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Mut(e)able Landscapes: Collective Memory, Identity, and the Built Environment of Belgrade

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This thesis argues that physical landscapes, from intentional sites of memory to average public spaces, play a foundational role in the formation and continuation of the official politics of memory that underpins Serbian cultural memory and collective identity. Thus, in

This thesis argues that physical landscapes, from intentional sites of memory to average public spaces, play a foundational role in the formation and continuation of the official politics of memory that underpins Serbian cultural memory and collective identity. Thus, in order to understand the complexities of the Serbian collective identity, the landscapes that underpin such an identity must first be understood. Building off prior findings, the three landscapes to be considered relate to three pivotal moments in Serbian nation-building and identity formation: the end of the Ottoman presence, World War II and Yugoslavia, and the wars of the 1990s. This thesis put surveys of Serbian landscapes, which map both sites of remembrance and sites left to be forgotten in Belgrade, as well as oral histories with local young-adult Serbians in conversation in order to elucidate the extent to which individual conceptions of the past and of the Serbian identity correlate to the official politics of memory in Serbia. Young-adult Serbians have been selected, as their only personal experience with each moment of history under consideration is generational memory and state narratives of the past. Ultimately, this study seeks to expand and verify the themes of remembrance found in Serbia as well as understand how the reconstruction of the past, starting from the end of the Ottoman presence to the 1990s war, has figured into the various nation-building projects in Serbia. Building on Halbwachs and Nora, this study understands culture memory as dependent on objectivized culture, like buildings, which naturally challenges the traditional separation of memory and history. Though it does not represent the full Serbian public, this study demonstrates the limited role the physical landscape has in shaping the understanding of the past held by the Serbians interviewees.

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2021