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Belgrade vs. Serbia: Spatial Re-Configurations of Belonging

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This article explores the relationship between the nation, the city, narratives, and belonging in Serbia through an analysis of narratives of a set of 30 interviews with young Belgrade intellectuals aged 23–35. I argue that what appears to be emerging in post-Milosevic Serbia is a new articulation and a new scale of belonging. Most of my informants are mobilising their city identities, moving from a national to an urban perspective. They imaginatively defend their city identity through a discourse that ‘others' its newcomers, i.e. the rural residents. However, the article is critical of their articulated dichotomous rhetoric of ‘Us, the City Cosmopolitans' vs. ‘Them, the Rural Nationalists'. My overall aim is to offer an analysis of the Serbian case, where one sees that the city of Belgrade has become a microcosm and a symbolic expression for modernity, resistance, openness and democracy. However, instead of seeing urbanity as the only locus of modernity, one needs to understand that urbanity does not one-dimensionally lead to the urbanisation of the mind, implying that once you have cities, or live in a city, there is a specific urban, cosmopolitan experience.
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Keywords: City; Intellectuals; National Belonging; Serbia; Urban Identity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-07-01

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