Gender and the production of Space in socialist Yugoslavia
Essay in: Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, edited by Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić (New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 2018). Theodossis Issaias and Anna Kats.
In socialist Yugoslavia’s founding narrative, the woman partisan had won her emancipation with the rifle. The activities of the Women’s Antifascist Front (AFŽ) during World War II, which extended from the armed fight to grassroots political organization, advanced feminist causes and solidified women’s position in the creation of the socialist federation. With the transition to civilian life, Yugoslavia’s first postwar constitution of 1946 unequivocally granted Yugoslav women full citizenship, both by guaranteeing voting rights to all citizens regardless of sex and by providing special protection for women’s place in the production process. It also adhered to one of the fundamental tenets of the socialist-Marxist ideology; that is, women’s emancipation depended on the egalitarian distribution of wealth and vice versa. Nevertheless, this promise of equality was more rhetoric than action.Systemic and structural gender disparities persisted, hindering women’s participation in the labor force and advancement in leadership positions. The architectural profession was no exception. The few women architects who ultimately commanded public profiles did so in spite of, not through the dismantling of, both the region’s and the profession’s male-dominated cultures. Therefore, the contributions of women architects— who have so often been omitted from the histories of socialist Yugoslavia’s architecture — are examined here in relation to the successes and failures of this constitutional promise of equality.
Portions of this work appeared in the following magazines and newspapers:
2018. Article in: “Balkan Brut” in Metropolis Magazine, edited by Samuel Medina and the online platform of Metropolis Magazine under the title “The Women who built Yugoslavia”, June 2018.
2018. Article in: Albanian Journal “Arkitektet femra që ndërtuan në Jugosllavi”, 24 July 2018.
2018. Article in: Arts Section of Kathimerini Newspaper in Greece “Εκείνες που Έχτισαν την Γιουγκοσλαβία», 23 August 2018.