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Yugoslavia is worthless… you can get neither sugar nor kerosene

Food Supply and Political Legitimacy of the New Yugoslav State

Add to calendar 2023-03-02 17:00 2023-03-02 19:00 Europe/Rome Yugoslavia is worthless… you can get neither sugar nor kerosene Sala degli Stemmi Villa Salviati - Castle YYYY-MM-DD


02 March 2023

17:00 - 19:00 CET


Sala degli Stemmi

Villa Salviati - Castle

Organised by

This lecture, as part of the Sociobord Lecture Series, features a conversation with Rok Stergar.

The new states that were established in the autumn of 1918—after the Habsburg Empire fell apart—presented themselves as something new and better. Not only were they supposed to be the embodiment of the national yearnings of formerly oppressed nations in the Habsburg Empire, but they would also be more democratic, the administration would work better, the economy would flourish, and harvests would be abundant. In short, they were to be a decisive break with the imperial past. However, the new nation states often could not deliver on these lofty promises, and, as a result, their legitimacy began to erode rather rapidly. In this context, the inability to quickly improve the food supply played an important role. In the Slovene part of Yugoslavia, the inadequate supply of basic foodstuffs, rationing and increasing prices made the already volatile situation worse, as parts of the population began to grumble, protest, and yearn for the Habsburgs, looking across their northern and western borders. Police and court files, district captains’ reports and various other sources indicate that after the proclamation of independence the mood of the population quickly soured, and that the legitimacy of the new state was often questioned.

Rok Stergar is Associate Professor at the University of Ljubljana and a historian of the Habsburg Empire in the long nineteenth century, the First World War, and of nationalism. He is the author of two books and numerous articles on nationalisms in the Habsburg Empire, the Habsburg military, and Austro-Hungarian soldier experience in the First World War.  He is currently leading the three-year Slovenian Research Agency research grant "Schools and Imperial, National, and Transnational Identifications: Habsburg Empire, Yugoslavia, and Slovenia" and (with Václav Šmidrkal) a three-year bilateral Slovenian and Czech research grant "Nourishing Victory: Food Supply and Post-Imperial Transition in the Czech Lands and Slovenia, 1918-1923". His latest publication is the chapter Endloses Ende, unbestimmter Neuanfang: Die Entstehung des ersten Jugoslawien aus zeitgenössischen Perspektiven in Endpunkte. Und Neuanfänge: Geisteswissenschaftliche Annäherungen an die Dynamik von Zeitläuften, edited by Sašo Jerše and Kristina Lahl (Vienna, Cologne: Böhlau, 2022).

Scientific Organiser(s):

Prof. Laura Lee Downs (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Dominika Gruziel (ERC/EUI Sociobord Senior Fellow)


Rok Stergar (University of Ljubljana)

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