Translating Memories Speaker Series: prof Mitja Velikonja

Mitja Velikonja, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Poetry after Srebrenica? – A Cultural Reflection on the Yugoslav 1980s

22 February 2022 16.00 (EET)
Tallinn University, Estonia (online)
Please join us on Zoom here

How are we to understand the Yugoslav 1980s today, how are we to write about them, paint them, record or put them into poetry, music or the stage, to sing about them; how are we to value them after the bloody tale of the 1990s? Can we still write poetry on the last Yugoslav decade after what happened in Srebrenica, Vukovar, Ahmići, Sarajevo, and the hundreds other killing fields, or is this too barbaric as well? My presentation analyses the various types of cultural and artistic reflection – i.e. the construction and the perception – upon the 1980s in socialist Yugoslavia as they have developed from its ashes since 1991. As a cultural scientist of post-Yugoslavia – and not as a historian of Yugoslavia –  I will not speak about the historical 1980s but about their contemporary cultural representations; about the artistic construction and deconstruction of that decade; about the way images of the recent past are formed in today’s art and culture. My ambition is not doing historiographical trips from the post-Yugoslav present to the Yugoslav 1980s, but posing culturological questions about how the Yugoslav 1980s are present on the today’s artistic and wider cultural map.
Mitja Velikonja is a Professor for Cultural Studies and head of Center for Cultural and Religious Studies at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Main areas of his research include contemporary Central-European and Balkan political ideologies, subcultures and graffiti culture, collective memory and post-socialist nostalgia. His last monographs are The Chosen Few – Aesthetics and Ideology in Football-Fan Graffiti and Street Art (Doppelhouse Press, 2021), Post-Socialist Political Graffiti in the Balkans and Central Europe (Routledge, 2020, awarded as one of the best achievements of University of Ljubljana in the year 2020, already translated into Serbian and in translation in Slovenian, Macedonian and Albanian), Rock’n’Retro – New Yugoslavism in Contemporary Slovenian Music (Sophia, 2013), Titostalgia – A Study of Nostalgia for Josip Broz (Peace Institute, Ljubljana, 2008), Eurosis – A Critique of the New Eurocentrism (Peace Institute, Ljubljana, 2005) and Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina (TAMU Press, 2003). He is co-author of the book Celestial Yugoslavia: Interaction of Political Mythologies and Popular Culture (2012), and co-editor and co-author of books Post-Yugoslavia – New Cultural and Political Perspectives (2014) and Yugoslavia From A Historical Perspective (2017). For his achievements he received four national and one international award (Erasmus EuroMedia Award by European Society for Education and Communication, 2008). He was a full-time visiting professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow (2002 and 2003), at Columbia University in New York (2009 and 2014), at University of Rijeka (2015), at New York Institute in St. Petersburg (2015 and 2016), at Yale University (2020), Fulbright visiting researcher in Philadelphia (2004/2005), and visiting researcher at The Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (2012) and at the Remarque Institute of the New York University (2018).

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