The Lost Revolution: Yugoslav Women’s Antifascist Front between Myth and Forgetting

Women’s Antifascist Movement Conference in the village of Čukorovac, Serbia, May 1944

Tijana Okić and Andreja Dugandžić | Introduction: A Word from the Editors

The experience of victory and defeat, past and present, both the AFŽ’s and our own, is a reminder that our new and future struggles and fronts, the battles yet to be won, stand open before us and testify to the creation of the possible even where everything seemed impossible. The revolution took place. Let’s start another one!

Chiara Bonfiglioli | AFŽ’s Activists’ Biographies: An Intersectional Reading of Women’s Agency

The richness of this archive allows for an affective connection with the stories of the women who were part of the AFŽ, while being aware that the encounter with their voices – or the voices of those close to them - has much to do with our own selection, interpretation and invention, or, in other words, with our own location.

Ajla Demiragić | The Role and the Position of the People’s (Progressive) Teaching in the Crucial Years for the Construction of a New Socialist Society in Bosnia and Herzegovina

With their enormous enthusiasm and engagement, progressive people’s teachers laid an important cornerstone for the building of a new state. Together with their colleagues, female teachers organized schools across the country and created new educational policies. In their struggle for new schools they not only changed the curricula, but also established completely new relations with their pupils. Rigid classroom hierarchy was abolished, and new learning and work practices were introduced, based on mutual trust and respect.

Danijela Majstorović | The Creation of the New Yugoslav Woman: Emancipatory Elements of Media Discourse from the End of World War II

Homage to the heroism of a woman who fought in the war and flew an aeroplane to Sarajevo, even though she had to “return from the army to work in fields and factories”, is not something that can be found in today’s media. If she is mentioned at all, it is as a pilot of an airline, not a Red Army pilot.

Boriša Mraović | Heroism of Labor: The Anti-Fascist Front of Women and the Socialist Dispositive, 1945-1953

Determined to do the best they can, women created a “new form of heroism”. It was a heroism that was not like a “rank” that could have been awarded to one woman or one man who could carry it like a medal. It was an effort for the community, a collective heroism built on a mass effort of voluntary labor that worked thousands of bodies to exhaustion before it faced the fact that the set goals were unattainable precisely because they were of heroic proportions, because they implied that one could always work more, harder. Only in a mass effort was it possible to produce the super-human, the heroic – as only the heroic was worthy of the heroically fallen heroes.

Tijana Okić | From Revolutionary to Productive Subject: An Alternative History of the Women’s Antifascist Front

The AFŽ demonstrates that although we cannot repeat the past we can learn from it that only through joint political struggle – which is also always a struggle for (but not only for) rights – can we emancipate ourselves and the conditions in which we live. Emancipation can only come from collective effort, which, paraphrasing Bensaïd, must never abandon itself to the idea that revolution is impossible.

Adela Jušić | About the Illustrations

The stories we recount here are stories of an era, of a struggle, of a heroic age. Thus, these illustrations do not only reflect the spirit of the age or depict specific events, they do so in the present moment, from today’s perspective, not only as a historical depiction of the past but as a contemporary political act.

Glossary

Glossary of group acronyms, organizations, and terms.

Authors of the article

was born in Sarajevo in 1986. She read philosophy and sociology and obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy in Sarajevo, where she subsequently worked as an assistant lecturer-instructor. Since 2015 she is enrolled in PhD program in philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. She is one of the editors of the volume The Lost Revolution: AFŽ between Myth and Forgetting (Sarajevo, 2016.). She has published several philosophical texts and translations. Tijana organized and participated in the Plenums after the 2014 riots in Sarajevo. She is a contributing editor of Viewpoint magazine. She translates from several languages, enjoys poetry and fiction. She currently lives between Sarajevo and Pisa.

Andreja Dugandžić lives and works in Sarajevo. Her art devolops through collage, performance, writing and sound. Exploring the mundane and daily domestic life, she is concerned with the wider socio–cultural and gendered dimensions of food, cooking, household labour and its economics. Andreja has performed and exhibited throughout the former Yugoslavia and Europe, and collaborated with many feminist artists and curators. From 2007 to 2009, she was a member of the legendary feminist band STARKE, and in 2013 became part of Black Water and Her Daughter. Her poetry is published in various literary magazines and online portals. At the Association for Culture and Art CRVENA she works on the Online Archive of the antifascist struggle of women of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Yugoslavia (www.afzarhiv.org) . She is also takes part in conceptualization and production of different feminist, art, urban and cultural content and programs.