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Workshop: Bringing class back in: The dynamics of social change in (post) Yugoslavia

The Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz, invites submissions for a two day workshop to be held in Graz on the 7-8th December 2012. The goal of the workshop is to collect contributions which flesh out the notion of social class in socialist Yugoslavia, during the state’s dissolution and in its contemporary successor states. We invite draft abstract submissions for eventual papers/chapters. An edited collection on this theme is foreseen for 2013.

Social class is understood in its broadest sense as a set of contested concepts centred on models of social stratification in which people are grouped according to social categories defined in terms of material wealth, occupation, genealogy etc… This workshop seeks to assess the validity of class concepts in the study of Yugoslavia and the state’s demise. Our starting point for this workshop is the paradox that although Yugoslavia was officially a classless society, class stratification was deeply ingrained in the social fabric of the state and has not been sufficiently tackled in the academic literature. Social divisions in Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav societies have primarily been conceived of in terms of nationalism and ethnicity, rural/urban cleavages, political orientation and notions of culture (kultura/nekultura).

We invite proposals from scholars of social sciences/interdisciplinary backgrounds. While the primary focus is on the latter years of Yugoslavia (1970s and 1980s), the state’s dissolution and the contemporary Yugoslav successor states, we are open to complimentary themes (e.g. on neighbouring states, other time-frame) and comparative approaches (comparing Yugoslavia with other countries or comparing components of former Yugoslavia with each other) providing it fits into the workshop’s aim which is to assess the utility of concepts of class in the Yugoslav and post Yugoslav contexts.

All proposals should consider the particular empirical, methodological and/or theoretical contributions that a focus on social class can bring to the study of Yugoslavia and its dissolution.

Some other questions and themes to be addressed at the workshop include (but are not limited to):

· Is there an autochthonous Yugoslav understanding of class? Can a model based on Western European societies (upper, middle, lower classes) be productive in (post) Yugoslav contexts? What does class mean in a “classless” society?

· How does the officially sanctioned understanding of class diverge from lived experience, self-perceptions, in the realm of the everyday?

· How can one differentiate notions of class from concepts like culture (kultura/nekultura), social capital, cosmopolitanism, in the Yugoslav context? Is class/social stratification conceptually useful?

· How can one account for the dynamism of class relations overtime – transformation and/or continuity? (In particular, the creation of new social categories during the growth of consumerism in the 1980s and the nascent free market and economic collapse/sanctions of the 1990s?)

· Class and everyday life – how did the experience of Yugoslavia differ according to social stratification? Was there a Yugoslav “underclass”?

· Does class bear any relation to processes such as state dissolution, war, and democratisation? How do such processes impact upon class?

· Class and ethnicity – ethnicised social stratification?

· (How) do notions of rural/urban differentiation translate to class?

· Class and migration – how have class differences influenced migration patterns such as the gastarbajter phenomenon?

Please send abstracts (max. 500 words) to Rory Archer by the1st of May 2012 along with a short CV/list of publications. Accepted participants will be notified by the 31st of May 31st and draft papers of 6,000-8,000 words need to be submitted by the 15th of October 2012.

Accommodation and board as well as transport to and from Graz will be covered for participants (conditional on the submission of the draft paper by the mid October deadline).


Rory Archer

Sara Bernardi

Florian Bieber

Armina Galijaš

Centre for Southeast European Studies

Karl-Franzens University of Graz

Universitätsstrasse 15/K3

8010 Graz


Tel. +43 316 380 6824