BizHisCol Webinar – Department stores and modernization of retail in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950s-1960s

18/05/2021 16.00 UK

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Presenter: Ivana Mihaela Žimbrek (Central European University)
Chair: Nicholas Wong (Northumbria University)

In my presentation, I would like to discuss a draft of a chapter from my dissertation, which focuses on the activities of two of the largest Yugoslav department store chains—”Na-Ma” from Zagreb and “Beograd” from Belgrade—in the period from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s as the initial phase of the institutionalization of modern retail spaces in Socialist Yugoslavia. I am particularly interested in the discussion and planning activities of the department store chains’ expert actors, their republic, federal as well as transnational spaces of exchange, and the way that category of gender played into their agency and interests. More precisely, I intend to analyze the planning and business activities of these department store chains that took place on the intersection between retail, architectural design and urban planning in order to explore the broader connection and development between modernization of retail and transformations of the urban environment under Yugoslav state socialism. I wish to argue that focusing on the spatial dimension of modern retail and its manifestation in various urban areas is crucial for understanding the particular relationship between retailing as an increasingly important professional sphere in socialist states, the physical construction of old and new urban spaces, as well as the social planning and managing of life in urban areas under state-socialism.