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The politics of time implicitly developed in post-Yugoslav prose will be taken as a starting point for this research. Scholarship has so far focused on topics of exile, melancholia, space, identity (gender, ethnicity, class) and commodity culture in the works of post-Yugoslav writers. However, the problems of time, modernity and their relation to the transnational imagination in post-Yugoslav prose have only been implied in most of these accounts, and not explicated to the extent of a salient theoretical topic. The aim of the proposed project is to elucidate the politics of time and its role in the constitution of transnationality in the works of post-Yugoslav writers.

The post-Yugoslav condition is a complex concept that has been studied from the perspective of various disciplines thus far. The complicity of post-Yugoslav prose with the historical, social, cultural, economic and political aspects of post-Yugoslav conditions puts traditional notions of national literature and national philology under scrutiny. The post-Yugoslav condition is all but easily described within a postcolonial explanatory framework that draws on the relationship between the West and Yugoslavia, the part of east-central Europe that could not be assimilated to orientalism.
 

The project is focused on the construction of fictional and historical time in post-Yugoslav prose. The construction of temporality is related to the literary, aesthetic, cultural and geopolitical construction of the Balkan and post-Yugoslav conditions. The notion of “post-Yugoslav” usually refers to the experience of fragmentation of previously common civic, cultural and ethnic space; to the untranslatability of cultural, social and political experience between newly emerged nation-states; and to the exiled life of writers who (permanently or temporarily) left their homelands. By proposing usage of the term “post-Yugoslav” instead of national labels, the temporal experience of transnationality in post-Yugoslav literature will be explored.
 

The politics of time implicitly developed in post-Yugoslav prose will be taken as a starting point for this research. Scholarship has so far focused on topics of exile, melancholia, space, identity (gender, ethnicity, class) and commodity culture in the works of post-Yugoslav writers. However, the problems of time, modernity and their relation to the transnational imagination in post-Yugoslav prose have only been implied in most of these accounts, and not explicated to the extent of a salient theoretical topic. The aim of the proposed project is to elucidate the politics of time and its role in the constitution of transnationality in the works of post-Yugoslav writers.
 

The aim of the project is to reconsider the dividing line between the past and the present, the territories of homeland and host-land, between the indigenous and foreigners. The politics of time implicitly developed in post-Yugoslav prose will be taken as a starting point in this compositional and relational approach to literature and culture

General Objective 1:
How is time related to subject and identity formation and the constitution of memory?
 

Four specific objectives are related to the first question:
 

1. Post-Yugoslav prose between narration and fabulation
 

The concept of fabulation will be presented in opposition to the concept of narration. The concept of fabulation has its roots in the philosophies of Henry Bergson and Deleuze. Fabulation will be proposed as another conceptual framework for the politics of memory. The notion of fabulation will be the starting point for replacing the distinction between fiction and non-fiction with the unified notion of prose. An attempt will then be made to relate these notions to narrative theory.
 

2. Memory, time, fabulation

This specific objective establishes an interpretative framework for post-Yugoslav prose. Ricoeur’s notion of narration, as it is related to time, will be presented, along with Deleuze’s notion of fabulation derived from the third synthesis in which time is conceptualized as series. An attempt will be made, based on these notions, to develop a concept of exogenous return in post-Yugoslav prose. Exogenous return is opposed to its endogenous counterpart, which is modelled according to a cyclical conception of time. Ricoeur and Deleuze’s notions of time are important because Ricoeur replaces eternity with narratively-structured ordinary time and Deleuze rejects the cyclical time of endogenous return. An attempt will be made to find links with post-deconstructive notions of time (M. Hägglund) and the notion of time developed in speculative realism (R. Brassier, Q. Meillassoux).
 

3. Critique of cultural amnesia and commodification of memory in post-Yugoslav prose

This objective develops a critique of cultural strategies of forgetting and repression. It will be shown how the impulse to forget is connected to the musealization of the past. However, in post-Yugoslav prose, the “amnesiamania” of young Balkan democracies and emerging markets is contrasted with mnemonism, an urge to remember everything. Cultural amnesia (aptly termed by Ugrešić as “the confiscation of memory”) and mnemonism (“Yugonostalgia”) are grounds for an endogenous return. This objective will be approached from the perspectives of psychoanalysis, memory studies and sociology of literature.
 

4. Remembering the future

References to time in modern novels will be explored and outlined. It will be shown how the modernist project reshaped and reconceptualized post-Yugoslav prose. This specific objective is considered a connection between General Objective 1 and General Objective 2.

General Objective 2:

To the question of General Objective 2, two specific objectives are related:
 

1. Enlightenment, modernity and the Balkans

This objective will present the post- and neo-colonial relationship between Europe and the Balkans. The latter was already considered to be a child in need of guidance and supervision, and as an old man has forgotten his past but is nevertheless haunted by it. However, the European project of the Enlightenment is based on the sovereign notion of adulthood. Anyone who is unable to attain adulthood requires governance. This understanding will be defined as the paternal model of community.
 

2. Representing the transnational community

The problem of time will be restated and analysed in terms of the opposition between youth and old age, between father and son and between mother and daughter. A hypothesis of a maternal model of inheritance will be introduced. It will be argued that it is by this maternal model that an alternative concept of community is developed, which is independent of the paternal model of governance. Finally, another model of tradition that is not based on repeating the same patterns, but rather on ongoing transformation, will be presented.

Research Project supported by the Croatian Science Foundation

 

Duration:  24 months

Host Institution:

Department of Croatian Language and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

University of Rijeka

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