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Grassroots groups, Milošević or dissident intellectuals? A controversy over the origins and dynamics of the mobilisation of Kosovo Serbs in the 1980s

By Nebojša Vladisavljević


The dominant view about the mobilisation of Kosovo Serbs in the 1980s is that they were little more than passive recipients of the attitudes and actions of high party-state officials, especially Milošević (Milosevic), and dissident intellectuals, who aimed to initiate reassessment of the party’s approach to Yugoslavia’s national question and its policy on Kosovo and Serb–Albanian relations. The paper challenges this view and broader claims of specialists on the former Yugoslavia and communist and non-democratic regimes in general, which lend it credibility. Drawing on previously unavailable sources, the paper argues that various grassroots groups of Kosovo Serbs played a decisive role in the mobilisation of their community, which originated from the post-1966 twist in the politics of inequality and their rapid demographic decline in Kosovo. It shows that the mobilisation of Kosovo Serbs was autonomous through a close look into their protest networks, demands and protest strategies as well as their links with the dissident intellectuals, other confidants and high officials of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Kosovo. The high officials tolerated the mobilisation partly because of the political change that occurred in the first half of the 1980s, partly because of the small scale of mobilisation and partly due to the moderate strategies of the protest groups. Having in mind other episodes of mobilisation in socialist Yugoslavia, such as protests of industrial workers, students and the 1968 and 1981 protests of Kosovo Albanians, it is hardly surprising that changes in political context favourable to a group, rather than a deterioration of its relative position, often lead to the protest of its members - Nebojsa Vladisavljevic

Topics: HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism, JA Political science (General), DR Balkan Peninsula
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1080/0090599042000296113
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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