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"Everybody Loves Tito:" Memory and Political Subjectivity in Post-War Sarajevo
Unformatted Document Text:  LOCKE, Peter private flats. I had recently enjoyed a coffee at the partisan-themed “Tito Café” in the neighborhood of Hrasno (a part of town built during the socialist period). I mentioned all this, and at one point referred in passing to Tito as a “dictator” – a characterization for a “president-for-life” that I had never thought to question. “Tito,” Maja responded emphatically, “was not a dictator.” This, she said, is a mistake most foreigners make. She proceeded methodically with her argument – what is the definition of a dictator, she asked? He oppresses his people; he limits freedom; his rule negatively impacts their well-being and standard of living. But under Tito, she asserted, we had freedom and a good quality of life. We had guaranteed jobs and good, free health care and education. Everyone had a vikendica (a small weekend home in the mountains or on the Adriatic coast of Croatia). Because of the break with Stalin and our non-aligned status, our passports allowed us to work and travel anywhere we wanted – from Western Europe to other non-aligned socialist countries in Africa and the Middle East. Though Yugoslav communism was officially atheist, non-Party members could practice their respective religions openly and as they liked. Mixed marriages were common and people did not discriminate on the basis of faith or “ethnicity.” Maja said that before the outbreak of the war, she did not even know to which ethnicity she belonged, coming, like so many people in the region, from a thoroughly mixed family. Many of the conditions Maja states as historical fact – a high standard of living, tolerance and easy ethnic co-existence (via Tito’s policy of “brotherhood and unity” and methodical repression of nationalist sentiment), freedom of travel and religion – were in reality dreams or ideals that were only ever imperfectly achieved (see, e.g., Ramet 2002). Maja herself, as I thought about it later, would have been an adolescent and later young 7

Authors: Locke, Peter.
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LOCKE, Peter
private flats. I had recently enjoyed a coffee at the partisan-themed “Tito Café” in the
neighborhood of Hrasno (a part of town built during the socialist period). I mentioned all
this, and at one point referred in passing to Tito as a “dictator” – a characterization for a
“president-for-life” that I had never thought to question.
“Tito,” Maja responded emphatically, “was not a dictator.” This, she said, is a
mistake most foreigners make. She proceeded methodically with her argument – what is
the definition of a dictator, she asked? He oppresses his people; he limits freedom; his
rule negatively impacts their well-being and standard of living. But under Tito, she
asserted, we had freedom and a good quality of life. We had guaranteed jobs and good,
free health care and education. Everyone had a vikendica (a small weekend home in the
mountains or on the Adriatic coast of Croatia). Because of the break with Stalin and our
non-aligned status, our passports allowed us to work and travel anywhere we wanted –
from Western Europe to other non-aligned socialist countries in Africa and the Middle
East. Though Yugoslav communism was officially atheist, non-Party members could
practice their respective religions openly and as they liked. Mixed marriages were
common and people did not discriminate on the basis of faith or “ethnicity.” Maja said
that before the outbreak of the war, she did not even know to which ethnicity she
belonged, coming, like so many people in the region, from a thoroughly mixed family.
Many of the conditions Maja states as historical fact – a high standard of living,
tolerance and easy ethnic co-existence (via Tito’s policy of “brotherhood and unity” and
methodical repression of nationalist sentiment), freedom of travel and religion – were in
reality dreams or ideals that were only ever imperfectly achieved (see, e.g., Ramet 2002).
Maja herself, as I thought about it later, would have been an adolescent and later young
7


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