in East Central Europe
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Abstract: Drawing on Svetlana Boym's distinction between "restorative" and "reflective" nostalgia, the essay maps two broad, and often overlapping, ideal types of Yugonostalgia expressed in and through contemporary former Yugoslav film, popular music, and multi-media. The first expresses reconstructive longing for an essential Yugoslav past; the second offers self-consciously ambivalent and critical frames in indulging fantasies of this past. What different forms of Yugonostalgia share in common is challenging symbolic geographies of disunity that have dominated political discourse in former Yugoslavia for the last two decades. The two types can be differentiated by their stance toward the presentpast and the future: while both of them are based on fantasies of the past, the "restorative" Yugonostalgic looks backward towards a seemingly fixed time and space while "reflective" nostalgic restlessly grapples with the dislocation so palpable in the former Yugoslavia to imagine alternative futures.


in East Central Europe


  • 1. Press Release Newswire, 2004, "That's me: First Multinational Reality Show," accessed at: http://ca.prweb.com/releases/2004/12/prweb185588.htm. The show itself lasts IS minutes, followed by an hour-long program hosted by a team of commentators from all former republics. The Croatian Novi List suggests in a sidebar titled "Balkan Mix" that the nationalities of the con- testants are not clear cut, e.g., one Bosnian contestant born in Montenegro, is half Croatian and half Serbian, "Sutra reality show 'To sam ja' napusta četvero stanara" (Tomorrow the reality show 'That's me' will release four room-dwellers), Novi List, Jan. 3, 2005. 2. "Balkanski reality show zbog 'pomografije' na udaru roditelja" [The Balkan reality show under the attack of parents due to 'pornography'], Index.hr, Nov. 30, 2004. The Bosnian League J '�

  • also filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Bosnian contestant's mother who argued that broadcasting a communal hot-tub scene was an attack on her daughter's "moral integrity." 3. Vesna Sopar, "The Big Brother of the Balkans," Media Online, Febr. 23, 2005. 4. "Zbog sporne 'titoidne' scenografije regionalne TV odbile prikazati show" [Due to the de- bated 'Titoid' script the regional TV turns down the show], Vecernji list, Jan. 20, 2005. 5. Andrew Roberts describes a similar "bottom up" appeal of the Czech nostalgia, from re- runs of the Major Zeman detective series to "eighties parties." See Andrew Roberts, "The Poli- tics and Anti-Politics of Nostalgia," East European Politics and Societies, 16, no. 3 (2003), 764- 809. ' t . 6. Or 5oeijalisii�ka Federativna Republika Jugoslavija in Serbian and Croatian. The etymol- ogy of nostalgia -- nostos (return) and algo.s (sorrow) - is illuminating, for nostalgia is a romantic longing for a past that cannot exist. See Jean Starobinski, "The Idea of Nostalgia," Diogenes, 54 (1966), 81-103.

  • 7. Svetlana B.oym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001 ). 8. Miiica Bakic-Hayden and Robert M. Hayden, "Orientalist Variations on the Theme 'Bal- kans': Symbolic Geography in Recent Yugoslav Cultural Politics," 5'lavic Review, 51, no. 1 (1992), 15. 9. Ibid., p. 4. 10. fbid.; p. 15. See also Milica Baki6-Hayden, "Nesting Orientalisms: The Case of Former Yugoslavia," Slavic Review, 54, no. 4 (1995), 917-31.

  • 11. See Dejan Djokid, ed., Yugoslavism: Histories of Failed Idea, 1918-1992 (London: C. Hurst, 2003). 12. Vjekoslav Perica, Balkan Idols: Religion and Nationalism in 1!ugoslav States (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002). 13. SFRY leaders relied on the same kinds of socialist iconography and slogans that all so- cialist states used to legitimize and sustain their rule. One ritual, the "Stafeta Mladosti" captures some unique features of Yugoslav socialism. The annual event, which was first held on May 25, 1944, commemorated Josip Broz Tito's birthday. Youngsters from each Yugoslav republic par- ticipated in a three week relay in which a 'stafeta,' or ceremonial baton stuffed with birthday wishes for Tito, was carried across all the Yugoslav republics on the way to its final destination in Belgrade. The event culminated in the Yugoslav People's Army Stadium, where the final run- ner would present the baton to Tito while an enormous white balloon shaped as Tito's head would descend from above the stadium. The event, the last of which was held in 1987 (well after his death), is a vivid example of the centrality of Tito's cult of personality to Yugoslavism as well as the rituals that reinforced "brotherhood and unity." Most Yugoslavs had actively partici- pated in the ritual throughout its forty-three years of existence, from writing birthday messages, to carrying the baton, or cheering the runners along their route to Belgrade.

  • .. 14. Uffe Anderson, "Resurrecting Yugoslavia," Transirions Online, Febr. 17,2005, p. 1. , !5.�M.,p.2. � t �

  • 16. Ales Debeljak, Twighlight of the Idols: Recollections of a Lost Yugoslavia (New York: White Pine Press, 1994), p. 35. Andreas Huyssen writes: "Without memory, without reading the traces of the past, there can be no recognition of difference (Adorno called it non-identity), no tolerance for the rich complexities and instabilities of personal and cultural, political and national identities." Andreas Huyssen, Twighlight Memories: Markirsg Tirne in a Culture of Amnesia (New York: Routtedge, 1995), p. 252. ' 17. For an extended discussion, see Nicole Lindstrom, "Between Europe and the'Balkans: Mapping Slovenia and Croatia's return to Europe' in the 1990s," bialectica! Anthropolog)r, 27 (2003), 313-29. - 18. Baki6-Hayden and Hayden, "Orientalist Variations," p. 2. 19. Personal interview, July 13, 1999, Ljubljana, Slovenia. See www.zaklonisceprepera. com

  • 20. Milovan Mracevich, "Remembering the Days of Youth," Transitions Online, June 2, 2005. 21. Kumrovec guest book, accessed by the author, on January 13, 1999. 22. The film's premise could also be an allusion to the marketing of Medugorje, the town in Herzegovina where two boys saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the 1980s and which sub- sequehtly became a destination for Catholics all over the world. 23. For local coverage of the site, see Branislav Miloševié, "Sta (da) se radl," Nasa Borba, _ May 29, 1998; and Gordana Susa, "Internetu o Josipu Brozu," ibid., May 4, 1997. Accessed at http://www.titoville.com. 24. Chris Hedges, "Tito on Internet: Yearning for Socialism's 'Good Old Days'," The New York Times; Dec. 2, 1997. 25. The following sample of messages illustrates the diverse responses, ranging from hostile to sentimental. (1 ) "Contrary to those you fooled, I wasn't. You were nothing but a puppet dictator backed by western dollars and Russian rubles. You were responsible for butchering hundreds

  • of thousands of innocent civilians at Bleiburg. You conveniently whitewashed and covered up the whole mess and inflated Jasenovac to catastrophic proportions" (posted on January 28, 1998); (2) "Okay you Slovenian bastard, enough of your dogging Tito. Sure, he was not angel and he made mistakes. But remember that if it wasn't for him, Janez would be called Johann and 'Lahko prihajamo' would be 'guten tag.' So have some god damn gratitude along with your criticism and erase all the sarcasm from the homepage. Sincerely, a Yugoslav" (posted on March 24, 1996); (3) "'lhank you for reminding me of my childhood. It was great to hear Zdravko Colic's songs and see pictures of Tito again.... I almost feel like crying. suddenly remembered that I lived a completely different life and that I was happy.... Still, thank you so very much. You brought something that I thought I did not even have" (posted on July 27, 1997). See http://www.titoville.com, retrieved on October 10, 2005. 26. First accessed at http://capita.wustl.edu/sasha/CyberSlavia/CyberSlavia.html. Cyberslavia can now be accessed at the "Former Yugoslavia in Cyberspace" page at http://balkansnet.org/web2.html under YUQUEST. The creators state, "Cyberslavia claims no territorial possessions and it takes just a few kilowatts of electricity to sutvive." . 27. It is worth differentiating between two very different types of former Yugoslav virtual communities on the web: multinational ones like Cyberslavia that link former Yugoslavs within and beyond the borders of the former Yugoslavia and the far more prevalent national virtual communities that are exclusive to one particular Yugoslav national group. While cultural prod- ucts of Yugonostalgia and nationalist nostalgia differ fundamentally in their aims - the latter to construct a homogenous identity and historical tradition and the other to resist this nationalist project by memorializing the multinational tenets of Yugoslavia - what unites "restorative" 11 forms of nostalgia in the former Yugoslavia are essentialist fantasies of a particular past. See Paul Stubbs, "Imagining Croatia? Exploring Computer-mediated Diasporic Public Spheres," in M. Povr�,anovic Frykman, ed., Beyond Integration: Challenges of Belonging in Diaspora land Exile (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2001 ), pp. 195-224. 28. Dubravka Ugrešié, Culttere af Lies, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennyslvania Press, 1997), p. 70.

  • 29. Marilyn Ivy, Discourses of the Yanishing (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 56. See, for a more critical view, Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991). 30. Vladimir Arsenijevi6, Iris Andrid and Djordje Matid, eds., Leksikon YU mitologije [let i- con of Yugoslav Mythology] (Belgrade: Rende, 2005). Reviewed by Uffe Anderson, "Resurrect- ing Yugoslavia," Transitions Online, Febr. 17, 2005, p. 1. 3I . Ibid., p. 2. 2 t , • ' ■ 1

  • 32. Bach describes a similar phenomenon in East German marketing campaigns: e.g., for Kathi baked goods, "Der Osten hat gewahlt" (The East has chosen) or "Club Cola: unsere Cola" (Club Cola, our Cola). One might argue that in the former Yugoslavia, unlike in East Germany and other countries, Yugoslav products never lost their appeal. Today Cockta, a popular former- Yugoslav brand, is advertised today around the former Yugoslavia, with the slogan: "Drinks the . Yugoslav Coca-Cola." Yet the marketing of Yugonostalgia as a commodity falls closer to a re- storative conception than a reflective one. Jonathan Baeh, "'The Taste Remains': Consumption, (N)ostalgia, and the Production of East Germany," Public Culture, 14, no. 3 (2002), 538-50. 33. Personal interview, Ljubljana, Slovenia, August 17,199�.

  • 34. Personal interview, Ljubljana, Slovenia, July 23, 1999. � _ . 35. Svetlana Slapšak, "Yugonostalgia in Optima Forma," 1995. Unpublished manuscript. -. 36. See Mitja Velikonja, "Drugo in dmgačno: Subkulture in subkultume scene devetdesetih" [Other and Others: Subculture and the 1990s Subculture Scene], in Peter Stankovi6, Gregor Tome and Mitja Volikonja, eds., tlrbana Pleraena: Subkulture v Sloveniji v develdeselih [Urban Tribes: Subculture in Slovenia in the 1990s] (Ljubljana: Študentska založba, 1999), pp. 14-22. 37. Patrick Hyder Patterson, "On the Edge of Reason: The Boundaries of Balkanism in Slovenian, Austrian, and Italian Discourse," Slavic Review, 62, no. 1 (2003),141.


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