Between class and nation: Working class communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro

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This is a blog about the study of labour, nationalism and everyday life in late Yugoslav socialism.

It is associated with the research project Between class and nation: Working class communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro.

The project is based at the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz. Financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF project no: P27008), the project runs until late 2017. It is led by Florian Bieber and employs researchers Rory Archer (rory.archer@uni-graz.at) and Goran Musić (goran.music@uni-graz.at).

About us

We are both researchers based at the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz.

Rory Archer received his doctorate in History from the University of Graz in December 2015. His doctoral project explored how working class Belgraders mediated the gap between theory and practice in late Yugoslav socialism using the case study of access to social housing.

Goran Musić received his doctorate in History from the European University History in Florence in January 2016. His doctoral dissertation is titled ‘The Self-Managing Factory after Tito: The crisis of Yugoslav Socialism on the Shop Floor’.

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About the project

This project explores working class communities in Serbia and Montenegro during the 1980s in an attempt to generate new insights on interactions between social class and ethno-nationalism and about the agency of working people in the conditions of late Yugoslav socialism.

Despite the great volume of scholarly works treat the Yugoslav state and its demise from various disciplinary and thematic perspectives, few studies keep the role of the working class at the core of analysis.

The project relies empirically on four case studies of working class communities which include an industrial suburb of Belgrade (Rakovica), two provincial Serbian towns (Priboj, Zrenjanin) and an industrial centre in Montenegro (Nikšić).

A focus is made on three interconnected levels of analysis: the home; the workplace; and interventions in public space. Through a micro-level focus the project seeks insight into macro processes of social and political change in 1980s Yugoslavia.

The project is attentive to the ways in which ordinary people – industrial workers and their families – negotiated, subverted, shaped (and were themselves shaped by) broader policies and processes in everyday practice.

Through focusing on linkages between micro and macro levels, between the particular working class communities and the broader political and socio-economic context, the project seeks to advance the state-of-the-art with regard to organised labour, class and everyday life in late Yugoslav socialism.

Through our project we seek to engage with the growing number of researchers working on similar phenomena (labour, socialism, postsocialism and everyday life in SEE and beyond). We hold an annual workshop (the first one took place in Pula in October 2015) and welcome collaboration with other researchers for conference panels and other events. Calls for collaboration will be posted in this blog and disseminated through networks like Balkan Academic News and H-Soyuz.

Project Publications

As a signatory of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, the FWF is committed to advance sustained Open Access to scholarly publications and research data. All publications emerging from the project will be made available here:

  • Rory Archer and Goran Musić, “Approaching the Socialist Factory and its Workforce: Considerations from Fieldwork in (former) Yugoslavia” Labor History (forthcoming).
  • Rory Archer, Igor Duda and Paul Stubbs, “Bringing class back in. An introduction” , in Rory Archer, Igor Duda and Paul Stubbs (eds.) Social inequalities and discontent in Yugoslav Socialism. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016, 1-20. Introduction Archer Duda Stubbs
  • Rory Archer, “‘Paid for by the Workers, Occupied by the Bureaucrats’: Housing Inequalities in 1980s Belgrade” in Rory Archer, Igor Duda and Paul Stubbs (eds.) Social inequalities and discontent in Yugoslav Socialism. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016, 58-76. Chapter 4 Archer
  • Goran Musić, “‘They Came as Workers and Left as Serbs’: The Role of Rakovica’s Blue-Collar Workers in Serbian Social Mobilizations of the Late 1980s” in Rory Archer, Igor Duda and Paul Stubbs (eds.) Social inequalities and discontent in Yugoslav Socialism. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016, 132-154. Chapter 8 Music
  • Rory Archer, “Imaš kuću – vrati stan”. Housing inequalities, socialist morality and discontent 1980s Yugoslavia. Godišnjak za društvenu istoriju/Annual of Social History Vol. 20, No.3 (2015 [2013]), 119-139. Archer 2015

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