Phrasing the Yugoslav Crisis: Jovan Mirić and the Constitutional Debates of the 1980s

In: East Central Europe
Agustin Cosovschi University Paris Nanterre and Centre d’Études Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques, Paris, France,

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In this article, I analyze the debate triggered in Yugoslavia in 1984 by Jovan Mirić’s book The System and the Crisis. Drawing from a wide corpus of sources, mainly from the Yugoslav press and the intellectual production of the time, I argue that the episode sheds light on many aspects of the Yugoslav crisis. First, it shows the ultimate incapacity of certain actors of the Yugoslav political and intellectual elite to accept a compromise with those who pushed for reform. Second, the episode attests to the changes introduced by the crisis on the Yugoslav political and intellectual landscape, which allowed for an intellectual with no political prominence to attain unexpected influence over party politics overnight. Finally, I also argue that the Mirić affair shows that many in the Yugoslav political and intellectual world who could not be identified as nationalists were nevertheless anxious about the way in which authorities were dealing with the Serbian question, which invites us to leave aside black-and-white notions when considering the power of Serbian nationalism and its rise during the 1980s.

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