Barbara Jelavich Book Prize

2023 Citation Recipient

Jasmina Tumbas

The Barbara Jelavich Book Prize, established in 1995 and sponsored by the Jelavich estate, is awarded annually for a distinguished monograph published on any aspect of Southeast European or Habsburg Studies since 1600, or nineteenth and twentieth- century Ottoman or Russian diplomatic history in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Jasmina Tumbas, SUNY Buffalo
Title: “I am Jugoslovenka!”: Feminist Performance Politics During and After Yugoslav Socialism (Manchester University Press)

“I am Jugoslovenka!”: Feminist Performance Politics During and After Yugoslav Socialism explores feminist cultural practices in Yugoslavia through the prisms of performance studies, art historical analysis, and critical theory to produce a daring, well-researched, theoretically grounded, and beautifully written book. The feminist agenda with a focus on emancipatory cultural praxis is boldly refreshing. The content analysis of discrete cultural happenings—such as performances, exhibitions, specific artwork, or the praxis of arts collectives—brings to life the unique and dynamic arts and performance culture in Yugoslavia from the 1970s to the 1990s. At the same time, strongly grounded in theory, Tumbas’ analysis helps deconstruct monolithic understandings of feminism by analyzing its diverse political and cultural manifestations. Weaving together a wide range of performers, from socialists to traditionalists, from women at the center of society—such as pop star Lepa Brena—to those on its margins—such as Romani legend Esma Redžepova—the book not only offers a new interpretation of the Yugoslav cultural scene but also calls for scholars to reconceptualize categories of feminism and ideas of socialist emancipation. The prize committee was impressed by the original and wide-ranging contribution of “I am Jugoslovenka!” to the interdisciplinary field of Balkan studies and commends the author for opening new avenues for historical research and embracing the methodologies of performance and visual arts studies.