The foundational economy is a matter of everyday routines which depend on a social infrastructure of providential services like health, social care and education and the material networks of pipes and cables that connect every household. This cannot be understood on the assumption that there is a clear divide between a productive private sector and a resource-consuming public sector. The economy is not a system of wealth creation led by the private sector but a system of revenue circulation which is failing to deliver foundational welfare. This is because of underinvestment in systems and over-reliance on distribution of market incomes through employment. There are relatively few good jobs in the high-tech and knowledge intensive sectors; and too many badly paid, precarious jobs in mundane activities.
The book’s argument is for raising the quality and availability of universal basic services (not market income). This renewal depends on four key shifts in the practice of policy which would disrupt established policy agendas: ask citizens about their foundational priorities; extend social influence over business by a kind of licensing of corporate business, while encouraging small and medium enterprise; reinvent taxation to secure foundational revenue and capital investment; and, finally, create hybrid political alliances to drive change because government is not always benign or capable. Radical change does not wait upon alignment of these conditions. It can start tomorrow in the world as it is with local foundational experiments through which can come learning and political mobilisation
The period since 1979 is identified as the period when the historically created foundational economy was comprehensively wrecked by a mixture of public policy and changes in business practices. The UK and Italy are used as two case studies of a process which has proceeded by different routes but arrived at the same destructive destination. The histories of privatisation, of franchising, and of outsourcing in sectors as different as rail transport and personal care are examined for illustrative purposes. The chapter shows how shareholder value priorities and the practices of financial engineering have opened the door to a wide range of opportunistic business practices by private firms that now dominate the foundational economy.
A wide-ranging model for feminist performance politics in art and culture
Tumbas concludes her book by briefly focusing on two more examples, Nasta Rojc’s 1908 colored etching, Žena Spaja Kontinente (Woman Brings Together Continents), and Jasmina Cibic’s performance work, An Atmosphere of Joyful Contemplation (2019), to pay homage to Yugoslav women whose visual and performative politics change understanding of the gendered history of twentieth-century socialism and its relevance today. Tumbas theorizes Jugoslovenka is the bridging force of a multiethnic, transnational, and united socialist Yugoslavia; the embodiment of the interwoven cultural connections between the Habsburg (West) and Ottoman (East) empires in a newly formed, antifascist state; and is a challenge to the patriarchal foundations of socialism, war, and nationalism.
Through the author’s invocation of the figure Jugoslovenka (Yugoslav woman), this book reveals feminist performance politics in art and culture to be central to socialist Yugoslavia and traces that feminist legacy to the contemporary post-socialist era. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945–1992) provides one of the most intriguing examples of women’s emancipatory power during twentieth-century socialism. The most politically West-leaning of all the socialist countries during the Cold War, Yugoslavia became a place where women enjoyed extraordinary legal rights and social mobility, including access to education and labor mobility. The book tells this remarkable story of women’s emancipation during socialism, and also highlights its importance during and after the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. Theorizing the concept of Jugoslovenka as the radical embodiment of Yugoslavia’s antifascist, transnational, and feminist legacies, this book offers analyses of celebrated and lesser-known artists from the 1970s until today, including the now legendary performance artist Marina Abramović, along with stories of female snipers, music legends Lepa Brena and Esma Redžepova, and contemporary feminist artists forced to live in the Yugoslav diaspora during/after the wars. Based on archival work, interviews, and in-depth visual analyses, this book tells the unique story of Yugoslav women’s resistance through the intersection of feminism, socialism, and patriarchy in visual culture. Discussing multiple media, such as war photographs, music videos, samizdat publications, performance and conceptual art, along with traditional paintings and film, the book will serve as an invaluable resource for researchers of women’s cultural work in the region.
The unique position of Yugoslav women during and after socialism
Tumbas introduces key concepts and moments in Yugoslav culture that elucidate the feminist emancipatory performance politics embodied in the figure of Jugoslovenka. Jugoslovenka, or Yugoslav woman, serves as an umbrella term for Tumbas to hold together multiple generations of both self-declared feminists and non-feminists from all of the former republics of Yugoslavia. The women considered did not belong to a cohesive movement or a group adhering to the same set of principles. What set these women apart from feminists in the West, Tumbas argues, was how they constituted a generation of women whose mothers bore the legacy of partisan resistance to fascism and helped build socialist Yugoslavia and establish its progressive laws for women’s rights, many of which they saw diminished over time, due to Yugoslavia’s patriarchal party leadership. Following the bold visual provocation posed by artist Sanja Iveković’s revision of the Yugoslav flag, Nova Zvijezda (New Star), in 1983, in which the artist replaced the signature red socialist star with hair arranged in the triangular shape of a female pubis, Tumbas analyzes Yugoslav socialism and its demise through the lens of feminist visual culture and art. Among others, Želimir Koščević’s Exhibition of Women and Men in 1969, photographs of protestor Dragana Milojević at the March 9 (1991) demonstration against Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade, and the Yugoslav one-hundred-dinar banknote featuring the allegorical image of Jugoslovenka, serve as key points of departure for Tumbas’s theorization of a distinctly Yugoslav feminist visual culture.
Chapter 4 orients itself toward a male-dominated art group that has become one of the most well-known collectives coming out of Yugoslavia in the 1980s: Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art, NSK). Offering a feminist critique and rereading of the collective and specific works, this chapter hones in on the principal role of Eda Čufer and the Scipion Nasice Sisters Theater (SNST, an NSK subgroup) active in the 1980s. While this chapter reveals the woman question to be a “blind spot” in an otherwise radically critical art collective, it also offers a rereading of NSK’s theatre subgroup through the lens of gender by focusing on feminine spirituality as a form of covert resistance against state-mandated nationalism. The chapter also looks in detail at a collaborative work between NSK’s subgroup IRWIN and Marina Abramović, which complicates the gender dynamics operative in the male collective’s work. The chapter ends with an analysis of Laibach’s video “Across the Universe,” in which Tumbas shows how the group heralded the end of Jugoslovenka and the beginning of Germania. She posits that Jugoslovenka remained underground in working with NSK, even though she was a driving force behind the art collective’s work.
Art and feminist performance politics in Yugoslavia
Chapter 1 focuses on the avant-garde art circles in the 1970s and early 1980s in major cities, such as Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubljana. Tumbas singles out specific artworks that put the complicated history of feminist resistance into dialogue with performance and body-centered work by women artists in Yugoslavia. The analysis of women’s performance and conceptual works does not follow a chronological line but is instead conceptualized around multiple points of departure, all tied to embodied and performative practices and enveloped in the figure of Jugoslovenka. These include key feminist moments in the arts; women artists contending with the site of the bed as an exploration of sexism, sexual pleasure, visions of female intimacy in the home, and as a place of emancipation and freedom; critical play with the Yugoslav socialist flag and Tito himself; and the introduction of women’s voices, sounds, and vocalized concerns into an otherwise male-dominated sound and visual scape in the arts. The chapter covers the works of well-known women artists Marina Abramović, Sanja Iveković, Vlasta Delimar, and Katalin Ladik, along with lesser-known examples of feminist resistance in the self-published magazine Maj 75, illustrations in Yugoslavia’s adult magazine Start, and new feminist readings of the contributions by “wives” of well-known male performance artists, such Marinela Koželj and Jasna Tijardović.
Diverse forms of emancipatory resistance and performance strategies
Chapter 5 focuses on understanding how the Yugoslav wars impacted Yugoslav feminism and anti-nationalism in the early 1990s and thereafter, including the emergence of one of the most important women activist groups of the region, Women in Black. The Yugoslav wars were not only waged between different religious and ethnic factions, but against all minorities that defied the newly sanctified identity categories imposed on them. These ideological impositions included ethnic purity, the role of women as mothers serving the nation, a willingness to sacrifice for the national good, a belief in the exceptional status, victimhood, and righteousness of re-established or newly formed nations, and the condoning of violence to protect and advance said nations and their leaders. Women’s bodies were instrumentalized to serve as physical and symbolic battlegrounds upon which military and paramilitary men sadistically sought revenge and humiliated their enemies. Centering on women’s distressed positions as survivors of civil war and on the loss of a homeland, this chapter expands the field of inquiry to include popular images of Yugoslav women during the wars, including beauty contestants and soldiers/snipers, as well as Vesna Pavlović’s photographs of Women in Black’s activism. It ends with case studies of women performance artists, such as Šejla Kamerić, Lala Raščić, Tanja Ostojić, and Selma Selman, whose works touch on the wide-ranging challenges Jugoslovenkas face in the post-Yugoslav, postwar, neoliberal space: increased homophobia; immigration nightmares; diasporic loneliness; heightened racism, especially for Roma women; and a return to Yugoslav legacies of emancipatory strength and antifascist resistance.
Socialist nation, Orientalism, and Yugoslav legacy
Chapter 2 unfolds the complicated position of Orientalism in Yugoslav culture, discussing individual performance works by artist Marina Abramović and singers Lepa Brena and Esma Redžepova. Focusing on their varied relationships to questions of emancipation in Yugoslavia, the analysis of the intersection between feminist emancipatory strategies and Orientalism offers insights into how Yugoslavia’s brands of “multiculturalism” and transnationalism were uniquely tied to the country’s socialist paradigm of an egalitarian society. All three women were “firsts” in their fields, achieving breakthroughs previously unattainable for women in the Yugoslav context. While Abramović changed the history of performance art in the elite echelons of the local and global art world from the late 1970s, Lepa Brena conquered popular culture. She began her career in the small kafanas (bars or restaurants that played live music) of Yugoslavia and by the 1980s was a megastar touring sold-out stadiums in neighboring socialist states; her success was unprecedented and lasting. The case of Redžepova complicates the embodiment of Yugoslavia as she is the most famous Romani woman singer in the world, representing her socialist home worldwide in more than 20,000 concerts, a third of which benefitted humanitarian causes. While Brena and Abramović presented as white East European women making it big beyond the Yugoslav borders, Brena as a pop-folk icon and Abramović as a communist expatriate and acclaimed performance artist, Redžepova embodied a much less white, more exotic, and discriminated-against people in Yugoslavia, namely the Roma population.