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Нови Леви Перспективи
"По-лесно е да си представяш края на света, отколкото края на капитализма." Фредрик Джеймисън
19.11.2013, 19.00 at the fridge & xaspel
Sofia, 8 Madrid. blvd
New Left Perspectives: Lecture by Miloš Jovanović

Miloš Jovanović is a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his MA in History from Central European University in 2008, and his BA in History and International Affairs in 2007 from Lafayette College. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Mary J Luecker Prize, the Marc Bloch Prize, and the Shelby Davis Fellowship. Currently he is conducting doctoral research in Sofia under the auspices of the American Research Center Sofia and the Social Science Research Council. Miloš enjoys cyberpunk, gardening and pictures of cats doing funny things.

On November 19th, 2013, Miloš Jovanović will present parts of his doctoral research on the modernization of Belgrade and Sofia during the long nineteenth century. By examining an earlier, difficult period of transformation, he hopes to open a discussion on the role of urban history in the contemporary context of post-socialist Southeastern Europe.
Today's discourse about the Balkan city operates within a particular stage. Europeanization and modernization are its two primary topics, sometimes seen as parallel, and at other times, conflicting processes. Thus, cities like Belgrade and Sofia are sites of conflict between “urban” and “rural”, “civilization” and “barbarism”. In this dichotomy, criminal behavior, low culture and exploitation (whether it is of gender, labor, or the environment) are seen as local corruptions of functioning, civilized urban order. This imagined, developed city operates as aspectacular commodity itself. Images such as the exciting “world city”, the “ordered center”, and the “unruly slum” mediate the everyday experiences of our own communities. On a stage like this, what critique can urban history offer?

Among other topics, Jovanović will discuss how contemporary Balkan urban culture emerged in the nineteenth century. In the post-Ottoman period, tavern life, consumption, and the production of space all became deeply related to the commodity economy. During the state-socialist period, vulgar-Marxist historians analyzed this process as part of a necessary transition for the region. After 1989, however, cultural histories sought to resurrect “civic” culture, relegating to the sidelines the costs of economic transformation. Neither asked a basic question – what does it mean to analyze urbanization as a step forward? What is the role of women's labor in urban transformation? Finally, should one write “history from below” in the Balkans?
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