Market: Photography, Memory, and Nostalgia.”
- “objects of a never-ending challenge of memory” as interpretations of the past change.
- “arsenal of memory” providing source of information, emotions, and nostalgia
“viewing photograps is always an act of mourning the irretrievable, the mythical homeland, Heimat or fatherland. Nostalgia as a historical emotion recovers the idea of Yugoslavia as a cultural experience, which celebrates the values of diversity, peace, and collaboration. Once removed from its original intent, the photograph becomes a culturally determined text, open to appropriation, interpretation, and use by the forces of memory. Nostalgia builds on these forces, which embrace the photograph as reality to revisit a historical moment.”
“Indeed, photographs are freeze-frames of history, whose extension into the present lends visibility to the course of time. Nostalgia exploits memory (and therefore photography) for romantic bouts of longing without responsibility, re-constructing times and places with feverish desire.”
“Thus, the meaning of a documentary photograph changes to yet another fiction with every gaze of the reader, whose knowledge, coupled with curiosity, exploits the ambiguity of the image. Accordingly, its meaning is limited only by the limits of the imagination, from which nostalgia rises to help reinvent the past, while its physical presence confirms not only its material quality, but also authenticates its use in reproducing a nostalgic version of reality.”
“fashionable Yugo-nostalgia…has swept over the contemporary…states of ex-Yugoslavia”
“Nostalgia becomes an effective antidote to politics as these photographs enter into the discourse of economic despair, political defeat, or cultural voyeurism as icons of a “better” time. They are evidence of a lost era, but at the same time, an invitation to utopian visions of life under Tito’s socialism. [These photographs] may trigger nostalgic recollections of the diversity of cultures,” vacations in Croatia, landscapes of Bosnia, etc. “all the while colored by a longing for the good times, when life seemed uncomplicated. Nostalgia deflects from the current crises as wishful thinking clouds memory, reconstituting that which has never been.”
People to interview:
- Former JNA officers
- People who attended Dan omladine in Belgrade as a mass synchronized gymnastics performers
- People who carried Youth Relay as children/youths
- People who gave the baton to Tito as youths
- People on the Croatian coast who provided sobe accommodations in (or have provided it since) the 1970s or 1980s
- People who took trips to Trieste