After Yugoslavia: The Cultural Spaces of a Vanished Land

After Yugoslavia: The Cultural Spaces of a Vanished Land

After Yugoslavia: The Cultural Spaces of a Vanished Land

After Yugoslavia: The Cultural Spaces of a Vanished Land


The book brings together many of the best known commentators and scholars who write about former Yugoslavia. The essays focus on the post-Yugoslav cultural transition and try to answer questions about what has been gained and what has been lost since the dissolution of the common country. Most of the contributions can be seen as current attempts to make sense of the past and help cultures in transition, as well as to report on them.

The volume is a mixture of personal essays and scholarly articles and that combination of genres makes the book both moving and informative. Its importance is unique. While many studies dwell on the causes of the demise of Yugoslavia, this collection touches upon these causes but goes beyond them to identify Yugoslavia's legacy in a comprehensive way. It brings topics and writers, usually treated separately, into fruitful dialog with one another.


Marijeta Božović

A Personal Beginning

In the spring of 2010, I went no fewer than three times to see Marina Abramović’s performance piece and retrospective show The Artist Is Present at the New York City MoMA. The first time I went with a friend and knew that I had to return; the second time I went alone, to study the fifth-floor retrospective of her work; and finally I went back very briefly near the end of her atrium performance, part superstitiously and part protectively, to check that she was still all there.

Her performance—and the entire exhibit—was intended to provoke strong reactions. In a piece for the New York Times, Arthur Danto described the experience of sitting with Abramović as akin to witnessing a shamanistic trance. Danto, who has sat across from Abramović in more sociable environments, was quick to mention her wit and her charming “kind of Balkan humor” outside of the performance space. But more striking is his rhetorical leap from Abramović’s fairly abstract, conceptual piece of performance art to his own connections with socialist Yugoslav history. He writes:

I had put three months into the catalog essay for the MoMA show, reading about her
performances and about her life. I had spent some time in Yugoslavia in the 1970s
teaching philosophical seminars as a Fulbright professor at the Inter-University Center
of Postgraduate Studies in Dubrovnik. It was around then that Marina was doing her
first performances in Belgrade. I recalled that, years before she was born, I had, as a
young soldier in Italy, sailed one dark night to the Dalmatian coast with some partisans

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