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Nicole Münnich



“Socialist Planning and Cultural Eigen-Sinn: Social Processes of Negotiating Urban Space in 1960s Belgrade”

In the 1960s, the Yugoslav society underwent a social upheaval. On the one hand, Yugoslavia remained a socialist society in which political authority was hold by a small group which felt back on the use of repression to preserve their power. On the other hand, the political climat in Yugoslavia was slightly open-minded compared to other socialist countries. During the Cold War, Yugoslavia – that propagated its “separate path of socialism” – was in a peculiar position being open to the influences of the two quarreling ideologies. It had to balance between the powers which caused a process of liberalization in order to create a new image of Yugoslavia. This struggle between old and new was reflected – first and foremost – in the capital Belgrade. This Ph.D. project explores the transformation process of Belgrade’s urban society in the 1960s, in order to explore the societal processes within the Yugoslav society in general.

In the 1960s the „socialist city“ of Belgrade appears as a highly stratified contact zone as well as an agglomeration of regional, national and European cultures under the specific conditions of a „closed society“. Belgrade was the centre of a complex transformation process where different concepts of metropolitan life coincided. One the one hand, Belgrade was supposed to be shaped as a representative nucleus of the Yugoslav “new society”. On the other hand, however, several cultural approaches and subcultures – provoked by a temporary liberalization of the system – developed in the society. Therefore, it will be analyzed 1) how the space of the city was developed in order to shape Belgrade as a representative nucleus of the Yugoslav “new society” and moreover as a metropolis of the non-aligned countries; 2) how the city dwellers dealt with the administrative control, which alternative drafts they offered and will discuss the ways this heterogeneous population of Belgrade took possession of the city in order to constitute an urban consciousness and a metropolitan cultural identity against the background of a forced ideological city planning. It deals with the question as to what effects the implementation of a socialist urbanism from above and counter-currents from within the society had on Belgrade’s cityscape.

A city is never coherent and because of that it can’t be completely state-controlled. The project will ask how permeable the net of state power and control was – and will allude to the concept of Eigen-Sinn, which emphasizes not popular resistance but the totality of personal responses to policies. This methodology attempts to move beyond the concept of resistance, which often explicitly or implicitly represents a dichotomy between populace and government that did not always exist. With Eigen-Sinn as an element of cultural behavior contradictions and ambiguities in social interactions can be explained.

For analyzing how the space of the city was developed by different actors the concept of resistance is as of little use as the conception of (urban) space as an inflexible container. Urban space is not only the scenery but is constituted by the arranging of people and social goods. The concept of city as an ongoing process of negotiating helps to analyze which space is produced by which group of actors. Thus, social changes can become increasingly obvious.

Belgrade in the 1960s was not only molded by the socialist government, but more by the various perceptions and lifestyles of this first post-war generation. Within this generation, the urban population with its Western influenced way of life blended with an extraordinary huge number of immigrants from the country whose rural behavior remained to be exceedingly stable. Thus, the socialistic planned urban space was used for purposes other than intended from the socialist government.

The aim of this project is to analyze the interlinked process of spatial negotiation and the cultural Eigen-Sinn to illuminate the multiple societal and cultural changes in Belgrade and in Yugoslavia in the 1960s.

Curriculum Vitae

since 10/2008
Nicole Münnich works as administrative coordinator at the Berlin School for Comparative European History (Berliner Kolleg für Vergleichende Geschichte Europas, BKVGE). She is responsible for financial management, for supporting PhD scholars as well as foreign guest researchers, and for organizing conferences

CORA-IT, Berlin (IT Service Provider):
Responsible for (re-)organizing and documenting internal workflows according to quality standards (EU-certified)

recurrent since 2005
Archival and bibliographical research for PhD project and other projects in Belgrade / Serbia

09/2006 to 12/2006
Visiting fellowship at Columbia University, New York

2005 to 2007
DFG-fellow at the Transatlantic Graduate Research Program Berlin – New York „History and Culture of the Metropolis in the 20th Century“; PhD thesis on „Socialist Planning and Cultural Eigen-Sinn: Social Processes of Negotiating Urban Space in 1960s Belgrade“

Master’s degree in East European History and South Slavic Literature
at the University of Leipzig
Thesis: “Dealing with the Past. The Prison Camp Goli Otok in Yugoslav literature and history”

1995 to 1997
editor in the regional newspaper „Frankenpost“

Abitur (Diesterweg-Gymnasium Plauen)

Publications, Lectures etc.


Münnich, Nicole (forthcoming): Rezension zu: Nataša Mišković, Basare und Boulevards. Belgrad im 19. Jahrhundert. In: H-Soz-u-Kult, forthcoming

Münnich, Nicole (forthcoming): A “Third Way”? Public Space, Experience Realm and Forms of Social Participation in Socialist Belgrade in the 1960s. In T. Bohn & M.-J. Calic (Eds.), Urbanization and City Development in South Eastern Europe from 19th to 21st Century. München 2008.

Münnich, Nicole (2007): Revisionism in Serbia (conference proceedings), 27.10.2007, Berlin. In: H-Soz-u-Kult: hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/tagungsberichte/id=1794

Münnich, Nicole (2006): „Jugoslavische literarische Geschichtskonzeption als Katalysator im gesellschaftlichen Umbruchsprozess. Die Goli Otok-Literatur nach dem Tode Titos“ In: Angela Richter, Barbara Beyer (Hgg.): Literatur und Geschichtskultur im Staatssozialismus: Jugoslavien und Bulgarien. Halle/Saale.

Münnich, Nicole (2005):  „Das Grauen erzählen. Vergangenheitsdeutungen in literarischen und historiographischen Texten am Beispiel des jugoslawischen „Umerziehungslagers“ Goli Otok“ In: Martina Winkler (Hg.): Narrativität in der Geschichtswissenschaft, Leipzig.

Münnich, Nicole: „Titos tabuisiertes „Hawaii“. Zum Stand der Forschung über die jugoslawische Lagerinsel Goli Otok und zur Frage nach Aufarbeitung“ (forthcoming).


Paper presentation: „A socialist capital between awakening and insistence. Public spaces and Eine sozialistische Hauptstadt zwischen Aufbruch und Beharren. Öffentliche Räume und everyday life in 1960s Belgrade“; Südosteuropa-Gesellschaft, Tutzing, October 2008

Paper presentation: „The “Yugoslav Dream” and the Transformation of Belgrade, 1955-1970“ (zusammen mit Brigitte Le Normand); European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC), Lisbon, 26 February – 1 March 2008; self-organized panel: “The Impact of Consumerism on Cities in Modernizing Countries” 

Paper presentation: “Socialist city planning and social reality in Belgrade in the 1960s”
10. Workshop discussions on the building and planning history of the GDR, Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (IRS), Berlin, January 2008

Paper presentation: “Consumer culture in Belgrade: From farmers’ market to supermarket and back.”; Center for contemporary history (ZZF), Potsdam

Chair Main Session: “The Socialist City – Concepts and Realities between Pragmatism and Utopianism”; Eighth International Conference on Urban History; Stockholm University, Sweden

Chair Session: “Appropriations of Public Space“; International Symposium: „Symbolic Constructions of the City”, Center for Metropolitan Studies Berlin, Germany

Paper presentation: “Ambiguous Urban Identity – Belgrade in the Socialist Era”; Urban Life and Culture in Southeastern Europe, 3rd Conference International Association For Southeast European Anthropology, Belgrade, Serbia


“The City in Southeastern Europe. Urbanization an city development in the 19th and 20th century“; History Department, University of Leipzig, spring semester 2009

“The History of Everyday Life under Socialism. Reconstructing Historical Experience in Southeastern Europe“; History Department, University of Leipzig, fall semester 2007/2008

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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