'On Figures of Hospitality in the Notion of Self-Management'
Friday 3.5. 2019, 6pm – 8pm,
in MayDay Rooms,
88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH
In her workshop Tijana Stevanović discusses the international, voluntary Youth Working Actions (YWA) from 1948 in New Belgrade as foundational for establishing the longest surviving self-management experiment in Yugoslavia. At stake is what she calls the ’figures of hospitality’ set against establishing order through means of hostility. Her take on Derrida’s notion of hospitality thus opens a discussion into concrete forms of political organisation, whereby notions of foreignness, enmity or even the self could be traversed.
Respondent: Aino-Marjatta Mäki. Free admission.
Often described not just as pertinent to the economic sphere of work, but surpassing the work/life distinction — self-management can also be considered synonymous with popular self-government. The self in the latter notion is not just the working class, but people (and beyond traditional state institutions) deciding internally, from ‘inside’, on matters concerning them. This openness to reinventing governing aims at collapsing the distinction between public and private realms. Yet, it does so in parallel to rendering representative governing as extraneous, foreign, ‘outside’ of this collective, in language or in law. Derrida proposes that the figure of the foreigner contained in the notion of this ‘extra’, ‘outside’, ‘abroad’ presents a challenge for, and marks the crisis for the definition of the boundary between the two, thus–assumed, distinct entities. What if to self-manage depends on the capacity to question the notion of the ‘self’ incessantly? If this is a praxis of the self in crisis, through what hostile/hospitable conditions is it enacted?
Taking a closer look into the international, voluntary Youth Working Actions (YWA) in 1948 in New Belgrade, which, while taking place outside of society, I argue, were foundational for establishing the longest surviving self-management experiment (four decades of self-management in Yugoslavia, 1950-1989)—the paper discusses what figures of hospitality such self-management in–the–making may assume, and what forms they may take. YWA were initiated to prepare the unhospitable, muddy terrain of former borderlands for the coming egalitarian city, but through cohabiting in these summer camps youth also grappled ‘on the ground’ with difficulties that self-managing society may encounter in practice. Unlike symbolic post-war rebuilding of demolished cities by recollecting bricks (Trümmerfrauen in Germany) this labour is not reciprocal and was not aimed at establishing order. Rather than holding imperative in the figure of Homo Volans, individual parachuting above the earth’s surface, youth’s proximity to the ground, both physically (through manual labour) and metaphorically, questioned the binary relation of domination/submission, and through that socialised practice prepared the immergence of self-management, to be enshrined in Yugoslav law in 1950.
Tijana Stevanović is a researcher in architectural humanities, based at the UCL, Bartlett and the UCA, Canterbury School of Architecture, with the background in architecture and cultural studies. She completed her PhD thesis in 2018 at Newcastle University, titled ‘Incorporating Self-management: Architectural Production in New Belgrade’. It interrogates challenges posed for traditional hierarchies in architectural production during the development of self-management in Yugoslavia, 1950-1989. Tijana previously initiated collaborative projects that are concerned with the limits of representation of labour and care. Her research is published in edited volumes: Architecture and Feminisms(2017), Industries of Architecture(2015), Pedagogies of Disaster(2013), etc.