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Deadline: "Tito: Perceptions and Interpretations"


The Institute for Recent History of Serbia (Belgrade) supported by the Faculty of Philosophy of University of Belgrade and Centre for European Neighbourhood Studies University of Stirling invites you to the international conference

Tito: Perceptions and Interpretations

The conference will be held in Belgrade, from May 7th until May 9th 2010.

Please, apply for participation as soon as possible and send your abstract until the end of 2009.

Papers from the conference will be published in the Compendium of works titled: Tito: Perceptions and Interpretations

Official languages: Serbian and English

You can find more information below.


Olga Manojlovic Pintar Ph.D, President
Sanja Petrovic Todosijevic M.A. Secretary


Conference overview

Thirty years which passed after death of Josip Broz Tito were probably the most turbulent period in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, in the anyway dramatic 20th century. Unlike the time of the world wars when the conflicts in the Balkans were a reflection of broader European and world military and political conflicts, in the last decades of 20th century Yugoslavia found itself in opposition to the rest of Europe. In the times others were uniting, Yugoslavia broke up. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives, millions were expelled or displaced. However, although the analysis of the history and the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have been preoccupying the academia throughout the world for a number of years, they failed to deliver systematic studies of the complex personality and activities of Josip Broz Tito. The number of works which tried to discover the roots of the break-up of Yugoslavia and its history by analyzing Tito as one of the leading politicians of the Cold War, as well as a symbol around which personal and collective identities had been built up, but also destroyed, is very small.

The conference entitled Josip Broz Tito - Perceptions and Interpretations has the goal of opening numerous questions concerning Tito’s personality and the times influenced by his political activity, but it also wants to propose answers to the questions of his social perception and constant ideological utilization. By establishing the context which determined his work and by reconsidering the consequences of his decisions, the research will not focus only on the personality of Josip Broz Tito, but also on the ideology of Yugoslav socialism and the society which cultivated it. Ranging between glorification and condemnation, the perception of Josip Broz Tito not only kept up, but also constituted the Yugoslav society and the societies which came into being after the break-up of Yugoslavia. The relation of individuals and groups to Tito always created and the trends in the society, the opinions of the elites, historiography… Exactly because of that the conference has as its goal to offer explanations which evolved from new readings of the historical narratives and to encourage research in the field of history of remembrance, studies on nationalism and cultural studies.

The Description and the Goals of the Project

Although he is present in the public discourse and in spate of publicist literature Josip Broz Tito and his heritage are still not enough critically evaluated in scholarly literature and in academic circles. Contemporary humanities dealt only sporadically and on margins with establishing the factography and analyzing Tito as a complex historical phenomenon. Already these statements necessarily awake the researchers’ interest, particularly if one has in mind that through the relation to Josip Broz Tito (be it glorification, ignoring, marginalizing or defaming) political and ideological differences were legitimized, economic decisions were defended and social systems of values were constructed. To be sure, the fact that controversies concerning his personality and symbols increased at almost an exponential rate at the turn of 21st century, is intriguing, as well as the impression that these ideological clashes decreased in the last few years as the crisis of the left became evident and the “danger” of socialism diminished. In that context, even the present, almost jovial and banal idealization of Tito’s personality through the discoveries of details of his personal life, offers a possibility for deeper analysis.

Praised for decades and exalted as the central figure of the Yugoslav state and ideology which was based on promotion of brotherhood and unity and socialist patriotism, Tito was ascribed a number of derogatory characteristics in the years of the break-up of Yugoslavia. He became the man of the Commintern, the Vatican, free-mason, Antichris. His responsibility for the crimes committed at the end of the Second World War, or immediately after it was highly underlined and criticized, as well as his relationship with the republics. Regardless of the varieties of representations of his personality and political activities, in public prevailed undifferentiated opinions, officially imposed as undisputable. The societies which had been made, were mirrored most clearly in such monolithically created symbols. Exactly for that reason, the analysis of the process of identification, or distancing from Tito, of emphasizing or ignoring his activity and importance, seen from today’s perspective, make new explanations possible. In such way the society and its elites become the main object of research. In that context particularly important becomes the analysis of the perceptible conversion of former Titoist intellectuals into Anti-Titoists, opening the question: how much was this U turn caused by the discovery of new historical sources, and how much was it caused by the need to accommodate the new order of remembrance? Did the turn from the Titoist to Anti-Titoist culture of remembrance, from left to right, prove the ripening of (Serbian) social and scholarly intelligentsia, or does it testify to its inconstancy?

Josip Broz Tito is a complex subject, which offer possibility of many levels of analysis: from establishing the factography (which became questionable), to analysis of evolution of explanations, which created just about every political discourse. Therefore, in the process of transferring Tito from the political into the scholarly discourse, it is necessary to evaluate critically numerous explanations, which ranged between the promotion of the “father of the Socialist Yugoslavia” to his total negation. It is also necessary to research the circumstances under which was strengthen empathy within the Yugoslav socialist society (through identification with Tito), as well as those circumstances under which distancing from him served to establish the unbridgeable gap to Yugoslavia and socialism.

The conference Josip Broz Tito – Perceptions and Interpretations has the aim of offering critical appraisals of the changed explanations of Tito’s person and activities – to answer the question: to what extent they had been the result of scholarly ripening process or they had been the result of ideological conversion and establishing of new dominant (this time national) paradigm through which the past was evaluated. Nevertheless, it is not possible to disregard the importance of the change of generational community of remembrance. Namely, the traumatic experiences from 1990s changed the point of view and expectations of young generations (who are naturally more indifferent toward things they didn’t personally experienced), forcing them to take engaged political stand and to act. In the centre of such an engagement naturally emerged the need to define the attitude toward Josip Broz Tito.

The need to open the academic debate imposed itself almost irresistibly. As Todor Kuljić pointed out, “the debate must be differentiated and many-layered, built up on the synthesis of views from different time perspectives (…) which would keep in mind the “imprisonment” of the personality in an epoch, as well as its break through potential.”

Conceived as an incentive to academic debate on various levels of analysis, the conference will encompass two theme circles, which will be further problematized within workshops:
Person, History and Society – Josip Broz Tito was a complex phenomenon which cannot be understood without the context in which he was active and without the analysis of a whole set of circumstances which conditioned him, but also of those which he himself produced. Precisely for that reason it is important to start the discussion about problematic, unknown or suppressed facts and events from life and political activity of Josip Broz Tito, to research and realize the reasons of his decisions and their consequences.

From Titoist to Anti-Titoist Culture of Remembrance – Changed appraisals and production of new evaluation of Tito as a historical personality and of events connected with his Party work, wartime years and his post-war activity as statesman, were the foundations on which political and social realities were built during the last decades of 20th century. Critical appraisal of the changes of the historical paradigm and the invention of new traditions are preconditions for understanding the process of the break-up of Yugoslavia and of building up of the post-Yugoslav societies. By comparing public and private perspectives, official and alternative explanations of Josip Broz Tito and by identifying their points of intersection, or of denial, space will be opened for broader analysis of culture of remembrance in the territory of former Yugoslavia.

Към новина: 01/09/2009 Call for papers: "Tito: Perceptions and Interpretations"

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