…on the study of labour, nationalism and everyday life in late Yugoslav socialism
Priboj – images of the factory as the centre of one’s social universe
In Yugoslav worker communities the factory was the centre of the social world and the key site of welfare provision, entertainment and sociability. This is abundantly clear in Priboj, a small town in Sandžak (Southwest Serbia) where we are working in FAP (Fabrika automobila Priboj), the struggling heavy vehicle manufacturer.
The lines between factory, municipality and state are extremely blurred with FAP constructing the lion’s share of Priboj’s infrastructure including water and sewage, public transport and the town’s only hotel. The newer part of town, built by and for FAP in modernist blocks and centred on “FAP sqaure” and FAP owned “Hotel Lim”, has surpassed the old centre (čaršija) in economic terms.
The notion of the factory as the centre of social life was actively promoted inside the factory. The insistence on the enterprise as the main provider of social goods and services in the area enhanced workers’ attachment to FAP. In the office housing the factory archives we came across bundles of poster-boards and photographs prepared for an exhibition organized during one of the celebration of FAP’s anniversary in the 1970s. The posters depict scenes of social activities taking place within the factory perimeter as well as the achievements of factory investments throughout Priboj. The pictures were most probably taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s.