Finally, one thing in which the Balkans have had an advantage over Europe! Ever since that word entered general circulation, I have been getting ready to proclaim Serbia, and perhaps the entire Balkans, the vanguard of populism. That is what gives me that superiority I mentioned at the beginning, because I have that know-how which you are just beginning to acquire. What are the conclusions?
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Materials for the Political Biography of the 20th Century Library visit web page. From through , she worked at the Institute of Modern History of Serbia.
In , she joined the History Department of the University of Belgrade, and in , she obtained the chair of Universal Modern History. Her books: Principles put to a Test. Urbanization and Europeanization of Belgrade — Kaldrma i asfalt. Urbanizacija i evropeizacija Beograda — and Oil in Water. Well, almost thirty years later, it is still so, even though the country is very different from what it was then. All along, the conditions have been such that that the easiest way out was to declare one self unfortunate.
This book has been occasioned by the jubilee anniversary of The 20th Century Library. This year marks 40 years of its existence. It is the only surviving theoretical literature edition initiated in former Yugoslavia.
Although such editions had flourished then and had been a part of a vibrant intellectual scene, none, safe The 20th Century library, has managed to survive the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the insuing wars and system changes, to make a transition, and remain a going concern in new market conditions. For that reason alone, but also because, in our past, institutions have had a way of falling much faster than they had been erected, The 20th Century Library has earned its right to a biography 2.
As in many other cases, it has survived thanks to the perseverance of individual people, most often in spite and in defiance of the system.
It deserves a biography, because it typifies all the cases of cultural projects which were conceived and which survived thanks to the enthusiasm of people who changed the system more than the system could change them.
There are numerous such examples in our past. Still, to this day, they have not helped bring about a change in the basic relationship between the system and the individual, so that the system would be there for the sake of the individual, and not the oher way around. There have always been more reasons for The 20th Century Library to become extinct than to continue to exist.
This marked the beginning of a saga to which this book bears witness. Systems, methods, and stated objectives, were subject to change, as well as individuals and groups holding the power.
However, The 20th Century Library bothered all of them by the mere fact that it stood apart, not showing the slightest interest in playing ball with them. That is why this book about The Library is also a book about those systems. Methodologically, this book belongs to the field of social history. This is why one can raise the question whether that approach is in synch with its subtitle, Materials for the Political Biography of The 20th Century Library.
Tito, our title can suggest that one is dealing here with classical political history. It not the case nevertheless. Many political happenings, which, during the last 40 years, shook Yugoslavia and Serbia, and shaped their history are touched upon here, but strictly from the perspective of a series of books.
Our research is focussed on it, treating it as a thread running across diverse power structures, political regimes, reversals of political fortune, and turmoils. That is why this research methodologically belongs in the field of social history — it sets aside all those seemingly tempestuous and swift changes in the superficial, shallow, political sphere, contemplating them from the depths of the much slower and gradual pace of broader social change.
Concurrently, a new approach to political history is applied here. It is precisely because it has, through all these years, kept small circulation and a limited number of titles per year, the edition has been well positioned to have a unique perspective on the political sphere. Thanks to its intentionally chosen marginal position, it was able to survive all the political regimes that, for one reason or another, did not wish it well, to preserve its autonomy, and remain a witness.
This enabled him to outlast and bid farewell to a number of individuals and groups in power, and not vice versa. It made it possible for him to paint a picture of the Serbian society and politics from his own unique angle, from within his own little circle of liberty, which is the title of the the final chapter of this book.
As important for the Library as it may be, this picture is even more important, or at least should be so, for Serbian poltics and society. It is important because individual episodes of the history of The 20th Century Library raise general questions. In the first place, it is the problem of relationship between power and society, as well as that of relationship between society and individual. More specifically, the central question is upon what foundations have rested autoritarian governements, succeeding one another throughout our history?
Do they limit the liberty of the society and the individuals, or would it be that neither the individuals nor the society really seek liberty? Would regimes continue to be repressive if they encountred stiff resistance from the society? Or, perhaps, they feed on weaknesses of the society, on its conformism, fear, and weariness of smallest risks? Who is holding whom on a leash here? Are political regimes that which puts the brakes on the development and maturing of the society, or is the society that which produces regimes allowing it never to grow up, regimes sucking up to it and lulling it to sleep, sheltering it from adult responsibilities?
These questions and answers have been tested and weighed in this book in connection with many situations in which The 20th Century Library had found itself. That is why it occured to the the editor and this author that the 40th anniversary of the Library should be marked by a volume of its own history, as its th publication, not to glorify the edition, well, not only for that purpose, but also to show the world that one could always, and in a variety of difficult circumstances, survive, that there have always been people who dared survive.
And, they were not a small number. That is why this book is not only about The 20th Century library, but is equally about all those people who never allowed the door to be shut, who kept their foot in it. That is why this book is also dedicated to all those who will have to fight similar battles in the future. The book has a classical structure, and is divided into four chronological wholes.
This pattern is far removed from any methodological models of social historiography, but it was chosen deliberately. It makes it possible to follow seemingly accelerated changes of political circumstances and gradual social and cultural developments as two distinct currents. This makes it easier to see their interdependence, and to understand ways in which they are intertwined.
It was also the time when The 20th Century Library came under private ownership, which brought upon it certain new kinds of pressure and challenges, typical of the transition from socialized to private economy. Its expansion depends again on the individual, but also on the perennial competition between the individual, the state, and the society. The book draws from diverse sources. In addition to that, the editor of the Library kept in those days a detailed diary, inserting in it original documents and press articles.
All the subsequent crises are also accounted for in official and unofficial documents, preserved in his personal archive, which has enabled the author to reconstitute events. Folders full of such documents were significant testimonies and corroborating evidence, regarding some of the topics important for this book.
In addition to that, the editor and the authoress of this book live together. In other words, she has, for almost twenty years, heard numerous accounts of events discussed in her book. This can be an aggravating circumstance as much as it is an advantage. An advantage, since it enabled her to write this book at all. Constant discussions and conversations about all these topics facilitated the reconstitution of events, helped fill the gaps left by insufficient historical documentation, and better understand the context.
The aggravating circumstance, of course, is the fact that the reader can doubt the objectivity of the author, and write the book off as naked propaganda and glorification of a life companion. This issue needs to be settled at once. First and foremost, I have always maintained that a historian is always subjective, and that is how it ought to be, for it is how he or she will always want to find out more about that which attracts him or her personally.
The question is: why would we occupy ourselves with something to which we do not relate personally, to which we are neutral, indifferent? All the situations to which this book testifies are used as a medium through which is explored a broader scene, a broader issue, a longer lasting problem. From the moment I saw the saved documents, it was clear to me that our most recent history was refracted through them, and that it would be possible to raise many crucial questions about the second half of the 20 th century by sufficiently generalizing the situations to which the documents were testimonies.
Not taking advantage of such a treasure-trove of documentary material under my own roof would have been a serious case of professional malpractice for me as a historian. And, that is how and why this book came into being.
Many helped me in my work on it. Urbanizacija i evropeizacija Beograda — , Beograd , p. Urbanization and Europeanization of Belgrade — Biblioteka XX vek. Materials for the Political Biography of the 20th Century Library. Materials for the Political Biography of the 20th Century Library visit web page , pp.
Four times there and back
In , when Serbia and its allies headed off to the First Balkan War against the Ottoman Empire, it did so with two publicly stated war goals. Back then states went to war with honor, by declaring why they were going off to war on the front pages of the newspapers. The first war goal was expansion to the south, to Kosovo and Macedonia, and the other equally important goal was to getting exit to the Adriatic Sea through northern Albania. At the time there was an obsession in Serbia with the idea that a state cannot survive without access to the sea. It was constantly repeated that only Switzerland and Serbia have no sea. It was clear that there was going to be a major conflict around Salonica and that this route should not be taken and, the wise leadership came to the conclusion that we can somehow get access to the sea through northern Albania. The route from Serbia to the Adriatic Sea leads through the Prokletije mountains.
Populism the Serbian Way
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