Filip Balunović

CAS SEE Seminars With Guests – Saša Vejzagić 

On Thursday, January 14th at 4 pm CET, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Saša Vejzagić, in dialogue with our fellow Filip Balunović. The talk revolved around The Rise of Business Class and Managerial Elites in Yugoslavia, 1963-1978.

The thesis investigates an emergence of a business world in Yugoslavia in the midst of communists’ peculiar endeavor to develop a socialist society and a workers’ state. Its central focus narrows down on general directors in charge of large industrial (production) enterprises who in the period of liberalizing reforms between the 1960s and 1970s became both independent and powerful enough to attract the interest of the party leaders. The thesis provides the answer to the question of how Yugoslavia shaped its business environment and, more importantly, how the changes of the socio-economic setting allowed general managers to become relevant actors and even considered a homogenous group in both the public and the political discourse.

By delving into economic, ideological, socio-political, and legal domains of Yugoslavia’s life, the thesis identifies the first half of the 1960s as the critical moment for the emancipation of the managerial elite. It explores how the widespread modernization campaign, at the same time, accelerated the expansion of the Yugoslav economic potentials, while reproducing systemic contradictions that created the demand for new forms of company leaders. Since large industrial companies also appeared in this same period, the thesis explores their beginnings and relation of this phenomenon to the appearance of the new generation of managers. In its final part the thesis establishes the definition of the large production enterprise in Yugoslavia and builds a collective profile of its general director. In this sense, the typology of directors and the statistical analysis of their profiles, as well as their short professional histories, are at the heart of the thesis, giving a fresh understanding of their role in the Yugoslav political and business world. 

Saša Vejzagić earned a BA (2008) and MA degree (2011) in History from the Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, and an MA degree in Central European History from the Central European University in Budapest (2013). Since 2015/16 he has been a PhD student at the European University Institute in Florence and will defend his thesis in February or March this year. Vejzagić is an associate of the Centre for Cultural and Historical Research of Socialism in Pula and a doctoral researcher at the project “Microsocialism”. In 2018 he started a project with Vladimir Unkovski-Korica titled “The Second World Does Business? Enterprise in the GDR and Yugoslavia” Vejzagić is interested in economic, business, political, labor, and social history of the 20th century with a focus on Yugoslavia in post World War II period.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Saša Vejzagić:



CAS SEE Seminars with Guests – Milica Popović

On Thursday, December 3rd, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Milica Popović, presented by Filip Balunović. The seminar is entitled „Memories as resistance strategies and the use of Yugonostalgia – the case of the (post)Yugoslav political actors: the last pioneers“.

Embracing the social-constructivist concept of the past, her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to nostalgia, bringing together political science and cultural memory studies. With the aim to answer the main research question on the meaning of Yugonostalgia for politically active last pioneers and its reflection in their politics; her thesis is based on extensive research of the narratives of the generation of the last pioneers (born between 1974 and 1982), in three (post)Yugoslav countries: Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia. Avoiding methodological nationalism (Wimmer and Schiller, 2003) and implementing Constructivist Grounded Theory in data analysis (Charmaz 2004), through political ethnography, in-depth interviews, and participant observation, in 2017 and 2018, Milica Popović interviewed 62 political actors across the political spectrum.

In her research, she argues that Yugonostalgia of the last pioneers primarily serves the purpose of resisting the imposed political and personal discontinuity, becoming a collective and a political phenomenon. Generationally changing the location, it finds itself engendering the political potential, notably for the new left wing movements and political parties. Nostalgia forges generational communities who are transforming into political generations; transforming the memory of the Yugoslav cause, into a memory with a (post)Yugoslav cause (Rigney, 2016).
Instead of discarding nostalgia as apolitical, we need to reinstate it as the political and thus expand our own understanding of the political field in the 21st century. The (post)Yugoslav memory narratives of the last pioneers give us an insight into new and unexplored political imaginaries of the (post)Yugoslav space that could be summarized as “No state, no nation – one space, one identity”.

Milica Popović is a PhD candidate at the Interdisciplinary doctoral programme in Balkan studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, under the mentorship of Professor Mitja Velikonja and at the Doctoral School of Sciences Po Paris, affiliated with CERI (Center for International Studies), under the mentorship of Professor Jacques Rupnik. The title of her thesis is “(Post)Yugoslav memories as resistance strategies – Understanding the political significance of Yugonostalgia”. Milica is currently a CEEPUS Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from University of Belgrade and a Master degree in Political Science from University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas. She is interested in transcultural memory and transgenerational transmission of memory within post-socialist contexts and the influences of memory and nostalgia onto the political identities of political and social elites in (post)Yugoslav countries; as well as representation and discursive uses of nostalgia in the political field. She has been a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris (Introduction to Political Science and Ethics of War). Since 2020, Milica has been a member of the Editorial Board of Balkanologie and a member of the Administrative Board of SFERES – French Association for Russian and East European Studies in Social Sciences. She is also an active member of IMNN – International Media and Nostalgia Network and MSA – Memory Studies Association.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Milica Popović: