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Ritual Aspects of the Youth Day Celebration in Yugoslavia

Jasna Žmak


The paper focuses on the ritual aspects of the rallies (called “slet”) held during the Youth Day celebrations in Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1988. The author is applying Erika Fischer-Lichte’s model, which defines the ritual aspects of the Olympic Games, to the phenomenon of “slet”, acknowledging the similarities and differences between these two events. Relying on previous historical interpretations of the “slet” phenomenon (Jakovljević; Jakovina), the article analyses the ways in which ideology shaped these events, stressing its deliberate production of private and collective bodies, as well as comparing the Youth Day celebrations in Yugoslavia with similar sporting events in other political regimes. Following Susan Brownell’s thesis, the author defines the participants’ sincere belief in the project as the constitutive factor of “slet” rituality. In this respect, and with reference to Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner’s analysis of rituals, “slets” are defined as a predominantly liminoid phenomenon, which further problematises their political nature, especially concerning their relations to the dominant collectivist ideology in the Yugoslav state.


slet; rally; ritual; relay race; social choreography; Youth Day, Olympic Games.

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Apparatus. ISSN 2365-7758