Socialist Military Service and the Scattered Archive of Yugoslav Masculinity
Memories of the mandatory service in the Yugoslav army during socialism still connect several generations of men – the same men who in the 1990s more or less actively participated in the violent destruction of the country they served. Irrespective of their personal and professional trajectories, of where they are coming from and where they currently live, and who they are in terms of ethnicity and education – for most of former recruits their army service experience remains important and meaningful.
The lecture questions the meaning of memories of the gendered, collective national experience of serving the army when the nation no longer exists. How does the aftermath of nation and the trauma that marked its disappearance reveal dimensions of this militarized, yet fractured, contested, impassioned, and even sentimental masculinity? How did selves, shaped by the homogenous, socially cohesive experiences in a hierarchical military, survive the centrifugal, fracturing forces of civil war? How do the memories of shared army experiences and friendships made in a liminal space-time shape these hesitant and sentimental masculine selves? What potential do they have for imagining the future in the lands devastated by wars? How are these memories incorporated into broader narrative flows through which Yugoslavia is historicized?
Tanja Petrović is a linguist and anthropologist. She is interested in uses and meanings of socialist and Yugoslav heritage and cultural identity in post-Yugoslav societies. She deals with the problematic of language in forming ideologies, memory and identity.
She is the Head of the Institute of Cultural and Memory Studies and coordinator of linguistic module Language as social practice in forming ideologies, memory and identities of the postgraduate programme Comparative studies of ideas and cultures at the ZRC SAZU Postgraduate school.