Our Yugoslavias: Daily Life in the SFRY

About This Project

Our Yugoslavias: Daily Life in the SFRY is a digital oral history initiative that aims to help people who lived in socialist Yugoslavia preserve and share their everyday culture and experiences. From the moments of daily life (like trips to the market, school, or work), to hobbies and entertainment (music, movies, fashion, and more), or the extraordinary and spectacular (concerts, travel, Day of Youth celebrations), Our Yugoslavias is committed to sharing the cacophony of voices and experiences that defined Yugoslav life.

Our Yugoslavias purpose is to pause and look back at life in Yugoslavia before its violent end. It seeks to understand Yugoslavia through the voices of everyday people who cultivated their communities and identities in its republics and autonomous provinces. 

Understanding Yugoslavia as a complex and multifaceted state and experience, Our Yugoslavias does not just document commonalities in Yugoslav life, but differences and inequities within its republics and provinces as well. This project rejects the idea that Yugoslav life and identity can be told through a single narrative. Instead, it highlights the various contours and textures of life in Yugoslavia, holding space for its peoples’ many subjective experiences. It places their stories side by side to understand similarities and disparities at the federal, republican, regional, or otherwise local level, to consider how and why they were formed and effected community interactions and self-understanding.

More importantly, Our Yugoslavias provides the opportunity for community and functions as a space where people who lived in Yugoslavia can engage with one another as they reflect on their pasts. As this project develops, a discussion forum and “comment” function will be added to encourage dialogue and feedback.

Every person’s experience in Yugoslavia was different. While this project works hard to use language and content that is inclusive of those experiences, this is an ongoing process and your comments and questions are both welcomed and wanted. Project Organizer Alexandra Zaremba, will blog throughout this experience to explain why she made certain choices and important lessons learned. As the project expands and you submit your stories, content will be revised and added to this site. 

Project Timeline

Our Yugoslavias takes place in three overlapping stages and will develop over the next several years.

During the first stage:

During stage two:

  • Alexandra will contact interested narrators with more details on oral history interviews.
  • Roughly twenty five narrators representative of the diverse people who lived in Yugoslavia (age, race, nationality, gender, and class) will be selected for oral history interviews. Whenever possible, interviews will be conducted in-person contingent on COVID-19 developments and travel restrictions, or via video conferencing software. 
  • After oral histories are completed, narrators will have the opportunity to review transcription drafts. They will then receive a digital copy of their interview and transcript.  

Finally, in stage three:

  • With narrator’s permission, the stories, images, and interviews collected through this project will be made accessible through a digital archive and exhibition, and will also be used in Alexandra’s dissertation.
  • After the project’s conclusion, oral histories will be deposited in still to be determined archival repositories. 

As per professional standards and project ethics and methods, all narrators will maintain ownership over content submitted and created for Our Yugoslavias. Narrators reserve the right to limit, restrict, or revoke access to their materials at any point during or after the project. 

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