Land of the in-between : modern architecture and the State in socialist Yugoslavia, 1945-65
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Land of the in-between explores how modern architecture responded to demands for political and ideological representation during the Cold War using socialist Yugoslavia as a case-study. Self-proclaimed as universal and abstract, modernism acquired a variety of specific meanings hidden behind seemingly neutral forms that, however, frequently contained decidedly political dimensions. During the Cold War, Yugoslavia deliberately positioned itself halfway between the Eastern and Western blocs, thus representing an excellent case for a study of shifting political meanings ascribed to architecture at that time. This dissertation follows two lines of investigation: transformations of architectural profession, and changes in the modes of architectural representation of the state. Consequences of two key moments are explored: the rise to power of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1945, and its expulsion from the Soviet bloc in 1948. These two moments correspond to two distinct phases that shaped architecture in socialist Yugoslavia: a period of intense Stalinization immediately after WW II, and a period of gradual liberalization after the country's sudden break-up with the Soviet Union. During the short-lived Stalinist period, the regime subjected Yugoslav culture to the doctrine of Socialist Realism. But after 1948, the state relaxed its iron grip, allowing for a degree of intellectual and artistic freedom. At the same time, Yugoslavia reestablished friendly relations with the West, opening itself to influences of Western culture. The revival of modern architecture that followed was in return instrumental in reinforcing Yugoslavia's new image of a reformed Communist country. Land of the in-between argues that Yugoslavia's political shifts gave rise to a uniquely hybrid architectural culture. It combined Communist ideology with Western aesthetic and technological influences to create a mix that complicated the common black and white picture of the Cold War. Architecture in socialist Yugoslavia thus operated within a complex framework of shifting political and cultural paradigms whose contrasts highlight the meanings that post-World War II modernism assumed on a global scale.