Working Paper

Nonaligned Mobilities and the Post-Yugoslav Political Imaginary

Published 23 October 2020 / By Helena Ratté

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From the First Non-Aligned Conference in Belgrade in 1961 to the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Yugoslavs played a major role in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). This coalition of developing nations sought agency in international affairs to elude the economic, political, and cultural domination of colonial and Cold War superpowers. I examine the Yugoslav case to demonstrate how the official politics of friendship materialized as people, objects, and infrastructures moved across the nonaligned world. Arguing that these mobilities were integral to Yugoslavia’s internal political project and post-war international identity, I examine the interplay of solidarity and self- interest, attending to actors’ genuine aspirations without losing sight of colonial epistemologies that dogged ‘East-South’ collaborations. The simultaneous undoing of Yugoslav socialism and nonalignment in the 1990s produced new, injurious (im)mobilities in Yugoslavia (as elsewhere) that were symbolic of the region’s demotion in global geopolitical hierarchies. Recent attempts to deploy the memory of nonaligned ‘movements’ in museum exhibitions in the Yugoslav successor states inform an anthropology of post-socialist malaise and contribute to the literature examining invocations of the social and ideological forms of the past after the formal decline of state socialism.

Keywords: socialist mobilities, Non-Aligned Movement, Cold War, Yugoslavia, ‘Third World’, politics of solidarity, (post-)socialism, memory, borders, entrapment


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