'It hurts us that our people must work for global capital': The Symbolic Politics of Out-Migration in Socialist Yugoslavia

February 27, 4-5:30 p.m.
Lecture at GHI PRO, 270 Stephens Hall Ulf Brunnbauer (Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies & University of Regensburg)
Sponsors: Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)Institute of European Studies, Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington

Labour migration was a hallmark of the openness of socialist Yugoslavia towards the West. By the early 1970s, more than one million Yugoslav citizens lived abroad, two thirds of them in the FR Germany. This talk argues that the "Gastarbeiter" migration turned into a major ideological and policy problem for the communist regime because the Gastarbeiter embodied structural shortcomings of the Yugoslav economy. Student protesters in 1968, critical film-makers and intellectuals framed out-migration as a consequence of inequality and alienation, and the press frequently reported about policy failures in that area. I will argue that the symbolic politics of out-migration from Yugoslavia highlight the pitfalls of the integration of a socialist country into the capitalist world economy, and more generelly it points to the ambiguous effects of emigration on (semi-)peripheral societies.

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