Senka Anastasova: “Anticipatory memory practices as a potentially potent tool in the fight against capitalism today”
Memory landscapes in (post)Yugoslavia
Edited by Milica Popović, Sciences Po CERI and University of Ljubljana and Natalija Majsova, University of Ljubljana.
Yugoslavia as a state existed twice, once as a monarchy and once as a socialist republic. Different historical legacies, state regimes, cultural and religious heritage are woven into the region – there is a myriad of different political entities and also a plenitude of political and/or national/ethnic identities. The dissolution of the socialist republic, responsible for an advanced modernization of the country and an unprecedented development of the region, ensued during the crisis of the 1980s, and continued all the way into the violent wars of the 1990s. In January 1992, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fell apart. The end of the Yugoslav state, however, did not feature the end of the Yugoslav idea or the end of Yugoslav memory. While all are marked by “political abuse of power and the deeply unjust privatization processes” (Dolenec 2013: 7), each of the seven republics of Yugoslavia: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo - reveals a particular memoryscape, abundant in internal battles, which sometimes converge and sometimes diverge, weaving a complex net of (post)Yugoslav memory.
In line with Catherine Baker's observation that “nationalism was an instrument, not a cause” (Baker 2015: 129), (post)Yugoslav memory continues to evolve in dialogue across the borders of (post)Yugoslav states. Although our approach in this series of interviews remains “republic-centered”, this does not in any way imply that we do not believe that (post)Yugoslav memory works as “nœuds de mémoire” (Rothberg 2009), producing new solidarities and possibilities for thought and action.
Before you is the final in a series of seven interviews with leading scholars in memory studies, each discussing memory politics within one of the (post)Yugoslav republics. While the online edition of Historical Expertise will publish them one by one as they are ready, the printed edition of the journal will gather them all together and provide a well-rounded whole – a comprehensive, in-depth outlook on the memory landscapes in the (post)Yugoslav space today.
M.P. and N.M.
- The case of North Macedonia.
“In the post-socialist gender regime, struggles for memories turned into a re-reading of the legacy and the memory practices related to the concept of ‘work’ in the socialist period, and the present Macedonia. Therefore, I would propose to focus on investigating what aspects of social reproduction theory from the socialist Yugoslav days could serve as a potential concept for understanding today’s democracy. This entails pointing out the social benefits of low-waged jobs, ‘female’ jobs, secure/insecure jobs, flexible jobs, the labor of care, the feminization of labor that includes the political, social and economic involvement of women in labor. Hence, anticipative memory practices, or the ‘memory of awakening’, would have the potential to emerge as a potent tool in the fight against capitalism today.”
Interview with Prof. Dr. Senka Anastasova, University Professor of Philosophy (Ss. Cyril and Methodius University), Visiting Academic Beatrice Bain Research Group at Gender and Women’s Studies Department, University of California Berkeley, the United States of America.
Questions, Abstract and Introduction by Milica Popović
Vienna-San Francisco, 29.12.2020.
Abstract: Having faced a veto by Bulgaria in its EU accession process for the third time, North Macedonia finds itself at the crossroads of various power interplays that are strongly embedded in memory politics. University Professor Dr. Senka Anastasova theorizes relations between history, historiography and narrative identities, and their ramifications in the context of memory politics. Specifically, she analyzes the memoryscape of North Macedonia, contextualizing the external pressures to North Macedonia’s EU accession process, implemented by EU member states Greece and Bulgaria. Reflecting on the importance of the socialist Yugoslav heritage of gender politics and Yugonostalgia, Anastasova outlines the numerous memory strategies used by the Macedonian political elites. In doing so, she accounts for the convergences and divergences between the two largest (Macedonian and Albanian) communities of North Macedonia. Her analysis of the project Skopje 2014, just one of the revisionist projects of the political elites, gives us an insight into the complicated memory struggles within and outside of North Macedonia.
Key words: memory politics, political philosophy, imagology, Yugonostalgia, socialist feminization of labor, popular culture, art
North Macedonia is a country which has suffered most directly from memory politics and struggles for identity recognition for a very long time. Despite being a candidate country since 2005, the country once again faces an obstacle in its EU-accession progress due to identitarian struggles and historical debates. In 2008, Greece vetoed the Macedonian application to NATO, and blocked the start of its EU accession negotiation process in 2009, both on the basis of contesting Macedonia’s name, which resembles the name of one of the Greek regions. The dispute was settled in 2018 under the government of Zoran Zaev; the government has since renamed the country previously known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into North Macedonia, while the central airport, briefly named after Alexander the Great, has been re-titled back into Skopje International Airport.
However, this was not the end of Macedonia’s struggle for international recognition of its identity. Just in November 2020, Bulgaria blocked its EU accession process on the basis of contesting the existence of Macedonian ethnic identity and language (Crowther 2017), until the two countries “settle disputes over history and language,” in the words of the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ekaterina Zaharieva. Bulgarian government representatives have continued to claim that the two countries share their cultural heritage. Accordingly, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, has recently expressed his wish to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the revolutionary Goce Delčev as a “shared hero” of Bulgaria and North Macedonia (“Borisov: Nadam se da ćemo sa Makedoncima proslaviti 150 godina rođenja Delčeva”, 04 February 2021). Bulgaria claims that Macedonia has never been anything more than a socialist invention of the Yugoslav regime, fuelling nationalist revisions of history by the Macedonian regime(s).
In the Balkans, ethno-national identities, in the sense they are generally understood in scholarship and public discourse today, had not become embedded in the populations’ consciousness till the 20th century. Rather, ethnic denominations coincided with religious, class, status and vocational identities (Detrez 2015). The territory of today’s North Macedonia, which had been under Ottoman rule till 1913, saw the coexistence of communities of Greek, Bulgarian, and Macedonian populations, which were in continuous flux, and used various ethnonyms, rather depending on religious belonging. Therefore, the very endeavor of trying to create imaginations of ethno-national identities that have been stable for centuries defies historical circumstances; solely serving nation-building exercises in the present.
North Macedonian territory had been annexed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1919. In 1945, it was proclaimed as one of the six autonomous republics of the Socialist Yugoslavia. In 1991, with the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia, Macedonia became independent.
The memory battles and identitarian debates between the Macedonian, the Greek and the Bulgarian discourses gaze back into the 6th century, when Slavic tribes had arrived in the region, which was then part of the Byzantine Empire (Eminoglu and Emir 2020: 211). Failing to acknowledge the multitude of identities in the region and their continuous mobility and interchangeability, memory battles led by political elites continue to influence the present of the Macedonian citizens.
In 2001, after the economically difficult transition period in the 1990s, Macedonia endured conflict, which lasted for six months and ended with the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) that introduced a consociational government regime, providing further rights to the ethnic Albanians. The agreement fortified the ethno-clientelistic framework of Macedonian politics (Piacentini 2019: 274). In 2006, it resulted in the formation of a long-lasting government by the VMRO-DPNE (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity), a nationalist Christian democratic party that monopolized power in the country (Crowther 2017).
“…The socialist legacy has been progressively erased from the public space and existing historical narratives forged around the common anti-fascist struggle have been played down and redefined” (Spaskovska 2014); and the government of the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski implemented a Lustration Law regarding the “socialist period” up to 2006, requiring “priests, journalists, NGO activists, lawyers and scientists” to submit statements on their possible collaboration with secret services (Piacentini 2019). Distancing from the socialist Yugoslav past was carried out in parallel with the strengthening of efforts to consolidate Macedonian identity, led by the government, through – among other – architectural and spatial changes to the capital – the city of Skopje.
In 2010, Nikola Gruevski’s government’s efforts to re-establish Macedonian national identity culminated in the initiation and implementation of the megalomaniac Skopje 2014 project intended to completely rebuild the state’s capital city. An eight-story-tall statue of Alexander the Great was thus erected in the main square of Skopje. Further plans included a new philharmonic hall, a new national theater, three new government buildings, a new business center, a new church, three new museums, two new hotels, a triumphal arch, two new bridges and over 20 new bronze and marble statues of national historical figures (Graan 2013). Everything was designed in the baroque and neoclassical style, as to obscure socialist heritage and Ottoman-era architecture; the aim was to make the capital “European” through the so-called “antiquization” of the city, which was decidedly mono-ethnic (Graan 2013: 169-170). In an attempt to reinvent heritage and reassert national identity (Janev 2016), the main aims of the project were de-Ottomanization and de-Yugoslavization, along with fortifying the mono-ethnic narrative of the Macedonian past. As multiple protestations to the project appeared in the public arena, by the architects, academic community and the citizens themselves, the second constitutive community, the Macedonian Albanian one, joined in response by another nationalist endeavor – in the center of Chair, one of Skopje’s municipalities, in 2007 a monument to Skenderbeg, Albania’s national hero, was built. The anti-nationalist sentiment was expressed most strongly during the anti-government protests in 2016, when the protesters threw paint on the Skopje 2014 monuments and facades (Janev 2017: 165).
As Skopje 2014 changed the image of the city and the memory narrative, political crises ensued, including a “wiretapping scandal” that compromised the government, and culminating in protests, the so-called Colorful Revolution in 2015. In 2016, negotiations between the political actors resulted in elections that led to the formation of a new government by the SDSM (Social Democratic Party of Macedonia) in coalition with the DUI (Democratic Union for Integration), and headed by Zoran Zaev as Prime Minister. Zaev’s efforts to change the name of the country in order to solve the dispute with Greece were successful; and then yet, Bulgaria’s move has again endangered the progress of North Macedonia’s EU integration. At the same time, since 2018, the SDSM has been dismantling and tearing down the monuments erected as part of Skopje 2014, marking another turn in memory politics in North Macedonia. As Bulgaria’s demands go as far as changing history textbooks, memory politics is as ever present in North Macedonia’s everyday reality.
In the following interview, Prof. Dr. Senka Anastasova offers her own perspective on the genesis and implications of the issues outlined above. Anastasova is a Professor of Political Philosophy and Aesthetics at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University. She is a feminist philosopher; editor in the International Board of the Editors of Hypatia, Journal for Feminist Philosophy and author of the books Narrative Identities and Theory of Cultural Studies: Contemporary Popular Culture and Women’s Cultural Studies. Anastasova has coordinated numerous research studies in the area of political sciences, women’s labor, Marxist feminism, postcolonial critique and feminist political theory. She has founded and is leading the Feminist Research Centre and Culture in Skopje, working on the concepts of democracy, populism, socialism, resistance, subcultures, cultural studies, political theory, intersectional feminism, and feminist caring economy today. She has been a visiting fellow at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, at the Department of Political Sciences and Arts and Humanities. In 2006 she received British Voya Condic Award (London) for philosophy and cultural theory. She has lectured at various universities, public spaces, and museums worldwide, including the Polish Academy of Sciences Warsaw, the Museum of Communism in Prague, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) in Belgrade, the University of Berlin, the Macquarie University in Sydney, the Dutch National Library in The Hague, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Geneva, the University of Seville, the Aalto University/KIASMA in Helsinki, the Mundaneum in Mons, the Emory University in Atlanta, and Sorbonne University in Paris. Since 2019, she holds the position of social scientific health delegate at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Currently, she is working on her new theory book at the University of California, Berkeley in the United States.
I would like to dedicate this interview to my aunty Niki from Zagreb. I haven’t seen her for more than ten years.
I visited her often during Yugoslavia days by night train Skopje–Belgrade–Zagreb.
She is an active woman on social networks, she would be happy to read this.
- One of your many research interests are narrative identities and the relationship between narratives and history. You have authored the book Narrative Identities in 2007, with a focus on Christa Wolf and Dubravka Ugrešić's scripts, where you have theorized the relations between the text and culture, looking into individual and social identities presented in public discourse and aesthetic practices, and their wider social implications and relations with history and memory politics. How do hegemonic memory narratives in North Macedonia, emanating from political elites, interact with nation-building politics, including the recent change in the name of the country?
I was born and grew up in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. As a girl, I used to live between Skopje, Zagreb, and Ljubljana until 1990, when the war happened. Nothing was the same after the end of Yugoslavia. For a long time, I wasn’t able to visit my family in Zagreb. Later, as a philosopher, I focused on that historical period, and developed theoretical concepts, just to understand better what happened with the mammoth country that Yugoslavia was. I see the process of discussing historical methodology as epistemology critique, as an “epistemo-critical prologue” developing theoretical concepts of thinking that allow accomplishing more than a historical re-reading of the past. My discourse here is grounded in a synchronic way of semantic thinking, not diachronic. When you think about narratives, identity, and history, the basis is the Hegelian dialectical method that implies that the present and the past stand in a dialectical relationship to one another, where one influences and reshapes the other. The term history signifies reality, an event which really happened, and historiography (récit historique) is the materialized text about this reality. History is an ambiguous term which unifies the objective and subjective sides of narration and equally denotes both historia rerum gestarum and res gestae, i.e. it points out that historical narration appears at the same time with the historic events.
Thinking of the concept of “narrative identities” means a philosophical reflection about building a nation through narrative, memory and language; first in theory, and later in praxis. I explore this concept in my book Narrative Identities where I applied a theoretical approach to the concept of nation through the “auctorial” position of narration, positioning the narrator in history as “objective” and “personal” at the same time, with differences in the re-telling qualities of memory. Every nation is a construct in history; every nation has the right to stretch this concept of nation and its definition. The extension of the memory practices of one nation depends on what is framed as historical trauma, cultural politics, and cultural norms. One performs meaning in history while acting through the language of expression. French philosopher Jacques Derrida shows that complete meaning is always “differential” and postponed in language. Derrida coins the word différance to express the nature of language, both as a system of differences and as the endless deferral of meaning. To understand this is to understand memory of cultural tradition in a strongly contextualized complex geolocation of materialized artefacts (through discourses and practices), out of which a certain type of plot for the nation is derived later in praxis. Hence, understanding memory narration for a nation is in accordance with the explicative potentials of memory politics. Namely, it institutes a cushioning relation between the rigid denial of the memory narrative through history and the leveling of historiography.
In the Macedonian context, there was a process of ideological transformation and transgression from the socialist “yug” (“south” in Slavic languages) as essential unity, despite differences in cultures and historical experience, to the contemporary memory context. If every nation is an imagined community, in Benedict Anderson’s (1983) sense, then national identity is always potentially up for grabs. Paradoxically, national identity is, as Anderson puts it, conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship; the elites who forge a nation must always assert that their nation is not a created object, but rather the expression of an already existing unity. Building a nation happens on the level of collective memory practices that provide an ideological base for unity. Memory organizes the democracy through making a nation and breaking a nation (as a prison). In Walter Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History (1999), the future is not conceived as the aim of history, as an end that fulfills the promise. Walter Benjamin opposes to the idea of a memoryless subject incarnating the future – that is, to the very opposition between the past and the future – a suspension of the past in order to save its promises and its possibilities. What has to be elaborated in greater detail is the intrinsic connection between these two gestures, the one that refuses future goals as teloi of history, and the one that “rescues” memory and inherited promises. Political hegemony comes to the stage to produce nationalist reactions, recognizable and often exposed in authoritarian regimes. In this sense, this theory allows the interpretation that the “name” is not equivalent to the “identity”, hence, the meaning is not bounded to the signifier; one can never catch the meaning in the chains of language.
The Republic of Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia on September 8, 1991. In 1993, the country was named Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (with FYROM as an acronym), as designated by the United Nations (UN) due to the bilateral and international issue that appeared, i.e. the dispute between Greece and Macedonia that lasted from 1991 to 2019. In political discourse, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia became a provisional reference that formalized bilateral relations between Greece and Macedonia in order to start negotiations on the naming issue under the auspices of the UN. The FYROM implied substantives of the Yugoslav past in the (still) never-ending process of transition towards the European Union. The process of aspiration for integration of the country into the EU has become a tremendous saga, an irrational agony for the country that was one of the first ex-Yugoslav countries that were invited to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement. Now, the country is lost somewhere in the “waiting room”, together with Serbia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country changed its name to North Macedonia following the Prespa agreement in June 2018. With the subsequent ratification by the Macedonian and Greek parliaments in late 2018, the amendment entered into force in February 2019, following the ratification of the Prespa Agreement and the Protocol on the Accession of North Macedonia to NATO by the Greek Parliament. The official renaming of Macedonia into North Macedonia happened on the February 12, 2019. Changing the name has been a condition to start the process of joining the European Union.
I am speaking from the position of a political philosopher, I am not a historian. By the term “political” I refer to the series of encounters between philosophical concepts and political events in history that require sometimes subversive conceptual inventions in contemporary political regulations.
Changing the name Macedonia into North Macedonia is a surgical political act that shows the process of identification depends on the exclusion of differences in praxis, and, unfortunately, a hierarchal opposition in political decisions. The name-change implemented by the political elites is a successful ending to the Macedonians’ agonizing dispute with Greece over the name issue. But, it is also a painful process for Macedonians that has made them feel odd, humiliated, with ugly feelings (Ngai 2007); especially with the current blockade by Bulgaria that took place at the end of 2020. This happened after years of the country’s “pending” status in front of the doors of the EU. Hence, due to the existence of the conditions for “calculative” possibilities towards history, I see the memory politics of interpretation as frontal in political philosophy. This is not equal to the interpretative practices of political theory and the political comments, but means addressing the correlation of the authority of the interpreter (elites) vis-à-vis the established social-political authority of the other interpreters and contexts. The Macedonian case shows that this name change only happened because of the anticipative praxis towards the EU, which means that this decision cannot be abstracted from the political and the contextual drama of the present.
- How much is memory politics in North Macedonia conditioned by the state’s peripheral position and by EU memory politics? How do you comment on Bulgaria veto?
The political discourse of revisionism in the Macedonian context is realized in the palimpsest manner of transitional practices towards the EU. These practices also demonstrate the obscure processes of dealing with historical heritage that Macedonia shares with Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia; in the contemporary wild “grey zone” of global capitalism. There is a tension between memory as a distinctive force on the one hand, and memory with its integrating and prospective tendencies, on the other hand. The Greek veto on the name of “Macedonia” lasted for years. In October 2019, France, led by Emmanuel Macron, put a veto on Macedonia continuing the process of integration into the European Union. In late November 2020, Bulgaria blocked the opening of the Macedonia’s negotiation process over integration into the EU, questioning the concepts of Macedonian nation, identity, language and history. Bulgaria demands negotiations on these issues before the integration process is resumed.
The EU could “exclude” these bilateral issues and mark them as “venues between two neighboring states”, that is questions that must be negotiated in the future, but simultaneously allow Macedonia to continue the accession process. Contrary to this, I see a quiet demonstration of power by the EU over Macedonia at the moment. This is not a porn trade parade. Do they want pathetic discourses, or Macedonia asking for mercy? Or, they are forcing a nation to be auto-corrected (erased in history) in order to later be invited to dinner? No, thank you. I see these “Europeanization” processes as a demonstration of power over the “generation of transitions”. Bulgaria, with its empty rhetoric, is thus allowed to have a night of bad quality fun.
Your question also invites a comprehensive answer related to understanding the dark peripheries of Europe in the 21th century. The periphery of cultural memory politics has the strength to transform Europe from the inside. From a democratic perspective, cultural differences that come from the small countries should be left to exist in Europe. From a left-wing perspective, the process of EU integration has uncovered another angle of the “new” peripheries of the South-Eastern European countries and countries in transitions. One of the questions that concern me the most is: Could one speak about global memory practices while there is an awareness of post-colonialism? In Imagining the Balkans, Maria Todorova talks about imagology, an entire discipline that deals with the images and memory of the Other. Vetoes from France and Bulgaria testify to the domination and power of the European Union. In terms of symbolic conventions and the semantics of political discourse, it implies that Macedonia is “not ready”– as states the rhetoric of the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva. In the context of memory practices, the process of Europeanization itself implies an obvious difference from the European “family”. The EU should be more pragmatic in finding a way of integrating “the rest” of South-Eastern European periphery memories and the peripheral position of these memories, a place where the past is located in the present, a space where past experience and the yet-to-be or not-yet-experienced future converge. The never-ending pending status of Macedonia is worse than “to be colonized”. The EU has its own balkanizing gaze of keeping some parts of Europe at an inferior stage; it seems that not all Europeans are equal, some of them are more European than others. Edward Said says to be colonized means potentially to be a great many different, but inferior things, in many different places, at many different times.
Actually, through the Bulgarian veto, Europe speaks without speaking, you can sense the dominant position over the other countries, as in the case of insisting on changing the Church’s calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian variant, a demand that Greece, Romania and Bulgaria accepted. Most Macedonian Orthodox people find this a sensitive question. All this takes place in the context of democratization strategies, and with the intention of constructing homogenous “European” citizens. Memory is invested with “unification” claims, in other words, unification has an impact on memory production on different levels, and not only in the global arena. Through the rhetoric of Bulgaria’s veto, the European Union insists on shaping and transforming all local and national memories in response to the challenges of a homogenous “European” citizen and the colonization of memory cultures and memory politics. What move should be taken now? Is it the European Union’s official demand that all differences (language, culture, history, nation) from the prospective EU countries be “unified”? If the answer is yes, then Macedonia should stop this political saga towards the EU and should try to find an alternate sets of moves.
- Which founding myths do you find playing the essential role in the hegemonic memory narratives in North Macedonia? Are these mythologies finding their way into popular culture and how are they performed? We can think of the monument project in Skopje (2014) as a prime example of recreating heritage – could you comment on this?
The transition experienced by the post-socialist Yugoslavia is rooted in the ideological paradigms and political practices that, in the Macedonian case, give space to the grey zone of economic capitalism and ethno-nationalism (including patriarchalism, xenophobia, nationalism, traditionalism). The hegemonic narratives of recreating historical heritage were most visible during the rule of Nikola Gruevski (2006–2016), when Macedonians experienced an authoritarian government and a political constellation that encouraged severe revisionism and anticommunist readings of history, rewriting it through antiquity.
The revision of the history by Gruevski’s government started by the validation of identification with antiquity, as an “adopted” part of the past interpreted as “ours”. This deepened the conflict with Greece at the level of diplomatic discourse. Skopje 2014 was a massive project of public sculptures, monuments, offices, administrative buildings, historical museums that gave off the aura of Disneyland. Skopje 2014 was a project of pop-hyperreality of simulated nationalism to be built, in Jean Baudrillard’s (1981) terms. In front of our eyes, we saw the semantic Disneyfication of Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, with its most communist architecture and brutal modernist buildings (like the Central Post Office by Janko Konstantinov). Disneyland here is presented as an imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and America that surround it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation associated in our case with Ancient Macedonia. Project Skopje 2014 has become a project of empty signifiers, of empty identification with antiquity, understood in the sense of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1994). It shows that the sociality of desiring production is to amend the Freudian conception of the libido structured around antiquity as trauma. This process of building Skopje 2014 does not civilize the traumatic experience, but is the effect of distortions arising out of the system of antiquity itself. In Deleuze and Guattari’s reading of Sigmund Freud (1994), what was ultimately repressed now exists in the visibility of mass visualization. In the terminology used by Freud, this is where unconscious activity takes place, where ideology is produced and where the regulation of the economy of sexual drives reproduces the distortion with fascist tendencies over the people. It is a restrictive set of traumatic memory practices at imaginary and symbolic levels. As Slavoj Žižek (1989) puts it in his reflection on ideological hegemony: it is thus not the case of some particular content directly filling the void, but rather, the very form of ideological universality bears witness to the struggle between (at least) two particular contents: the “popular” content expressing the secret longings of the dominated majority, and the specific content expressing the forces of domination. All forms of fascist, imperialist, dictatorial mysticism can be traced back to the distortion caused by the patriarchal and authoritarian organization of the state.
Skopje 2014 is about the crisis of identity, the crisis of the interpretation of identity. It was a project based on the principles of reduction ab absurdum, where the motto of “organization” of society by the “narcissistic leader” (authoritarian) have the same status in Freud’s libidinal economy of meaning. Antiquity was never at the forefront of Macedonian history; Macedonians have Slavic roots which are reflected in the language, in the cultural context, and in the Orthodox religion. The process of inserting antiquity started with forced street-name changes and with the erection of the grand Alexander the Great monument in the center of Skopje. In Lacanian terms, an object was elevated to the dignity of the Thing. Hence, the object of hegemonic investment is simply the name that is appreciated within a certain historical horizon; this is a politically-motivated approach. This was how national homogenization was approached by the right-wing and nationalistic political parties. Avoiding the resolution of the “identity crisis” in the negotiations with Greece and transposing themselves into antiquity provoked the return of cold diplomatic relations.
Skopje 2014 was also a project that removed certain monuments from the period of the socialist Yugoslavia. One of the famous monuments that were removed was “Obelisk” – a symbol commemorating Nazi occupation. For more than 40 years, this monument was a symbol of World War II, until it was replaced with the statue of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and his family. The reason for its removal was not given. “Officially” it was part of the reconstruction of the city, but behind the operation was the Gruevski government’s aim to make money off the project. Just recently, the new left-wing government decided to demolish the monuments of Skopje 2014, which is another politics of erasing the past, erasing memory, paradoxically leaving traces of another ideology.
There is no hegemony without the construction of a popular (grand) identity out of plurality within the relational complex which explains the conditions of both the forces from the below and above. Hegemony is merely the positive reversal of a situation experienced as “deficient being”. The logic of the objet petit a (empty signifier in the Lacanian sense) and hegemonic logic are not just similar, they are identical. In political philosophy, there is an attempt to polarize in terms of opposing revolution and reformism, but what escapes this line of thinking is the alternative logic of the objet petit a – this is to say, the possibility that can become an impossible totality (in other words hegemony). This is the way, in the Marxist tradition, how the Gramscian representation of hegemony acts as a crucial epistemological break. The only possible totalizing horizon is given by the hegemonic force, which enacts the representation of a mythical totality. As Ernesto Laclau explains in On Populist Reason (2005), the popular symbol or identity (expressed as antiquity in the Macedonian case), being a surface of inscription, does not passively express what is inscribed in it, but actually constitutes what it expresses through the very process of its expression. In other words, expressing “unity of the nation” through antiquity and monuments is the decisive moment in establishing this unity; through the process of inserting antiquity in overlap with the previous historical layers.
- How do you see your research and teaching in dialogue with the memories on the socialist Yugoslavia, most notably in the field of gender politics and with regard to the women’s question?
I have recently attended a Zoom promotion and discussion on a new book, The Routledge History Handbook of Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th Century, Vol. 3 (Intellectual Horizons of the 20th Century). In the discussion that I had with Holly Case, a historian of modern Europe whose work focuses on the relationship between foreign and social policies in the European state system of the 20th century, we addressed precisely the issues raised here. Post-Yugoslav countries, in an attempt to overcome a traumatized history, have continued to build hyper-politicized memories. I am interested in the question that is related to unfolding the collective memories of a nation: from which position of memory narration do we speak and teach about intellectual history, hegemony, margins and dominant cultures? What is feminist there? I think the answer lies in the recognition of suppressed memories and relations to the force of the state’s hegemony, both political and economic, within the discussion on revisionist cultural memory politics. The socialist society that we had in the former Yugoslavia started to disappear with the transition and the privatization of socially-owned property through wild capitalist and corruption processes. After the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonian factories were shut down and destroyed with privatization, notably the textile and garment industry, which has traditionally been feminized and related to women’s labor. This happened under the former Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski’s government (1992–1998), when the middle class began to vanish, immediately after the country’s independence. The privatization processes in Macedonia have been worse than in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
History says that in April 1949 in Washington, D.C., 12 states from both sides of the Atlantic founded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Pact. One of the tasks of this group was to challenge the threats from the communist part of the world and to stop the spread of communism in the rest of Europe. Eastern Europe was a euphemism for real-socialism. The term was used for the first time by Soviet and Eastern European theorists focusing on Marxist-Leninism in Yugoslavia, China, and Third World countries; all of which also called themselves “socialist”. There is a difference between a communist (revolutionary) totalitarian regime and a socialist republic as its antidote. The construction of long-term hegemony is the process of emptying cultural and historical signifiers in the construction of a historical singularity of the dominant narrative, and this is structural pressure of forces in a society. These are the official historical tendencies in populism today; in terms of what it lacks, its ideological emptiness, empty signifiers and hegemony, its anti-intellectualism, its transitory character, and generalized rhetoric. The official politics in the former Yugoslavia was based on “internationalism”, international relations with anti-imperialist social and political movements fighting for solidarity; and on the global struggle for socialism, self-management, freedom and democracy.
At university, I teach women’s studies and post-socialist feminist theory with a shifted focus from the institutional/political sphere to the inner dynamics of self-management and organization, based on the model of Yugoslav society in the 1980s. Since World War II, women’s political, economic, and social rights had been inscribed in the Federal Constitution, as had been women’s access to education and labor processes in the labor market. This was an inclusive process of the integration of women (and their painful memories of being women) from the less wealthy parts of the former Yugoslavia into the industrialization process. Balkan Studies or Post-Yugoslav Studies is a broader field; encompassing literature, music, memory, collective memory, pop culture, folk culture, alternative culture, art, media, political activism, dissent culture, economy, organizational society, studies beyond the paradigm of ethno-nationalism in the former Yugoslav republics.
From a contemporary point of view, focusing on the paradigm of political and cultural memory politics allows us to research the context of dogmatic socialism and social citizenship in socialist and post-socialist, post-Yugoslav states. Socialist feminist political theory opens up the memory of female labor, organization of the society, gender regimes and how female industrial transformations happened, moving jobs into the private domain and households. The case of Macedonia shows that after forced privatizations during the long transition period, gender relations and gender regimes were transformed, hand in hand with privatization, pushed into the sphere of private and unpaid feminine domestic labor, as Silvia Federici says (2012). This is important for understanding the stages of the memory of female labor practices that has never been static. Women’s labor and female workers across the former Yugoslavia were part of the social-political organization of society based on an equal basis, with social rights and a welfare system, a system well organized against gender inequalities. During World War II, women took part in the war (keeping the leading feminized positions of essential workers, teachers, nurses), and after that, after Freedom, there was a whole model of women’s historical pattern of participation in the labor force; throughout the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, and not only in Macedonia. As Chiara Bonfiglioli (2013) states, in October 1978, the Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade hosted the international conference entitled “Comrade Woman: The Woman’s Question: A New Approach?” (“Drug-ari-ca žena, Žensko pitanje: novi pristup?”) which explored the issue of inequality and challenged gender equality in socialist self-management, which was a unique initiative of second-wave feminism in Eastern Europe. Balkan feminist studies should explore these questions and topics.
In the post-socialist gender regime, struggles for memories turned into a re-reading of the legacy and the memory practices related to the concept of “work” in the socialist period, and the present Macedonia. Therefore, I would propose to focus on investigating what aspects of social reproduction theory from the socialist Yugoslav days could serve as a potential concept for understanding today’s democracy. This entails pointing out the social benefits of low-waged jobs, “female” jobs, secure/insecure jobs, flexible jobs, the labor of care, the feminization of labor that includes the political, social and economic involvement of women in labor. Hence, anticipative memory practices, or the “memory of awakening”, would have the potential to emerge as a potent tool in the fight against capitalism today.
- How do you portray the individual and collective Yugoslav memory narratives in today’s North Macedonia? In what sense and to what extent are personal memories of socialist Yugoslavia in conflict with state memory politics? Do you notice any examples which you would identify as the phenomenon of Yugonostalgia?
A few years ago, I visited the Museum of Communism in Prague for the first time; I was invited to give a lecture on women’s labor and dissent cultures in the former Yugoslavia. The first room I entered was a red one, with an empty corner and only an old model of a telephone left at the desk that was suggested to have been ringing in communist offices. Nostalgia or post-communist nostalgia should be a reminder of socialist times, of the system that was destroyed, of the whole symbolic representation that was destroyed in capitalism.
Yugonostalgia, for me, is nostalgia for the healthcare system, which has been ruined by capitalism, nostalgia for social care protection, for high standards and values in higher education. The post-Yugoslav people miss the socialist world in post-socialist societies. Yugonostalgia has been raised to the level of a symbol of socialist times in Yugoslav popular culture; encompassing summer family trips with our red Fiat or Lada to Dubrovnik or Montenegro; brotherhood and unity (bratstvo i jedinstvo); socialist job security; paid summer vacations; paid sick leave; the right to free education and to healthcare; comradeship; the marginalization of nationalism and solidarity actions; a good living standard; and the Yugoslav self-management system as a real alternative to the Soviet model of communism. The Yugoslav self-management system gave the workers the right to have democratic control over the factories and their workplaces. The Yugoslav model was an outstanding model of socialism in Eastern Europe, a kind of a hybrid model of labor socialism and the self-management system.
In mainstream discourses, as Maria Todorova (2009) says, nostalgia is an anachronism, it is the ideology of the slaves or neglected people. But not Yugonostalgia. Yugonostalgia is something that we discuss among USA scholars these days; remembering Yugoslavia as a model somewhere between the United States’ capitalism and the Soviet Union’s communism. All the memories grow around Yugo-Communism or are about the Yugoslav welfare model: health services and healthcare rights, including national health insurance; social security and care; the right to paid leave; the idea that the increase of the health budget automatically meant a pay rise for the healthcare workers; decentralization through self-government processes; the economic stability; workers’ participation in the economic sphere; the democratization of the workplace through workers’ participation in the decision-making processes; peace; no borders; free travel and no visas.
I shall limit myself to cultural memory here. Memory theory distinguishes between personal and collective memory (Assmann 2010), so I understand cultural memory as externalization and objectivation of memory, which is individual in images and other lieux de mémoire. In cultural and political theory, every image of the past, which is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns, is threatened to disappear irretrievably. Human memory is always related to time and identity. Each form of memory has its specific time-range. The distinction between different forms of memory refers to their structure and it works more as a dynamic, creating tension and transition between the different perspectives of the discussion. Personally, I didn’t want to look at Tito’s portrait above the refrigerator in the kitchen in the everyday households when I was a girl. I didn’t want him to look at me while I was eating our pink strawberry ice cream with my little sister. I also have a traumatic experience from the blue uniforms that we have to wear to school – I wanted anarchy at that moment, to use that weird material and to transform it into a short skirt, into a blue flag, putting on my blue lipstick and dyeing my hair blue at the same time.
Macedonian nostalgia today is a socialist nostalgia against capitalism. Once, I gave my Yugoslav boyfriend the book Lexicon of Yu Mythology as a gift on our first date. But I don’t only make romance with raw communism. Jodi Dean, a professor and a strong voice of left-wing critique, the author of Comrade (2019), while speaking about Vivian Gornick’s book Romance of American Communism (first published in 1977) mentions that American communism is an “enduring human feeling” rather than a set of specific principles. Jodi Dean refuses all accommodation with the language of identity and self-realization, as Gustavus Stadler mentioned in the great essay “A Communism of Feelings” (2020). Why is this important for my understanding of Yugonostalgia? Political memory shares its externalized quality with cultural memory, but it depends on the political context that institutes it; whereas cultural memory grows over time, as an interaction between nostalgia, structural organization in society, and political actions. Yugonostalgia is about being a communist, but it is also about being fully human. Yugonostalgia is also about the commodification of the Yugoslav past (in the sense of kitsch), from the contemporary point of view, but also it is about consuming transformative epiphany, an evocation of private museums of vintage Yugoslav books in our homes, vinyls, collectible shoes, the culture of everyday life, the memory of the socialist past and the quality of life and solidarity in the post-socialist narratives today in a sepia soc-realist filter. Grandmother’s and grandfather’s white Fićo, aunty’s red Yugo, Dupa’s Dio video club, small rock clubs, bars 2F, Café ZZ-Top, Visage, Bazar magazine, Politikin Zabavnik, Vuna magazine, “Pletenje” books, vacations on the Island of Mamula (Montenegro), Solidarnost posters, Black Wave movies, Partisan movies, Crvena Zvezda and Partizan football teams, learning Cyrillic vs Latin script. Linda Hutcheon (1988) pointed out that nostalgia is always “transideological”, or something that could be described as longing about “identity illusion” (Sen 2006).
In my first theoretical book Narrative Identities, I write about the museum of memories, a socialist daily life journey built in the narratives of Dubravka Ugrešić, a writer from ex-Yugoslavia, and Christa Wolf, a writer and director from Germany. I work on memory politics not as a representation of memory, but rather as the enactment of the operations of memory, in the sense of Renate Lachmann (1997), reading colonial and postcolonial discourses and cultural artefacts. In a philosophical sense, I pointed out the differences between history and historiography, and how the past that is “not” recognized by the present will be lost. Memory functions in the direction of identity which, in all contexts, always implies a notion of difference. In this sense, to speak about Yugonostalgia today means to speak about a belief system of a certain time, it means to speak about these times through memory-preservation practices.
A few weeks ago, in an a public social-network-aired conversation about the essay “What the end of Yugoslavia taught me about belonging” by A. Baric (2020), Patrizia Nobbe (executive director at the Alliance of Seven German Universities of Applied Sciences – UAS7) mentioned that almost the same painful sentiment resonates within the Eastern Germany. She was right. It is easy to romanticize a state that no longer exists. The GDR example unveils a micro-level of societal relations that was only possible due to non-autonomous entities such as the work brigades, or social organizations, with limited freedom of expression. In post-communist times, the rhetoric of totalitarianism wanted to make people believe that their lives under socialism were misery, which points to a tension between freedom and oppression. Today, the global left should build the economy on the basis of democratic socialism. At this moment, I can only note this approach in the campaign of Gloria La Riva, an American socialist activist, focused on how to save the periphery from the pressures of the global market; how to strengthen solidarity within the women’s labor market in post-socialist gender regimes; how to fight against unemployment and against precarity and to build a strong radical mass movement. This plan for a broader vision, beyond the European Union project, requires a renewed cooperation between the post-Yugoslav nations across the Balkans.
- What would you define as the specifics of memory politics in North Macedonia in relation to the rest of the (post)Yugoslav space? Would you estimate that the national minorities in North Macedonia, notably the Albanian community, have developed their own counter-memory strategies inherent to their minority position and different reading of the past?
I am interested in the dynamics of social memory. In the southern parts of Yugoslavia, the memory of socialism has become fragmented and dispersed during long-term transition processes. In Yugoslavia, the less developed southern republics were funded by the redistribution of profit from the more developed northern republics. The Yugoslav economic strategy, often based on loan systems, resulted in instability and as foreign pressure rose, the republics formed new bilateral relationships. In North Macedonia, from the point of view of memory politics, we see a process of transformation of the embodied memory of socialism into a long-term cultural memory based on the dramatic shift of the transition. To reflect on mnemohistory, I have to look back to Ante Marković, the last Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, whose government (1989-1991) abolished self-management. This was followed by the deepening of structural gaps in the economy that eventually led to collapse. Can there be such a thing as a precarious memory? It could be argued that the juxtaposition of “transition” and “stable employment” is a contradiction in adjecto in capitalism. I explained above that memories are tied to identities; they support the self-image of communities. Self-management transformed to adjust to market reforms (and market competition) and this was contradictory to the system’s goals and promises. Hence, collective memories necessarily have their limits and boundaries and are tied to class as well. Social memory has specific qualities bounded to collective memory and labor as well.
Despite the economic and the political crisis, Macedonians today have a “crisis generation”, at many levels encompassing:
- Identity debates with Greece (constructed into the “geo-location” issue and symbolic geography)
- Language and history debates with Bulgaria
- Church recognition debates with Serbia
- Ethno-nationalism issues with Macedonian Albanians
- the European Union accession crisis, the biggest post-political crisis after Yugoslavia that from the perspective of political ontology, provides tools to describe transformative forces and processes.
In the 1920s, Maurice Halbwachs (1992) investigated social memory and described history(iography) as the inclusive memory of humanity, from which he distinguished collective memories that are embodied by specific groups and therefore always partial and particular. Later, the French historian Pierre Nora (1996) reinforced the same dichotomy, claiming that memory and history are in many respects opposed; memory wells up from the groups that it welds together, which is to say that there are as many memories as there are groups; memory is by nature multiple, yet specific, collective and plural, yet individual. By contrast, history belongs to everyone and to no one and therefore has a universal vocation. Having in mind that, for memory politics, history is universal, while memory practices are particular and specific, it should be mentioned that Macedonia had tense bilateral diplomatic relations with Serbia ever since Macedonia recognized Kosovo’s independence in October 2008. But this lasted a few months, and communication was reestablished. A bigger issue that still persists concerns relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church. In canonical terms, the Macedonian Orthodox Church must be resolved by the Serbian Orthodox Church, as was the direct demand of the Russian Orthodox Church, given that the Macedonian Orthodox Church was formed through non-canonical separation from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967. This issue has lasted for almost half a century.
In the end, there is also the issue of self-perception and self-colonization, as an aspiration to sell the image of the country abroad as something exotic and “rare” – as this was shown in the Macedonian documentary Honeyland (2019) nominated for an Oscar last year. The image is again interwoven into the nightmare of capitalism; while Atidze (the main character in the movie) has a hard life today, her village is sold as a main tourist attraction. The mnemonic space unfolds between the past and future. This film shows that in social and cultural memory, the present is sometimes lost in repressed memory, or in prospective, anticipative memory that we are waiting for, one that would confront our current culture.
In political theory, societal development is always long-term work that involves constant critique of the political institutions and re-evaluations of the processes of transformation of political thoughts. After Macedonia gained independence in 1991, it was the only country from the former Yugoslavia with no war or conflicts. The paradigm of ethnocentrism became reality. Albanians, who constitute a third of the population, have been neglected through discriminatory politics and Albanophobia. In 2001, an armed conflict occurred, after ten years of ethnic tensions. In 2001, a young man was murdered by a member of the police, and the resulting unrests led to a revolt, that many rushed to term a “delayed May 68” (Sadiku 2016). But the formal politics remained unchanged, lacking any coherent political vision for the future and living standards. After the Social Democrats won the elections, the tensions calmed down. Since 2019, the Albanian language has been a co-official language in the country, and the Macedonians and the Albanians experience the co-existence of a different culture, while the quality of communication between them has been improving. In terms of the mnemotechnic representation of the narrative, the ethnic relations between Macedonians and Macedonian Albanians have shifted over the past decade, with attempts to overcome historical trauma. In contemporary politics, social development goals should not be determined based on ethnic factors. In mnemotechnic narratives of cultural trauma many political decisions have been changed with respect to the embodied memory practices of the Macedonian Albanians (for example, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Macedonia is led by a minister who comes from a Macedonian Albanian political party). Of course, experiences from mnemohistory show that one has to distance oneself in order to talk about the present memory community, with the aim of improving it in the future. Yet Macedonians and Macedonian Albanians have something that we call “shared geo-memory” that structures the entire community’s memory, and refers to the multicultural background of the social and political reality. In micropolitical cultural memory theory, I would refer to Walter Benjamin (1999): history breaks down into images rather than stories, so when you want to express “historical memory” related to ethno-nationalism, it always implies a process of condensation and intensification of the images. From a political perspective, and not just in a declarative sense, we have to be focused on the future, human rights, and the non-unifications of cultural differences at the micro level in one society, and in the European Union too.
- Given that the interview will be published in a Russian journal, another question remains relevant. What is the public discourse towards the Russian Federation, on one hand, and USSR on the other hand, today? Are there key Russian figures prominent in North Macedonian memory narratives, such as Stalin and maybe others?
There is a dark joke. There was a seasoned vaudeville comedian who took the stage of a Berlin cabaret one night in 1933. He raised his hand in a Nazi salute. But instead of saying “Heil Hitler!” he asked “Heil? What was his name again?” and began to tell a joke mocking the National Socialist Party. Within seconds, the Gestapo officers rushed to the stage and whisked him away. By some miracle he survived the next twelve years in the camps and when released, the first thing he did was return to the old cabaret club. He mounted the stage again and raised his hand in a fascist salute, the de-Nazified crowd gasped, but then he broke the tension and quipped, “Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted …”. (Rosen 2008). This joke and urban myth emerged from the ashes of the Third Reich and sums up the commonly accepted image of modern dictatorships: as rude interruptions in the history of dark comedy.
The story does have a genuine historical parallel with Stalinist tyranny in the period of Soviet Russia or the Orwellian 1984 nightmare. Yugoslavia had a socialist system close to so-called “democratic socialism”. Initially, the cohesive structures, such as the Informbiro (Communist Information Bureau) founded in September 1947 with the main office in Belgrade, led to the independent path of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) and the Yugoslav communists, after their split with the Soviet Union in 1948. Josip Broz Tito reacted to the lack of “democracy”; actually Tito’s direct confrontation with Stalin was about Tito’s plans for a Balkan federation (Yugoslav aspirations for the territories of Albania and Bulgaria) and a non-equal economic relationship between Yugoslavia and the USSR.
After this dramatic period, Tito sent everyone who shared Soviet inclinations or who promoted the Macedonian nationalist cause (Koteska 2010), to the most dangerous and controversial part of the former Yugoslavia – the Goli Otok camp.
On the national level, collective memory related to Russia is mostly manifest in cultural memory, literature and education, beyond raw memories. But in reality, memories are the terrain of political interpretation. In North Macedonia, the far right used to have inclinations at the diplomatic level towards closer relations with Russia (during Gruevski’s government). Memory relations between Russia and North Macedonia at the moment are a matter of over-contextualization or de-contextualization. Today, in the sense of memory politics, the influence of Russia in Macedonia is more de-contextualized from its historical embeddedness, and it comes through the Serbian Orthodox Church. Yet, since the contemporary politics of North Macedonia is pro Euro-Atlantic in orientation, at the moment, there are no tendencies of diplomacy of open doors towards Russia.
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 All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo. It is important to note that in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Kosovo had the status of an autonomous province, while the other six states had a status of a republic.
 Editors’ note: The interview took place throughout the second half of 2020, before the Bulgarian veto to North Macedonia’s EU entry process. Additional interventions about the Bulgarian veto were added by Anastasova just before the publication of the text.
 Editors' note: Goce Delčev was a revolutionary from late 19th–early 20th century. He fought against the Ottoman rule and endorsed the idea of “Macedonia to Macedonians” through a regional lens rather than an ethno-national one. He is considered as the most important revolutionary of the Macedonian ethno-national identity and the leader of the Ilinden rising, which led to a briefly independent Kruševo republic – today marked as the first Macedonian republic.
 Lexicon of Yu Mythology (“Leksikon YU mitologije”) is a project between the publishing house Postscriptum (Zagreb) and Rende (Beograd), based on the concept by Dubravka Ugrešić, Dejan Kršić and Ivana Moleka in 1989. The first edition of the book was published in 2004, edited by Vladimir Arsenijević, Đorđe Matić and Iris Adrić.
 Author's note: This results in the high percentage of inequality and unemployment. In the 1980s the official unemployment rate ranged from 1.5 per cent in Slovenia to more than 30 per cent in Macedonia. At the level of industry, economy, and reproduction theory Macedonians have similar issues as other post-Yugoslav countries, as Croatia and Serbia. From the “sewing grey heart for the EU” Macedonia turned into a “black bypassed hole”, during the worsened economic transition days of the crisis of 2008/2009. High inflation persists across the region and the unemployment rate in the region ranges from around 22 per cent in Croatia up to 27 per cent in Serbia and 33 per cent in Macedonia. This happened especially in the textile labor factories and the industrial infrastructure (developed during socialism) and affected mostly women workers. These days, with the Covid-19 pandemic situation, this is more affected and visible and precarious workers are the most affected. (Author’s research sources)
 Author's note: Under Stalin, the Soviet Union had become a despotic bureaucracy. All Lenin's concepts of governance were highly centralized, and millions of people who were thinking differently were killed, parallel to the process of rapid industrialization. Tensions between the Yugoslavs and their foreign-policy collaboration with the Soviet Union appeared when Yugoslavia developed its own force to fight autonomously from the Soviet Red Army.