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Yugoslav symbols during a carnival in Ptuj, Slovenia, in 2013
Yugoslav flag on a street in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2009

Yugo-nostalgia (Slovene, Macedonian, and Serbo-Croatian: jugonostalgija, југоносталгија) is an emotional longing for the former country of Yugoslavia which is experienced by some people in its successor countries: the present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Slovenia. It is a political and cultural phenomenon that includes nostalgia for a time past when the splintered states were a part of one country, grief over the war that tore it apart, and a desire to again unite. Self-described Yugo-nostalgics may express grief at the failure of brotherly love, unity, and coexistence, and distress at division and nationalism, or they may express that their quality of life was better in Yugoslavia.

While its anthropological and sociological aspects have not been extensively studied, it can also be used negatively and ethnocentrically to denigrate someone usually of the same ethnic background who expresses sympathy or statement of support for any aspect of Yugoslavia, instead of the prevailing post-Yugoslav successor state they belong to.[1]

Present cultural and economic manifestations of Yugo-nostalgia include music groups with Yugoslav or Titoist retro iconography, art works, films, theater performances, and many organized, themed tours of the main cities of the former Yugoslav republics. The notion of Yugo-nostalgia should not be confused with Yugoslavism, which is the ideology behind the unity of South Slavic nations. The concepts have some overlap but Yugo-nostalgia celebrates the pre-1991 period whereas Yugoslavism and Yugoslav reunification (as a branch of pan-Slavism) are an ongoing mindset just as likely to appeal to persons born after the breakup of Yugoslavia that feel their national interests may be best served by unification.

According to a Gallup poll from 2017, 81% of Serbs think that the breakup of Yugoslavia harmed their country, while 77% of Bosnians and Herzegovinians, 65% of Montenegrins, and 61% of Macedonians agree. Only 4% of Serbs think that the break-up of Yugoslavia was beneficial for their country, while just 6% of Bosniaks and 15% of Montenegrins feel positive about the split. In Croatia, 55% of respondents saw the break-up as beneficial and just 23% as harmful. In Slovenia, 41% see the break-up as beneficial while 45% think it was harmful. The highest number of respondents who welcomed the break-up of Yugoslavia were in Kosovo which declared independence in 2008, where 75% said the split was beneficial and only 10% regretted it.[2]

Positive sense[edit]

T-shirts on sale in Tito's birthplace of Kumrovec, Croatia, 2012
Tito memorabilia in an outdoor market in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2009

In its positive sense, Yugo-nostalgia refers to a nostalgic emotional attachment to both subjective and objectively desirable aspects of the SFR Yugoslavia. These are described as one or more of: economic security, sense of solidarity, socialist ideology, multiculturalism, internationalism and non-alignment, history, customs and traditions, and a more rewarding way of life.[3] As Halligan argues, such nostalgia effectively "reclaims" pre-1989 cultural artefacts, even propaganda films. Examples include consumer goods and brands.[4]

These positive facets, however, are opposed to the perceived faults of the successor countries, many of which are still burdened by the consequences of the Yugoslav wars and are in various stages of economic and political transition. The faults are variously identified as parochialism, jingoism, corruption in politics and business, the disappearance of the social safety net, economic hardship, income inequities, and higher crime rates, as well as a general disarray in administrative and other state institutions.[1]

Negative sense[edit]

In the negative sense, the epithet has been used by the supporters of the new post-dissolution regimes to portray their critics as anachronistic, unrealistic, unpatriotic, and potential traitors. In particular, during and after the Yugoslav wars, the adjective has been used by state officials and media of some successor countries to deflect criticism and discredit certain avenues of political debate. In fact, it is likely that the term Yugo-nostalgic was originally coined precisely for this purpose, appearing as a politically motivated pejorative label in government-controlled media, for example in Croatia, very soon after the breakup of the SFRY.[5]

According to Dubravka Ugrešić the term Yugo-nostalgic is used to discredit a person as a public enemy and a "traitor".[6][7]

Yugoslavism after Yugoslavia[edit]

Tito impersonator in Skopje, Macedonia, in 2018

After the initial breakup of Yugoslavia at the beginning of the 1990s, Montenegro and Serbia continued a state union as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from April 1992 to February 2003, then simply as Serbia and Montenegro until its own dissolution in June 2006. The number of self-declared Yugoslavs (in the ethnic sense) in the region reached an all-time low after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The former country's lingua franca, Serbo-Croatian, is no longer the official language of any of the former state's constituent republics. There are few works published about the language, and it no longer has a standardizing body. The .yu Internet domain name, which was popular among Yugo-nostalgic websites, was phased out in 2010.

However, by the start of the 2010s an increasing number of Slovenes were experiencing Yugo-nostalgia.[8] In Subotica, Vojvodina (the northern province of Serbia), one man set up Yugoland, a theme park dedicated to Tito and Yugoslavia.[9][10] People from all over the former Yugoslavia travel great distances to celebrate the legacy of the late country.[11] On Yugoslavia's Youth Day, a day traditionally known as Tito's birthday, popular gathering places for Yugo-nostalgics include Kumrovec, the small village in Croatian Zagorje where Tito was born, and his resting place at the House of Flowers. These sites attract several thousand visitors each year.[12][13]

In Croatia, the "Alliance of Yugoslavs" (Savez Jugoslavena) was established in 2010 in Zagreb, an association aiming to unite the Yugoslavs of Croatia, regardless of religion, gender, political or other views.[14] Its main goal is the official recognition of the Yugoslav nation in every Yugoslav successor state: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.[15]

Another organization advocating Yugoslavism is the "Our Yugoslavia" association (Udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija") founded on 30 July 2009,[16] seated in Pula,[17] which is an officially registered organization in Croatia.[18] The association has most members in the towns of Rijeka, Zagreb, and Pula.[19] Its main aim is the stabilisation of relations among the Yugoslav successor states. It is also active in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, its official registration as an association was denied by the Bosnian state authorities.[18]

The probably best-known Yugoslavist organization in Montenegro is the "Consulate-general of the SFRY" with its headquarters in the coastal town of Tivat. Prior to the population census of 2011, Marko Perković, the president of this organization called on the Yugoslavs of Montenegro to freely declare their Yugoslav identity on the upcoming census.[20]

Yugo-nostalgia retains a stronghold among former Yugoslav populations who emigrated the country before its breakup, most prominently in the United States, Canada, and Australia. They have been described as 'de-patriated': "scattered all over the world, without a homeland" or "a hope of returning home someday".[21]

Yugoslav reunification[edit]

Map of SFR Yugoslavia

Yugoslav reunification, the idea of reunifying some or all of the former republics, has grassroots appeal across the former territory. However, its proponents are resigned to the notion that such a state is not likely to come into fruition since the successor regimes have firmly cemented their commitment to an independent existence, having established their institutions and chosen their respective directions.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lindstrom, Nicole. "Yugonostalgia: Restorative and Reflective Nostalgia in Former Yugoslavia" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Many in Balkans Still See More Harm From Yugoslavia Breakup". Gallup. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  3. ^ Brenda Luthar and Marusa Puznik, Remembering Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia. Washington, DC: New Academia Publishing, 2010
  4. ^ Velikonja, Mitja (2009). "Lost in Transition. Nostalgia for Socialism in Post-socialist Countries". East European Politics and Societies. 23 (04): 535–551. ISSN 0888-3254.
  5. ^ Pauker, Iva. "Reconciliation and Popular Culture: A Promising Development in Former Yugoslavia?" (PDF). RMIT University. Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 September 2008.
  6. ^ Ugrešić, Dubravka (1998). The Culture of Lies: Antipolitical Essays. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 231. ISBN 0-271-01847-X.
  7. ^ Müller, Jan-Werner (2002). Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past. Cambridge University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-521-00070-X.
  8. ^ Telegraph (29 December 2007). "Many in Slovenia yearn for old Yugoslavia". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  9. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "EuroNews - Europeans - Yugo-nostalgia not what it used to be". YouTube.
  10. ^ BBC (10 May 2004). "Nostalgic Yugoslav re-creates land of Tito". BBC News. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  11. ^ BBC (23 May 2008). "Ex-Yugoslavs pine for unity and dignity". BBC News. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Several Thousand Admirers of Tito Celebrate Day of Youth in Kumrovec". Total Croatia News. 21 May 2022. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Zimski vrt s prostorima za rad i odmor Josipa Broza Tita posjećuju brojni gosti, evo što se nalazi u 'Kući cvijeća' i kada je sagrađen mauzolej" [Many guests visit Josip Broz Tito's winter garden with work and rest areas, here is what is in the 'House of Flowers' and when the mausoleum was built]. Slobodna Dalmacija (in Serbo-Croatian). 14 November 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  14. ^ U Zagrebu osnovan Savez Jugoslavena Archived 2012-08-21 at the Wayback Machine (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. Portal Jutarnji.hr; 23 March 2010
  15. ^ U Zagrebu osnovan Savez Jugoslavena: Imamo pravo na očuvanje baštine Jugoslavije (in Croatian). Index.hr. L.J.; 23 March 2010
  16. ^ Osnovano udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija" u Puli (in Serbian). Radio Television of Vojvodina. Tanjug; 30 July 2009
  17. ^ Udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija" osniva Klubove Jugoslavena Archived 2012-04-01 at the Wayback Machine (in Croatian). Dubrovački vjesnik. Silvana Fable; 25 July 2010
  18. ^ a b Yugoslavs in the twenty-first century: ‘erased’ people openDemocracy.net. Anes Makul and Heather McRobie; 17 February 2011
  19. ^ "Naša Jugoslavija" širi se Hrvatskom (in Serbian). Vesti online. Novi list; 27 July 2010
  20. ^ Perković pozvao Crnogorce da se izjasne i kao Jugosloveni Archived 5 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian). Srbijanet. 03-03-2011
  21. ^ Pogačar, Martin (2016). Media Archaeologies, Micro-Archives and Storytelling. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 93. ISBN 9781137525802. OCLC 1003786345.
  22. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (January 30, 2008). "Oh, Yugoslavia! How They Long for Your Firm Embrace". The New York Times. Retrieved March 16, 2015.


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