Gender, Literature, and Cultural Memory in the Post-Yugoslavian Space

Reader, coming out in the season autumn / winter 2009

Literature and the literary canon in particular play an essential role in ethno-national memory policy, which we have (had) the opportunity to observe during the (post) war period in the area of former Yugoslavia. This is also why the exclusion of women from the canon simultaneously brings with it the erasure of their emancipatory - creative as well as public - action from the memory politics itself, on the one hand, and from ethno-national cultures, on the other. In order to explore this erased memory and the creativity of women writers beyond ethnic, Lilliputian borders, new paths for approaching literature, literary theory, and critique must be formed under the patronage of women. These new and newly discovered paths manage to engender a new wave of emancipatory politics in relation to female authorship and intervene in allying the culture of reading and translating within the post-Yugoslavian context. The reader Gender, Literature, and Cultural Memory in the Post-Yugoslavian Space, which was conceived over the last couple of years on the basis of a symposium of the same name within the framework of the 12th City of Women festival, is the result of an allying intervention of this sort. Woman writers, theoreticians and reader authors have re(formulated) their premises and questions related to the so called ‘women’s writing’ as well as to the issue of establishing confrontational strategies towards dominant models of literary canonization, as determined by ethno-national politics and legitimate patriarchal cultural models in literary theory, critique, and production. Their authorial contributions tackle the dominant politics of socially and culturally established gender identities in post-Yugoslavian literary production, on the one hand, and models of literary critique, on the other. These authors are committed to placing the (re)production of literary discourse which exceeds national or territorial borders at the very centre of their thought and action. And this specific commitment is especially evident when it comes to (post)war ‘women’s writing’, which demands a different kind of literary theory to emerge and a new literary cultural space to be created. Not only do the contributions offer an impetus for the process of the de-patriarchalization and de-ethnification of the literary canon and cultural memory, but they also open a space for future literary production and for the creation of new interdisciplinary knowledge. The very knowledge which springs out of non-domesticated women’s discourses and new practices of speech, writing, and – last but not least – life itself.

The reader was edited by the literary and feminist theoreticians and authors Katja Kobolt and Jelena Petrović. In cooperation with Tanja Velagić, editor of the magazine Borec and translator, the following individuals have contributed their texts: poet Maruša Krese, anthropologist Svetlana Slapšak, ethnologist Renata Jambrešić Kirin, writer and poet Šejla Šehbović, literary comparatist Ajla Demiragić, literary and cultural theoretician Damir Arsenijević, poet and literary theoretician Dubravka Đurić, anthropologist Lada Stevanović, and writer, translator, and author Suzana Tratnik.

The journal was created in collaboration between the City of Women Association and the ZAK Association for Historical, Anthropological and Literary Studies.