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Belgrade, Serbia, and the First Yugoslavia: Connections and Contradictions

Read back from the 1990s, the scenario of a Greater Serbian agenda based in Belgrade and using Yugoslavia as a means to that end continues to tempt Western scholarship. Serbian exceptionalism thereby doomed both Yugoslavias. This special issue of East Central Europeaddresses connections between Belgrade, Serbia, and Yugoslavia promoting contradictions that belie this simple scenario. Focusing on the first Yugoslavia, these six articles by younger Belgrade historians critically examine a series of disjunctures between the capital city and the rest of Serbia as well as Yugoslavia that undercut the neglected pre-1914 promise of Belgrade’s Yugoslavism. First came the failure of the city’s political and intellectual elite the First World War was ending to persevere with that promise. Most could not separate themselves from a conservative rather than nationalist reliance on the Serbian-led ministries in Belgrade to deal with the problems of governing a new state that now included many non-Serbs. From Serbian political divisions and a growing parliamentary paralysis to the Belgrade ministries’ failure to support the Serb colonists in Kosovo, problems mounted. They opened the way for King Aleksandar’s dictatorship in 1929, with initial Serbian support. But as the royal regime imposed an integral Yugoslavism on what had been the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and punished disloyalty to the Crown in particular Serbs were punished as well as non-Serbs. Their locally organized associations were also placed under royal authority, whose ministries were however no more successful in uniform administration than their predecessors. At the same time, however, Belgrade’s growing connections to European popular culture skipped over the rest of the country, Serbia included, to establish a distinctive urban identity. After the Second World War, what was now a Western identity would grow and spread from Belgrade after the Tito-Stalin split, despite reservations and resistance from the Communist regime. This cultural connection now promoted the wider Yugoslav integration that was missing in the interwar period. It still failed, as amply demonstrated in Western and Serbian scholarship, to overcome the political contradictions that burdened both Yugoslavias.

Affiliations: 1: Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, jrlampe@umd.edu

10.1163/18763308-04201001
/content/journals/10.1163/18763308-04201001
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1. Clark Christopher . 2012. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 . New York: Harper Collins.
2. Clavin Patricia . 2005. “ "Defining Transnationalism".” Contemporary European History Vol 14, no. 4: 421439. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0960777305002705
3. Djokić Dejan . 2007. Elusive Compromise: A History of Interwar Yugoslavia . New York: Columbia University Press.
4. Drapac Vesna . Constructing Yugoslavia, A Transnational History . Houndsmill: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2010.
5. Gašić Ranka . 2005. Beograd k hodu na Evropu[Belgrade on the path to Europe]. Belgrade: Institut za savremenu istoriju.
6. Hoare Marko Attila . 2007. The History of Bosnia from the Middle Ages to the Present Day . London: SAQI.
7. Janjetović Zoran . 2011. Od international do komerciale: popularna kultura uJugoslaviji, 1945–1991[From international to commercial: Popular culture in Yugoslavia, 1945–1991]. Belgrade: Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije.
8. Jovanović Miroslav . 2006. Ruska emigracija na Balkanu[Russian emigration to the Balkans]. Belgrade: Cigoja štampa.
9. Judah Tim . 2009, The Serbs, History, Myths and the Destruction of Yugoslavia , 3rd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press.
10. Lampe John R. 2011. “ "Yugoslavia Vanishes: The British Turn to the Serbian Question".” Contemporary European History Vol 20, no. 1: 8195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0960777310000391
11. Maier Charles S. 2000. “ "Consigning the Twentieth Century to History: Alternative Narratives of the Modern Era".” American Historical Review105, no. Vol 3( Summer): 807831.
12. Marković Predrag J. 1996. Beograd izmdju istoka i zapada, 1948–1965[Belgrade between East and West, 1945–1968]. Belgrade: EMKA.
13. Neuberger Mary C. 2013. Balkan Smoke, Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria . Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
14. Norris John A. 2009. Belgrade: A Cultural History . London: Oxford University Press.
15. Ramet Sabrina P. 1996. Balkan Babel, The Disintegration of Yugoslavia from rthe Deat of Toto to Ethnic War . 2nd ed. Boulder: Westview Press.
16. ———. 2006. The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimation, 1918–2005 . Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
17. Stojanović Dubravka ,. 2009. “ "Slow Burning: History Textbooks in Serbia, 1993–2008".” In Transition and the Politics of History Education in Southeastern Europe , edited by Augusta Dimou , 141159. Göttingen: V&R Unipress.
18. Vujačić Veljko . 2004. "“Serbian Exceptionalism.”" Working Paper, Berkeley Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies. University of California, Berkeley.
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/content/journals/10.1163/18763308-04201001
2015-08-08
2017-11-24

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