Preserving communist industrial heritage by re-reading historical narratives

11:30 AM, Wednesday 31 Aug 2022 (20 minutes)
After the historic split with the Soviet Union in 1948, Yugoslav leaders had to legitimise their shift in ideological terms. A truly anti-Stalinist alternative road began to be paved. This period of retrospection and innovation led to the socialisation of most nationalised industries. In these new conditions, Yugoslavia began its reconstruction and soon achieved a remarkable level of growth and development, a transformation from a poor, rural into a strongly independent, developed industrialised country. Yugoslavia had the highest level of workers’ rights in the world and achieved a very high level of productivity. The fact that Yugoslavia had the highest level of GDP growth in the 1960s after Japan, argues the efficiency of industrial democracy and workers' self-government. As a priority of post-war Yugoslavia, industrialization was a driving force for progressive social transformation, but it also had a strong symbolic meaning. The workers were a foundation of the new state ideology, and the factories were places of its manifestation and realization. The workers' movement was inspired by the national liberation movement, as evidenced by the trend of naming factories after national heroes. The postwar factory was Lefebvre’s space - a social product and political instrument. Derived from the work, moreover from the division of labour, industrial space represents the set of things that inhabit it. It is a functional place, at the same time determined by the reproduction of social relations in production and objectification of the social components. Workers' self-management strategy was the most effectively implemented in the factories, which have received social but also political and ideological dimension. Industrial complexes were a special kind of social, educational, health, and political centres. The disintegration of Yugoslavia led to the collapse of the previous regime and gradual deindustrialization. Today we are faced with the denial of all the achievements of communism. We are silent witnesses to the decline of the tangible and intangible heritage of that period. Young people do not have an objective picture of the recent social and political history of the region, so they cannot identify with the spaces that were the bearers of identity only half a century earlier. They do not know that the city of Zrenjanin was one of the largest industrial centres in Yugoslavia, nor that the furniture factory and the city were named after the national hero Zarko Zrenjanin. The aim of the research is to answer the question of whether re-reading and correct interpretation of historical narratives could contribute to the adequate treatment and preservation of the Yugoslav communist heritage?
University of Novi Sad
associate professor
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