The European Year of Cultural Heritage is an opportunity to re-examine what we know in the context of contemporary social discussions. On potentials of cultural heritage from our part of the world, and also its importance in the European context we spoke with Ana Pejović, Coordinator of Association Krokodil.
European cultural heritage represents a diverse, rich, inspirational community of historical artefacts, events, a mosaic representing Europe in all its breadth as a continent containing so many distinctive cultures. As such, it represents an important momentum for future generations and a basis for rethinking and establishing different, dynamic relationships both within a single community and between different communities Europe is comprised of. Cultural heritage offers an opportunity for new narratives and for more modern reading and understanding of cultural history, and its connecting with the modern times.
That would primarily be the heritage of anti-fascism. Even though it is not strictly related to culture, in the age of the second Yugoslavia it was the basis for finding new relations and new narratives in contemplating culture. Its principles of freedom, justice and ethics are an important segment of cultural heritage of this country.
Moreover, there was also the period of modernisation of the Serbian state after the final liberation in 1863, when Serbia was attempting to catch up with the Western states, and when opening towards those cultures also occurred.
Even though it was certainly not the brightest period of Serbian history, the period of Ottoman rule is very interesting and inspirational in the light of Balkan countries which were a part of the Ottoman Empire, but also the wider area of the Caucasus and Asia Minor, where there are many less known but equally interesting cultural similarities and intertwining.
To me personally, the dearest moment is exactly the period of creation of socialist Yugoslavia as a modernisation process that held culture very highly in its priorities. Bordered by language, we belong to the same cultural space about which we unfortunately know less by the day.
Primarily by finding a neutral, contemporary narrative which would be far from nationalist tendencies, but also from ideological pressures. An important role in this should be played by the educational system, which has always been, unfortunately, burdened by political currents of the moment.
I believe amazing initial steps were made in the project of Senjski Rudnik as one of excellent examples of industrial heritage in Serbia. Industrial heritage is on a particularly low level, so I am highlighting this project in hope that the initial plans of creating a city-museum will come to fruition.
The potential some projects of cultural heritage have in trans-cultural cooperation often boils down to mere touristic presenting. A positive example of cooperation through creative industries is e.g. the brand Folkk, using immaterial heritage of Pirot rugs and in general handmade works.
This year we are initiating the project Historians against Revisionism which will be dedicated to a large extent to Yugoslavian heritage.
Ana Pejović (born in 1980 in Prijepolje, Serbia, then SFR Yugoslavia), graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade. From 2002 to 2008 she worked in the publishing house Rende as a proof reader, assistant editor and editor. From 2009 to 2011 she worked in the Belgrade branch of the Croatian publishing house VBZ, as an assistant editor and editor. During the nine years of work in publishing, she edited more than two hundred books, mostly contemporary titles from the region and Europe. She translated several books from English, including “The British Museum is Falling Down” written by David Lodge. In 2009 she co-founded Association Krokodil with Vladimir Arsenijević, where she works as a project manager and chief coordinator. She is actively participating in all undertakings and fields of activity of Association Krokodil – festivals, guest appearances, with a special emphasis on Association Krokodil’s House for writers.