Between class and nation. Working class communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro


Between class and nation: Working class communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro
Austrian Science Fund (FWF) project number: P27008 (Stand-alone project/Einzelprojekte)

Project overview
“Between class and nation: Working class communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro” financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is a three year project led by Univ. Prof. Dr. Florian Bieber employing researchers Rory Archer (PhD candidate at the University of Graz) and Goran Musić (PhD candidate at the European University Institute, Florence) at the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz.
The project explores working class communities in Serbia and Montenegro during the 1980s in an attempt to generate new insights on interactions between social class and ethno-nationalism and about the agency of working people in the conditions of late Yugoslav socialism. Despite the great volume of scholarly works treat the Yugoslav state and its demise from various disciplinary and thematic perspectives, few studies keep the role of the working class at the core of analysis.
Two research questions structure the project:
How was the gap between official Yugoslav self-management ideology and social reality mediated by the working class during the 1980s?
How did national(ist) and social demands intersect inside working class milieus?
The project relies empirically on four case studies of working class communities which include an industrial suburb of Belgrade, two provincial Serbian towns and an industrial centre in Montenegro. A focus is made on three interconnected levels of analysis: the home; the workplace; and interventions in public space. Through a micro-level focus the project seeks insight into macro processes of social and political change in 1980s Yugoslavia. The project is attentive to the ways in which ordinary people – industrial workers and their families – negotiated, subverted, shaped (and were themselves shaped by) broader policies and processes in everyday practice. Through focusing on linkages between micro and macro levels, between the particular working class communities and the broader political and socio-economic context, the project seeks to advance the state-of-the-art with regard to organised labour, class and everyday life in late Yugoslav socialism.

All publications written in the frame of the project will be made publicly available from the CSEES web platform. The first major publication associated with the project is an edited volume Social Inequalities and Discontent in Yugoslav Socialism to be published by Ashgate in early 2016.

Open Access Policy
As a signatory of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, the FWF is committed to advance sustained Open Access to scholarly publications and research data. To this end, the FWF requires and supports all project leaders and co-workers to make their research results freely available through the Internet.

Project blog
Updates about the project activities can be found on the project blog.

Project Advisory board
The project has secured a network of partner institutions and an experienced group of scholars who work on Southeast Europe and labour history and contemporary history more generally. This academic board will provide support during the project and will assist in dissemination of the project’s results. Current members of the advisory board are:

Catherine Baker, University of Hull
Ulf Brunnbauer, Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg
Jasna Dragović-Soso, Goldsmiths, London
Chip Gagnon, Ithaca College
Karl Kaser, University of Graz
Sabine Rutar Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg
Stephen A. Smith, All Souls College, University of Oxford
Marina Simić, University of Belgrade
Nebojsa Vladisavljević, University of Belgrade

Project workshops and conference
An informal network of researchers interested in issues of social class and labour in SEE has already been created through previous activities of the Centre for Southeast European Studies including a workshop in late 2012 Bringing class back in. The dynamics of social change in (post) Yugoslavia and panels at the 2013 Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) annual convention.

Two project workshops are to be held during the first two years of the project (October 2015 and October 2016). The first workshop was held as a series of panel sessions titled 'The history of labour in Yugoslav late socialism' in the frame of the conference 'Socialism: Construction and Deconstruction’, at University of Pula on 1-3 October 2015. A larger conference will be held during the final stages of the project (September 2017). Through these activities we aim to help foster a broader platform for the research of labour history and history from below in SEE.