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Being European and decolonial: Utopian realism of the Yugoslav nonaligned internationalism


ARIS Code: J6-50187

Project duration: 1. 10. 2023–30. 9. 2026

Project leaderJure Ramšak, PhD

Participating institute at ZRS KoperInstitut for Historical Studies

The project address the ‘global’ Yugoslavia – the only major European member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – as a fascinating conjuncture of political, economic and cultural ideas and realities of the industrialised North and the postcolonial South from the late 1950s to the late 1980s. Through a series of case studies focusing on the activities of Yugoslav agencies and individual projects in political and primarily non-political spheres, we will gain insight into the multidirectional process of circulation of ideas, strategies, knowledge, cultures, practices and values which developed within the NAM at both the macro and micro levels. Through a multidisciplinary historical-anthropological-political examination of the experiences of economists, students, cultural and political thinkers, the project will, on the one hand, outline the imaginary of the non-aligned alliance co-created by these agencies, and on the other hand, trace their lived experience with the Global South along with many of its ambiguities.

Using archival sources of Yugoslav federal and republican institutions and oral histories, we will present the negotiated relationship between the individual components of Yugoslav internationalism and examine its reception by their partners from non-aligned countries. As in practice, this represented a critical test of the declared partnership, especially in terms of development cooperation, studying specific projects in African countries and tracing the experiences of individual agencies on both sides will enable one of the first epistemological insights into the ambitious NAM programme of ‘collective self-reliance’. Equally original are our findings regarding the changing interactions between domestic politics, society and culture on the one hand, and international commitment to non-aligned partners on the other, which we will explore by studying cases of education and cultural exchanges.