With the breaking up of Yugoslavia, the wars of the 1990s, and the formation of new states, collective history has fallen apart. Different versions of history textbooks started proliferating in the same geographical area once united under socialism. The ongoing revisions of historic curricula show us how historical narratives are powerful tools in engineering collective (national) identities and maintaining power positions in the new liberal-capitalist order. These revisionist histories, now designed from national perspectives (Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Kosovar-Albanian), are not only different from the previous Yugoslav version, but also from each other, in some sense prolonging the situation of conflict or inciting new ones. The installation opens a space for thinking about new positions from which other narratives beyond national and identitarian perspectives could be told.
Disputed Histories is a growing library of history textbooks from the former Yugoslavian territories. It presents lesser-known historical narratives from across neighboring states. Ramujkić initiated the library in 2006, and today it includes over three hundred different history textbooks. The installation is often accompanied by workshops where different textbooks in the library are compared and, through collaborative, transnational work, lead to the production of zines. In the workshops, everyone is considered an expert on historical matters and is invited to build new, common, nonviolent narratives.
Vahida Ramujkić (1973) was born in Belgrade and lives in Belgrade.