Dear H-Nationalism Subscribers,
I would like to make a comment on this book, which was reviewed last year on this network. Štiks wrote an interesting, readable book on the Yugoslav political past, but this has already been done in greater details by numerous authors, the most voluminous book being the _Three Yugoslavias_ by Ramet, not necessarily without any bias. Štiks' writing could be in line with what Vladisavljević (2014) promoted in writing on the dissolution of Yugoslavia: focusing on particular aspects.
However, Štiks' study of citizenship is somewhat short in focusing on the problem of citizenship itself, as a legal construct and as a phenomenon people may experience in different manners. He misses the details on legislation on citizenship throughout the period of 100 years preceding the dissolution of Yugoslavia, not exposing the legal types and legal evolution.
Štiks writes on p. 129: ''In this situation, competing visions of citizenship, I would argue, were one of the crucial factors that pushed the country towards disintegration and conflict.'' Here, he overtly overstates the relative importance of citizenship in political life and particularly in the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
In Tito's Yugoslavia, citizenship regulation followed the degree of centralization. Immediately after the War, when the spirit of AVNOJ was still strong, republican citizenship had greater importance, at least normatively.
After the 1963 Constitution, the peak of centralization, republican citizenship was only symbolic in nature, particularly irrelevant to the citizenry. This feeling of irrelevance continued throughout the next decades, citizens being unaware of its having gained importance with the 1976 law (which cost many dearly, not having gathered that they found themselves in 1991 in a republic, where they did not have citizenship). Štiks neglects to study how the citizenry truly experienced this citizenship change and later crisis.
Namely, nationalist elites’ disputes were reflected in all areas of social life in Tito's Yugoslavia, breeding and combining impacts with such things as language, interpretation of history, et sim. These conflicts came into the open and were exploded by ethnic entrepreneurs in the 1980s over preposterous issues as whether health practitioners of one nationality were hurting member of other. These nationalisms had little to do with citizenship, although they also finally reflected this issue, a minor one in comparison to economic distribution, power distribution, and the legitimacy formula (ideology). On the other hand, by his analysis of citizenship, Štiks bypasses the strategic role of the 1976 federal Citizenship Act, which was a direct symptom of the communist elite accepting that Yugoslavia was ungovernable. Hence, the entire matter of citizenship was devolved to republics. Republics controlled all aspects of attainment and loss of citizenship and federal citizenship was not one side of ‘’bifurcated’’ citizenship, but was exclusively a phenomenon derived from republican citizenship, an epiphenomenon. Consequences would be evident when Yugoslavia dissolved.
The 1976 federal Act was not an inadvertent mistake, but a conscious, willful step of the communist elite towards dissolution. Already in 1971, Krste Crvenskovski, the leader of the Macedonian communists, advocated such solutions at drafting federal constitutional amendments (about the derived, symbolic nature of federal citizenship) and doing away with the federal judiciary (Flere and Klanjšek, 2017). Another crucial aspect of the 1976 act was that the 2 autonomous republics, otherwise at par with other republics, did not get authority over citizenship, whereas Serbia renounced control over its co-ethnics in republics outside Serbia. (This was the compromise Serbian communists champions at the time entered into).
All this was a symptom of a growing awareness of Yugoslavia being ungovernable by the ruling the elite itself. This was due to incessant disputes on the distribution of wealth, i.e. primarily of foreign loans. This ungovernmentability was made even more evident during the 1980s when republics were in unison not to contribute to the federal budget (Flere and Klanjšek, 2017).
Citizenship deserves greater legal detail in analysis, enabling the policy aspect of various solutions to be uncovered. Particular foci in the analysis of citizenship in Yugoslavia’s dissolution should be (1) how citizens experienced civil status during the dissolution in an empirical way (qualitative interviews), and how ‘’the right to permanent (habitual) residence came about as a ‘’right’’, a contested one, particularly in the mass Slovene human rights case (Kogovšek-Šalamon, 2012). Finally, one should mention that numerous difficulties grew out of the fact that the 1976 law was not punctually implemented, for example numerous people were stateless after 1991, because of people being born out of republics and not being recorded as citizens anywhere.
Flere, S. and Klanjšek, R. 2017 Da li je Jugoslavija morala da umre? Belgrade: Dan Graf
Kogovšek-Šalamon, N. 2012 Izbris in (ne)ustavna demokracija. Ljubljana: GV založba.
Ramet, S.P. 2006. The Three Yugoslavias. State-Building and Legitimation, 1918-2005. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center.
Vladisavljević, N. 2014. Does Scholarly Literature on the Breakup of Yugoslavia Travel Well?
67-78, Florian Bieber (ur.) Debating the End of Yugoslavia. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.