History as Elephant in the Room: Observations from Serbia’s Memory Lab

Where does a contemporary history of Serbia begin? How is the Yugoslav legacy reflected within it? And does all the talk about memory and forgetting in post-conflict societies really help to answer these questions? With such doubts I left for Serbia this October. For the past six years, I have participated in excursions about memory culture across the post-Yugoslav region. Most of the study trips were organized by “Memory Lab”.

logo310This is a network of individuals interested in the culture of dealing with the past in Western Europe and the Western Balkans. Since our first meeting in Sarajevo in 2010, forty memory activists and analysts have travelled together to explore how the societies in Western Europe and the western Balkans perform their history. We have visited Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, France, Germany and the German-Polish borderland, Kosovo and Macedonia, Belgium; and in 2016, our joint study trip has lead us to Serbia.


Versponnene Fäden. Kriegsnarrative im jugoslawischen Raum

Von Sabine Rutar

Nur wenige Bücher teilen das Schicksal von Katherine Verderys „National Ideology Under Socialism: Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceauşescu’s Romania“. Es ging am 8. November 1989 in Druck und geriet buchstäblich über Nacht zu einem kontingenten Narrativ: „From being an analysis of how cultural production and national ideology are intertwined in a socialist society, it became a recent history of a now-very-different future cultural and national politics, in the transition from socialism to whatever will come after it.“1 Dieses „whatever will come after it“ beeinflusste in der Folge, nicht von ungefähr, die Interpretationen der sozialistischen Zeit, und für Jugoslawien gilt dies in besonderer Weise.


  1. Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism: Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceauşescu’s Romania, Berkeley 1991, xi. []