Jovana Babović’s Metropolitan Belgrade: Culture and Class in Interwar Yugoslavia
(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) examines the ways in which middle-class Belgraders negotiated metropolitan modernity in the interwar era.
Defying the historiographical conventions of its field, the book unearths leisure activities that captured the attention of Belgrade urbanites in the 1920s and 1930s. The capital of the newly unified Yugoslavia, Belgrade was gradually integrated into transnational entertainment networks, as jazz, film, and cabaret streamed into the city from abroad.
Belgrade’s middle-class residents consumed foreign popular culture as a symbol of their participation in European metropolitan modernity. The pleasures they derived from entertainment, however, stood at odds with their civic duty of promoting highbrow culture and nurturing the Serbian nation within the Yugoslav state. Ultimately, middle-class Belgraders learned to reconcile their leisure indulgences by defining them as bourgeois refinement. As they endowed foreign entertainment with higher cultural value, they edged out domestic performers and their lower-class patrons from urban life.
tells the story of how the Europeanization of the city’s middle class led to spatial segregation, cultural stratification, and the destruction of the Yugoslav entertainment industry.
is an Assistant Professor of History at SUNY Geneseo and a historian of urban life and popular culture in twentieth-century Eastern Europe.
Vladislav Lilić is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.