Catherine Baker’s fascinating new book Race and the Yugoslav Region: Postsocialist, Post-Conflict, Postcolonial?(Manchester University Press, 2018) poses a deceptively simple question: what does race have to do with the Yugoslav region? Eastern European studies has often framed the region as unimplicated in global formations of race, while still remarking on the conditional positioning of Eastern Europeans as the “Other” of Europe, “white but not quite.” Baker traces a cultural history of Yugoslavia that purposefully foregrounds race, and embraces the many new questions that such a shifting of frameworks enables. From the non-aligned movement, to the rhetoric of “returning” to Europe, to highly racialized 1990’s dance music, Baker’s new book forces us to reconsider how it was ever possible to claim that race has nothing to do with the Yugoslav region.
Jelena Golubovic is a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University.