Otto-Behaghel-Str. 10, D-35394 Gießen, Haus D
Doctoral Project – ‘Glory for the Defeated: Memory of Second World War Collaboration, Resistance, and Retribution in Contemporary Serbia’
The period since the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević in 2000 in Serbia is characterized by the drastic changes in hegemonic discourses on the Second World War and its aftermath. The political elites have dedicated enormous efforts to the removal of references to socialist Yugoslavia from the public sphere, rehabilitation of the Partisans’ wartime opponents, and recognition of the groups considered victims of communism. This thesis examines contemporary state-sanctioned memory politics in Serbia that concerns the issues of collaboration and resistance, and the end of the war observed through the lens of executions, trials, and repression, rather than the liberation. These efforts represent the result of the very strong anti-communist consensus and the marginal opposition. At the same time, the legacies of the wars of the 1990s were not seriously tackled. The Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, more commonly referred to as the Chetnik movement, constitutes the central theme of Serbia’s memory politics based on the parallel revision of socialist Yugoslavia and the Second World War as its main legitimacy source. Because of their centrality and the lack of scholarly work tackling them, the Chetniks stand in the focus of this research that explores the processes of their construction as both a national antifascist movement equal to the Partisans and victims of communism and the parallel denial and justification of their collaboration and mass atrocities. The multifaceted approach of this thesis combines a diachronic perspective that illuminates the continuities and ruptures of historical narratives, actors, and practices, with the in-depth analysis of the contemporary context, rooted in ethnographic fieldwork and paying close attention to multiple levels of memory work and their interactions.