Lacking a comprehensive analysis of class, race, and gender, the region’s left continues to inadequately address the violence of the Yugoslav Wars and the continuing reinscription of that violence in the present. This paper outlines the development of racialized and gendered classes in the Yugoslav region in three key stages. Situating Yugoslavia’s socialist modernity along the global axes of capitalist colonial modernity reveals contemporary racial and gender violence not as anomalous products of neoliberalism inherited from the West in the postsocialist period, but rather as the culmination of over a century of colonial epistemological integration in the Yugoslav region.

The first period, which extends from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of World War II, I define as “Southeast Romantic Proto-Capitalism.” During this period we see the nationalization of ethnicity, the production of ethno-nationalist myths as history, and the development of eugenic programs and racial sciences.

The second period begins with the formation of the Socialist Yugoslav state and lasts until the middle of the 1980s and can be called the “Disciplinary-Proletarianization Period.” During the Disciplinary Period, we see the industrialization of national folk subjects according to the logic of colonial modernity, including the repression of women’s sexuality and forms of healing and religious labor performed by women and ethnic minorities. During this period, the secular white male proletarian is heralded as a scientific achievement.

The third period, which we are currently in, began at the end of the 1980s and can be called “Necromantic Neoliberalism.” In the Necromantic period, we see the revival of folklorization as a disavowal of science and historical truth (in line with the colonial denial of history), the racialization of ethnicity/nationality in service of a white male nation, and systematic violence against women and racialized “Others” in a context of debt and international exploitation/speculative investment.

The Development of Coloniality and the Potential of Decolonial Analysis in the Former Yugoslavia

Paper presented at the Dialoguing Between the Posts 2.0 workshop

Backwards scholar, utilitarian artist.
Beograd, Oakland, and Los Angeles