Below are answers to common questions and other information on Our Yugoslavias not already found on this site. Please contact me with any additional questions or comments. I will respond to them directly and may also add responses here. Also look out for posts from my project blog which will provide an even greater inside look into this project’s development, including my rationale for making certain choices, my lessons learned, how I grapple with ongoing dilemmas, and more.
I chose the title Our Yugoslavias: Daily Life in the SFRY because it incorporates several themes and sentiments that encompass this project:
The “our,” in “Our Yugoslavias,” is central. I believe it conveys the shared ownership and authority of all narrators. “Our” also indicates some level of relationship between narrators; that relationship and its nature is intentionally ambiguous to acknowledge the many ways people existed and understood themselves in relation to each other in Yugoslavia.
I use the plural Yugoslavias rather that Yugoslavia, to indicate that life in Yugoslavia can not be defined in one way, but is made up of a plurality of experiences. The title “Our Yugoslavias” thus attempts to be inclusive. It acknowledges each positive, negative, and individual experience to understand life in Yugoslavia as complex and contingent on individuals’ circumstances. This framework allows us to put each experience into conversation to study how it influences the larger meanings of Yugoslav history and identity.
The notion of “our” might deter potential narrators who were not afforded full citizenship rights in Yugoslavia, were treated as second class citizens, or those with strong national identities. But the spirit of this project is in the “our” even when narrators’ lived experiences in Yugoslavia are in conflict with each other and reflect structural inequalities. In fact, these stories are perhaps among the most important to tell and preserve if we are to adequately acknowledge the realities of all peoples lives in Yugoslavia.
Simultaneously,, “our” also helps to hold space for community; through this project narrators can connect and discuss their various experiences in Yugoslavia.
The second part of the title “daily life,” communicates that this project is primarily about the ordinary and the everyday and is not trauma centered. So many important projects have recorded testimonies from narrators on the wars of Yugoslavia’s dissolution. But they have created the impression that the only stories to be told about Yugoslavia are related to violence, nationalism, and trauma. Those themes are certainly important elements of Yugoslav history, but they are not its entirety. People who lived in Yugoslavia have many other stories to tell: those of joy or the mundane, of love and friendship, of non-violent or non-national struggles and peril; they include formative moments of change and continuity, triumph and failure. Yugoslavia was as complex and multifaceted as the people who lived there. Focusing on “daily life,” helps to draw out the idea that Yugoslavia should not be exclusively defined by its exceptional end but through its ordinary peoples’ everyday experiences and stories.
Finally, I chose the term “SFRY” rather than “Yugoslavia,” to avoid repetition in the title, for concision, and because I didn’t want any confusion with the interwar period.
Due to the enormous amount of both front end (interview prep, informed consent and deed of gift reviews, pre-interview discussion) and back end work (transcriptions, processing, metadata inputting, audio editing, and more) my goal is to interview roughly twenty-five narrators.
I intend to have a more or less equal number of narrators from each Yugoslav republic and autonomous region representative of that region’s ethnic make up. Ideal narrators will have been born between 1930 and 1975, and experienced Yugoslavia during their formative years of childhood, adolescence, and (young) adulthood (ages 18-40), at the height of its consumer and popular culture from the 1960s and into the early 1980s. I will intentionally select narrators from various socio-economic, religious, and other diverse backgrounds and will also ensure a balanced gender representation. At this point it is difficult to determine if this project will end up focusing on a specific generation, but the average age and other demographic particularities will be noted in the final digital exhibition and collection’s description.