Priboj – images of the factory as the centre of one’s social universe

Tending to a superficial wound. The factory organized basic medical care services in a separate building within its premises (FAP archives)
Tending to a superficial wound. The factory organized basic medical care services in a separate building within its premises (FAP archives)

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.

DSCN1566
Priboj, April 2015 (Rory Archer)

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.

hotel lim
Hotel Lim, Priboj, 2015 (Rory Archer)
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.
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first aid
As a part of the doctrine of the national defence and social self-protection (‘Opšte narodna odbrana i društvena samozaštita’) the factory undertook regular emergency exercises, including first aid and basic military training (FAP archives)
concert
A concert inside the factory premises. Open air celebrations organized for the entire workforce were a common occurrence on important holidays and ranged from ballet and theater performances to pop/rock concerts. The stage was usually set up on the back of FAP’s trademark trucks (FAP archives)
8. mart koktel
Celebrations for International Women’s Day – 8th of March (FAP archives)
sociability
As well as hard work FAP also promoted an image of sociability and celebration. After-work gatherings and celebrations were regularly sponsored by the trade union and other socio-political organizations (FAP archives)
fudbal
FAP financed a range of hobbies and sports activities. The factory related sports clubs usually competed in the local leagues and attracted spectators from the city. (FAP archives)
race
(FAP archives)
chess
(FAP archives)
publications
A range of FAP publications, held essential for the spread of information and the deepening of self-managing socialism, was proudly exhibited (FAP archives)
doctor
Primary healthcare provision (FAP archives)
A modern high-rise built in Novi Priboj for FAP workers. (FAP archives)
A modern high-rise under construction in Novi Priboj for FAP workers (FAP archives)
Rory Archer and Goran Musić, 16.11.2015