Layers of Time in the Urban Landscape – Visions of Socialist Urbanity in Mitrovica

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<strong>Layers</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Time</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Urban</strong> <strong>Landscape</strong><br />

<strong>Visions</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong><br />

<strong>Urban</strong>ity <strong>in</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>

LAYERS<br />

OF<br />



IN<br />

THE <br />

URBAN<br />



OF<br />

TIME<br />

IN<br />


Pieter<br />

Troch<br />

Thomas<br />


5<br />

Pieter Troch<br />

32 — 33<br />

Map <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong> and surround<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

34<br />

Thomas Janssens

The Ambiguities <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong><br />

<strong>Visions</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> <strong>Urban</strong>ity <strong>in</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>

Pieter Troch<br />

9<br />

<strong>Urban</strong> Palimpsests<br />

11<br />

<strong>Socialist</strong> Modernity<br />

14<br />

Order<br />

17<br />

Compact<br />

20<br />

Collective<br />

22<br />

Egalitarian<br />

26<br />

Progress<br />

30<br />

Ambiguities <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban landscape: alternative

The Ambiguities <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong><br />

Tradition<br />

Mixture<br />

Intruded<br />

Individual<br />

Segregated<br />

Ru<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

or lost futures?

In a similar fashion, alternative mean<strong>in</strong>gs persistently pierce<br />

through <strong>the</strong> apparent ethno-political division <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban landscape.<br />

Stand<strong>in</strong>g at <strong>the</strong> divisive central bridge, it is not <strong>the</strong> barricades<br />

or flags but <strong>the</strong> typical, socialist hous<strong>in</strong>g blocks and <strong>the</strong><br />

Partisan monument that catch <strong>the</strong> eye. Two huge <strong>in</strong>dustrial ru<strong>in</strong>s<br />

def<strong>in</strong>e <strong>the</strong> edges <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cityscape. In <strong>the</strong> north, an iconic smokestack<br />

towers above <strong>the</strong> valley. A vast dilapidated complex welcomes<br />

visitors that enter <strong>the</strong> city from <strong>the</strong> south. Both zones were<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Trepča m<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, metallurgical, and chemical <strong>in</strong>dustry<br />

enterprise, <strong>the</strong> catalyst beh<strong>in</strong>d <strong>the</strong> radical transformation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> twentieth century.<br />

An <strong>in</strong>sightful study on post-socialist<br />

urban development <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Balkans<br />

is Sonia A. Hirt, Iron Curta<strong>in</strong>s: Gates,<br />

Suburbs and Privatisation <strong>of</strong> Space <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Post-<strong>Socialist</strong> City (Oxford, 2012).<br />

The demise <strong>of</strong> Trepča after <strong>the</strong> collapse <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> Yugoslavia <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> 1990s deprived <strong>the</strong> population <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong> <strong>of</strong> its primary source<br />

<strong>of</strong> socio-economic prosperity and spatial identity. The overwhelm<strong>in</strong>g<br />

majority <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> population is ei<strong>the</strong>r unemployed or precariously<br />

employed. The built heritage <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustrial city is <strong>in</strong> a state <strong>of</strong><br />

decl<strong>in</strong>e and overwritten by post-socialist trends <strong>of</strong> privatisation,<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividualistic and piecemeal urban solutions, <strong>in</strong>formal build<strong>in</strong>g, and<br />

commercialisation. New but apparently empty apartment build<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

<strong>in</strong> various styles sprout up at impossible places, advertisement is<br />

everywhere, and <strong>the</strong>re seems to be a c<strong>of</strong>fee bar for every second<br />

<strong>in</strong>habitant. The result is a curious overlap <strong>of</strong> ‘posts’. The post-conflict<br />

reconstruction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city, characterised by spatial and ethnic<br />

division, <strong>in</strong>tertw<strong>in</strong>es with post-socialist urban transformation and<br />

post-<strong>in</strong>dustrial decl<strong>in</strong>e. The reconstruction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> central area<br />

around <strong>the</strong> bridge over <strong>the</strong> Ibër, <strong>in</strong> that sense, is not only a material<br />

form <strong>of</strong> post-conflict reconstruction, but also a representation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> post-socialist transformation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city centre <strong>in</strong>to pedestrian<br />

streets with small shops, c<strong>of</strong>fee bars, and monuments depict<strong>in</strong>g<br />

figures from national and religious histories.<br />

Regardless <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> superimposition <strong>of</strong> ‘posts’, residents <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Mitrovica</strong> rema<strong>in</strong> strongly attached to <strong>the</strong> socialist city. They<br />

proudly remember its development under <strong>Socialist</strong> Yugoslavia,<br />

economic prosperity, and progressive urban character. There is a<br />

sense <strong>of</strong> nostalgia <strong>in</strong> this attachment to <strong>the</strong> place, but it goes beyond<br />

souvenirs, museums, old m<strong>in</strong>ers, and <strong>the</strong> glorification <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

past aga<strong>in</strong>st an even worse present. The socialist city is so obviously<br />

present <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> entire urban fabric that it makes <strong>the</strong> ongo<strong>in</strong>g<br />

transformations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city seem as cosmetic and <strong>in</strong>effectual as<br />

<strong>the</strong> duplication <strong>of</strong> place names. Although not operat<strong>in</strong>g and dilapidated,<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustrial sites formally still function and both <strong>the</strong><br />


Serbian and Kosovan government lay claim to Trepča as a future<br />

source <strong>of</strong> prosperity. A large part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> population <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong><br />

cont<strong>in</strong>ues to live <strong>in</strong> houses constructed by Trepča. The education,<br />

healthcare, sports, and cultural facilities that are central to <strong>the</strong><br />

urban identity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city are all associated to socialist urbanity.<br />

Underneath <strong>the</strong> post-socialist, post-<strong>in</strong>dustrial, and post-conflict<br />

city, <strong>the</strong> socialist <strong>in</strong>dustrial town persists <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> built environment<br />

and liv<strong>in</strong>g memory.<br />

My th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g on layered divisions <strong>in</strong><br />

divided cities relies on Jon Calame<br />

and Es<strong>the</strong>r Charlesworth, Divided<br />

Cities: Belfast, Beirut, Jerusalem,<br />

Mostar and Nicosia (Philadelphia,<br />

2009); Peter Marcuse, ‘The Layered<br />

City’, <strong>in</strong>: Peter Madson & Richard Plunz<br />

(eds), The <strong>Urban</strong> Lifeworld (London,<br />

2005), 94<strong>–</strong>114; and Kimberly Elman<br />

Zarecor, ‘Infrastructural Th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g: <strong>Urban</strong><br />

Hous<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Former Czechoslovakia<br />

from <strong>the</strong> Stal<strong>in</strong> Era to EU Accession’,<br />

<strong>in</strong>: Edward Murphy & Najib B. Hourani<br />

(eds), The Hous<strong>in</strong>g Question: Tensions,<br />

Cont<strong>in</strong>uities, and Cont<strong>in</strong>gencies <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Modern City (London/New York, 2013),<br />

57<strong>–</strong>78.<br />

This book stems from a broader historical project, <strong>in</strong> which I analyse<br />

<strong>the</strong> transformation <strong>of</strong> urban society <strong>in</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong> under Yugoslav and<br />

Kosovan socialism. My <strong>in</strong>itial idea was to prevent <strong>the</strong> ethnopoliticisation<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city from <strong>in</strong>terfer<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> my historical research.<br />

At first sight, <strong>in</strong>deed, <strong>the</strong> physical and nonphysical barriers <strong>in</strong> present-day<br />

<strong>Mitrovica</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividualistic and <strong>in</strong>formal urban solutions,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> proliferation <strong>of</strong> commerce and consumption are <strong>the</strong> negation<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> socialist urban utopia. <strong>Urban</strong> studies <strong>of</strong>ten apply <strong>the</strong><br />

metaphor <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> palimpsest to evoke <strong>the</strong> material and immaterial<br />

traces <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> past that are still present <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban landscape. I set<br />

out to dig for <strong>the</strong> layer <strong>of</strong> socialist urbanity and remove distortions<br />

caused by superimposed post-conflict and post-socialist transformations.<br />

However, dur<strong>in</strong>g prolonged stays <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> city, I found that a<br />

clear dist<strong>in</strong>ction between temporal layers <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban landscape<br />

actually violates <strong>the</strong> constant <strong>in</strong>tersections across temporal and<br />

spatial l<strong>in</strong>es <strong>of</strong> division that I noticed so clearly <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> built environment<br />

and <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> m<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city’s <strong>in</strong>habitants. The traces <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

socialist transformation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city are more than passive rema<strong>in</strong>s <strong>of</strong><br />

hopelessly outmoded visions <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> future. They cont<strong>in</strong>ue to def<strong>in</strong>e<br />

post-socialist, post-<strong>in</strong>dustrial, and post-conflict configurations <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

city. The purpose <strong>of</strong> this book is to document <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>tersections <strong>of</strong><br />

layered mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban landscape.<br />

<strong>Socialist</strong> Modernity<br />

Tradition<br />

Like every modernist policy, socialist urban plann<strong>in</strong>g created its<br />

own traditional counter image. When <strong>the</strong> Yugoslav Communists<br />

took power <strong>in</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> fall <strong>of</strong> 1944, <strong>the</strong>y encountered a<br />

town that was <strong>the</strong> anti<strong>the</strong>sis <strong>of</strong> socialist urban modernity. To <strong>the</strong><br />

Yugoslav Communists, <strong>the</strong> narrow, w<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g, maze-like character <strong>of</strong><br />


<strong>in</strong>troduced daily garbage collection. Municipal authorities also forbade<br />

<strong>the</strong> common practice <strong>of</strong> hold<strong>in</strong>g livestock <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban area.<br />

These concepts <strong>of</strong> cleanl<strong>in</strong>ess and order <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> public space were<br />

juxtaposed with images <strong>of</strong> dirt<strong>in</strong>ess, lack <strong>of</strong> hygiene, mud, and dust<br />

associated with <strong>the</strong> unregulated Ottoman city and <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>trusion <strong>of</strong><br />

agriculture and peasant lifestyles <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> city.<br />

Massive rural-to-urban migration <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> 1950s<strong>–</strong>70s challenged <strong>the</strong><br />

prospects <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> compact city. The city’s population tripled from<br />

slightly over 16,000 <strong>in</strong> 1953 to nearly 53,000 <strong>in</strong> 1981. Migration from<br />

<strong>the</strong> surround<strong>in</strong>g rural areas grew exponentially. Whereas <strong>the</strong> urban<br />

population amounted to 28.5% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> municipality’s population <strong>in</strong><br />

1948, its share had grown to 52.4% <strong>in</strong> 1981. Essentially, this migration<br />

was a direct outcome <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> clear del<strong>in</strong>eation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban and rural<br />

landscape and <strong>the</strong> prioritisation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city as <strong>the</strong> site <strong>of</strong> socialist<br />

transformation. So-called peasant-workers moved to <strong>the</strong> city <strong>in</strong><br />

search <strong>of</strong> work <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> public sector, pushed by <strong>the</strong> huge overemployment<br />

<strong>in</strong> private agriculture and <strong>the</strong> marked population growth.<br />

They were also attracted by <strong>the</strong> high and stable wages <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> public<br />

sector <strong>in</strong>dustry and various related social benefits (child allowance,<br />

health care, education, hous<strong>in</strong>g).<br />

Regard<strong>in</strong>g illegal house construction<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> Yugoslavia, see<br />

Rory Archer, ‘The Moral Economy <strong>of</strong><br />

Home Construction <strong>in</strong> Late <strong>Socialist</strong><br />

Yugoslavia’, History and Anthropology<br />

(2017), 141<strong>–</strong>62. The above-mentioned<br />

studies <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> Belgrade by Brigitte<br />

Le Normand and Nicole Münnich analyse<br />

wild settlements <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> capital.<br />

<strong>Urban</strong> development could clearly not cope with such a massive<br />

migration. In 1965, <strong>the</strong>re was a demand for over 3,000 house units,<br />

while <strong>the</strong> municipality and Trepça constructed only 300 flats per<br />

year. Due to under-urbanisation and <strong>the</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> access to hous<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> social ownership, urban newcomers resorted to <strong>the</strong> illegal construction<br />

<strong>of</strong> s<strong>in</strong>gle-family houses. Although detached houses were<br />

not <strong>in</strong>compatible with socialist urban plann<strong>in</strong>g—<strong>Mitrovica</strong>’s urban<br />

plan anticipated that 25% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban population would live <strong>in</strong> s<strong>in</strong>gle-family<br />

houses <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban periphery—<strong>the</strong> municipality failed to<br />

develop land for <strong>in</strong>dividual house construction and lost control over<br />

<strong>the</strong> phenomenon. So-called wild house construction arose <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

late 1950s and became massive dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> peak <strong>of</strong> urban migration<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> 1960s. Illegal houses were typically built just outside <strong>the</strong> narrow<br />

urban area, where land had not been nationalised. The houses<br />

were <strong>of</strong> low quality and <strong>of</strong>ten rema<strong>in</strong>ed unf<strong>in</strong>ished. The authorities,<br />

however, rarely <strong>in</strong>tervened and entire wild settlements sprang up <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> city’s peripheral belts.<br />

Ra<strong>the</strong>r than destroy<strong>in</strong>g illegal houses, <strong>the</strong> municipality attempted<br />

to regulate and focus <strong>the</strong> phenomenon by designat<strong>in</strong>g large peripheral<br />

zones for <strong>in</strong>dividual house construction and auction<strong>in</strong>g<br />


plots for s<strong>in</strong>gle-family houses <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with municipal requirements.<br />

The development <strong>of</strong> land for connection to public utilities was<br />

subsidised from a municipal fund, and newly established commercial<br />

banks were authorised to provide credit to private <strong>in</strong>dividuals.<br />

However, because <strong>of</strong> measures by <strong>the</strong> municipal authorities to give<br />

priority to urban residents with no access to adequate hous<strong>in</strong>g<br />

over rural migrants, <strong>the</strong> pressure <strong>of</strong> urban migration from <strong>the</strong> rural<br />

h<strong>in</strong>terland and <strong>the</strong> problem <strong>of</strong> illegal house construction rema<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

acute. As a result, <strong>in</strong>dividual house construction, which was <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

<strong>in</strong>formal, dom<strong>in</strong>ated <strong>the</strong> expansion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city. Between 1965 and<br />

1980, private <strong>in</strong>dividuals built around 10,000 detached houses.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> same time, <strong>the</strong> construction <strong>of</strong> houses <strong>in</strong> social ownership<br />

stalled, ris<strong>in</strong>g from 2,409 to 3,953 house units. Individual hous<strong>in</strong>g<br />

was concentrated <strong>in</strong> Tavnik and Bair, <strong>the</strong> relatively favourable<br />

terra<strong>in</strong> to <strong>the</strong> south and southwest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city centre, ultimately<br />

<strong>in</strong>corporat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> villages <strong>of</strong> Zhabarë and Šipolje. One smaller zone<br />

for <strong>in</strong>dividual house construction was located at <strong>the</strong> back slope <strong>of</strong><br />

Partisan Hill.<br />

The literature on rurbanisation and<br />

urban-rural divisions <strong>in</strong> East European<br />

cities is extensive. The pioneer<strong>in</strong>g<br />

study for Yugoslavia is Andrei Simić,<br />

The Peasant <strong>Urban</strong>ites: A Study <strong>of</strong><br />

Rural-<strong>Urban</strong> Mobility <strong>in</strong> Serbia (New<br />

York, 1973).<br />

The periphery challenged urban order and norms, as captured <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> notion <strong>of</strong> ‘wild settlements’. The <strong>in</strong>formal <strong>in</strong>dividual house construction<br />

and horizontal dispersion <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> periphery was <strong>the</strong> counter<br />

image <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> orderly residential blocks and compact verticality that<br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ated <strong>the</strong> city centre and def<strong>in</strong>ed socialist modernity. The peripheral<br />

areas also rema<strong>in</strong>ed underdeveloped and poorly connected<br />

to public utilities. In <strong>the</strong> early 1970s, <strong>the</strong>re was no real road <strong>in</strong>frastructure,<br />

no spatial plann<strong>in</strong>g, limited access to water supply and<br />

sewers, and no garbage collection <strong>in</strong> Tavnik. As a result, cleanl<strong>in</strong>ess<br />

guidel<strong>in</strong>es never applied to <strong>the</strong> detached house settlements <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

urban periphery. The cont<strong>in</strong>uous and uncontrolled migration from<br />

<strong>the</strong> rural h<strong>in</strong>terland <strong>in</strong>to <strong>the</strong> city’s periphery also led to <strong>the</strong> merger<br />

<strong>of</strong> urban and rural practices, known as rurbanisation. The periphery<br />

did not develop <strong>in</strong>to an area from where <strong>the</strong> urban way <strong>of</strong> liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

would expand <strong>in</strong>to <strong>the</strong> rural h<strong>in</strong>terland but was subject to rural <strong>in</strong>vasions<br />

that seemed to jeopardise <strong>the</strong> socialist transformation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> urban environment. The municipality even abandoned its earlier<br />

pr<strong>in</strong>ciple <strong>of</strong> strict del<strong>in</strong>eation between rural and urban spaces and<br />

lifestyles and allowed residents on <strong>the</strong> urban periphery to hold livestock.<br />

Press and public op<strong>in</strong>ion presented <strong>the</strong> periphery as an area<br />

where urban norms and values were not upheld, which expla<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

<strong>the</strong> cont<strong>in</strong>uous dirt <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> city, <strong>the</strong> persistence <strong>of</strong> conservative (<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g<br />

religious and nationalistic) behaviour, and <strong>the</strong> rise <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>ality<br />

and social pr<strong>of</strong>it<strong>in</strong>g.<br />


ProgressRu<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

For a detailed account <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> material<br />

and economic collapse <strong>of</strong> Trepča<br />

from <strong>the</strong> 1980s onwards, see Michael<br />

Palairet, ‘Trepča, 1965<strong>–</strong>2000.’ Report to<br />

Lessons Learned and Analysis Unit to<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU Pillar <strong>of</strong> UNMIK <strong>in</strong> Kosovo (No<br />

place or date <strong>of</strong> publication).<br />

<strong>Socialist</strong> cities were above all sites <strong>of</strong> production-based progress.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> impetus beh<strong>in</strong>d urban transformation, <strong>in</strong>dustrial production<br />

permeated <strong>the</strong> urban fabric. Trepča’s chemical <strong>in</strong>dustry site still<br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ates <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>, stretch<strong>in</strong>g over a vast<br />

area east <strong>of</strong> Bair Hill. The former headquarters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> enterprise and<br />

<strong>the</strong> lead smelter tower over <strong>the</strong> north. The lead and z<strong>in</strong>c m<strong>in</strong>es at<br />

Stanterg are located some ten kilometres east <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>. Once<br />

<strong>the</strong> spearheads <strong>of</strong> progress, <strong>the</strong>se sites have relapsed <strong>in</strong>to places<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustrial ru<strong>in</strong>ation that symbolise <strong>the</strong> despair <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> de<strong>in</strong>dustrialis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

society. They also suffered badly from destruction, damage,<br />

and armed conflict dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> constant state <strong>of</strong> emergency and<br />

conflict <strong>in</strong> Kosovo <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> 1990s. F<strong>in</strong>ally, <strong>the</strong>y are sources <strong>of</strong> heavy<br />

pollution and health risks due to flawed waste management, limited<br />

oversight, and <strong>in</strong>frastructural failure.<br />

The same patterns <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustrial decay are evident <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> factory settlements<br />

on <strong>the</strong> periphery <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>. The m<strong>in</strong>ers’ settlements <strong>of</strong><br />

Stanterg and Prvi Tunel were labelled peri-urban settlements <strong>in</strong> socialist<br />

urban plann<strong>in</strong>g. They kept strong economic and communal ties<br />

with <strong>the</strong> city but were obviously not organic parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> urban area.<br />

Indicatively, it was allowed to hold livestock <strong>the</strong>re. Most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> residents<br />

were rural migrants from <strong>the</strong> mounta<strong>in</strong>ous Bajgora area to <strong>the</strong><br />

east <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>, and <strong>the</strong>y resided <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> dormitories, barracks, and<br />

small <strong>in</strong>dividual houses. The stalled development <strong>of</strong> both settlements<br />

<strong>in</strong>dicates <strong>the</strong> limited prioritisation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se peri-urban settlements<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir <strong>in</strong>habitants <strong>in</strong> socialist urban management. There was broad<br />

dissatisfaction with <strong>the</strong> perish<strong>in</strong>g hous<strong>in</strong>g fund, which stemmed from<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>terwar and <strong>the</strong> immediate post-war years. Stanterg and Prvi<br />

Tunel received only a small share <strong>of</strong> Trepča’s budget for hous<strong>in</strong>g even<br />

though <strong>the</strong> m<strong>in</strong>es were <strong>the</strong> basis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> production cha<strong>in</strong>. There were<br />

problems with dr<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g water, electricity was weak and irregular, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> food supply was restricted. There was a shortage <strong>of</strong> schools and<br />

medical care. Due to flawed and irregular public transport and poor<br />

road connections, travell<strong>in</strong>g to <strong>Mitrovica</strong> was hazardous, and many <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> m<strong>in</strong>ers seldom made <strong>the</strong> trip.<br />

Today, both settlements visibly suffer from de<strong>in</strong>dustrialisation and<br />

war. Thanks to its relative proximity to <strong>Mitrovica</strong> and <strong>the</strong> construction<br />

<strong>of</strong> rows <strong>of</strong> high-rise residential build<strong>in</strong>gs to replace <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>terwar<br />


arracks <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> late socialist period, Prvi Tunel has reta<strong>in</strong>ed its<br />

socialist urban façade. However, <strong>the</strong> high-rise build<strong>in</strong>gs are <strong>in</strong> a<br />

decay<strong>in</strong>g state, and <strong>the</strong> workers’ house, <strong>the</strong> anticipated centre <strong>of</strong><br />

communal life under socialism, is <strong>in</strong> ru<strong>in</strong>s. Stanterg has shaken <strong>of</strong>f<br />

all traces <strong>of</strong> urbanity. The former centre <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> settlement, which<br />

boasted <strong>the</strong> seats <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> m<strong>in</strong>e management and trade union, a library,<br />

c<strong>in</strong>ema, museum, public canteens, dormitories, and shops,<br />

is now ru<strong>in</strong>ed and abandoned. Internally displaced persons made<br />

it <strong>the</strong>ir shelter. Two high-rise residential build<strong>in</strong>gs from <strong>the</strong> 1980s<br />

were heavily damaged by warfare. The m<strong>in</strong>ers’ colony up <strong>the</strong> hill<br />

has <strong>the</strong> atmosphere <strong>of</strong> a rural mounta<strong>in</strong> community, with small <strong>in</strong>dividual<br />

houses and typical m<strong>in</strong>ers’ houses from <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>terwar period.<br />

In all aspects, <strong>the</strong> city seems far away. In this process <strong>of</strong> gradual<br />

decl<strong>in</strong>e, <strong>the</strong> ethnic balance <strong>in</strong> Stanterg and Prvi Tunel underwent<br />

considerable shifts. In 1961, Stanterg had 1,511 <strong>in</strong>habitants, <strong>of</strong> whom<br />

717 were Serbs, 536 Albanians, and 121 Montenegr<strong>in</strong>s. In 1981, <strong>the</strong><br />

total population rema<strong>in</strong>ed stable at 1,479, but <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> Serbs<br />

and Montenegr<strong>in</strong>s dropped to 196 and 11, while <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong><br />

Albanians <strong>in</strong>creased to 1,239. In Prvi Tunel as well, <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong><br />

Serb residents dropped from 679 to 323 and that <strong>of</strong> Montenegr<strong>in</strong>s<br />

from 378 to 67, while <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> Albanians <strong>in</strong>creased from 313<br />

to 834. Post-war developments have pushed exist<strong>in</strong>g trends to <strong>the</strong><br />

extreme as <strong>the</strong> Serb population <strong>of</strong> Stanterg and Prvi Tunel left and<br />

Albanian migrants from <strong>the</strong> neighbour<strong>in</strong>g areas moved <strong>in</strong>.<br />

Zveçan is located some three kilometres north <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong> along<br />

<strong>the</strong> Ibar, near <strong>the</strong> lead smelter and enterprise headquarters. The<br />

settlement developed <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>terwar period as <strong>the</strong> residential area<br />

for foreign management and eng<strong>in</strong>eers, who lived <strong>in</strong> English, cottage-style<br />

villas on <strong>the</strong> gentle slopes above <strong>the</strong> headquarters and<br />

smelter. Zveçan cont<strong>in</strong>ued to enjoy a privileged position <strong>in</strong> socialist<br />

urban development. The urban plan <strong>of</strong> 1962 envisaged it as a suburb<br />

and constituent part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city. The basic pr<strong>in</strong>ciples <strong>of</strong> socialist<br />

urbanity applied <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> same way <strong>the</strong>y applied to <strong>the</strong> urban centre.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> 1950s, Trepča built villas for eng<strong>in</strong>eers and managers and a<br />

modern school <strong>in</strong> Zveçan. It also built sports facilities and <strong>the</strong> prestigious<br />

Hotel No. 3, where Tito himself used to stay when visit<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>the</strong> region. The new workers’ house was an important venue for <strong>the</strong><br />

entire city for cultural and social events. In addition, Zveçan had<br />

a favourable location thanks to <strong>the</strong> limited exposure to pollution<br />

from <strong>the</strong> smelter, which usually drifted <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> valley <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ibar towards<br />

<strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong>. In many ways, Zveçan was <strong>the</strong> counter<br />

image <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> unplanned sou<strong>the</strong>rn periphery <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city. Both had<br />


Trepça<br />

Trepča<br />

Lead smelter<br />

and general<br />

management<br />

Tunel i parë<br />

Prvi Tunel<br />

Zveçan<br />

Zvečan<br />

Ibër — Ibar<br />

<strong>Mitrovica</strong><br />

Partisan Hill<br />

Sitnica<br />

Ibër — Ibar<br />

Tavnik<br />

Bair<br />

Trepça<br />

Trepča<br />

Chemical <strong>in</strong>dustry<br />

Sitnica<br />

Zhabarë<br />

Žabare<br />

Shipol<br />

Šipolje<br />

Lushta — Ljušta

Trepça<br />

Trepča<br />

M<strong>in</strong>es<br />

Stanterg<br />

Stari Trg<br />

Notation Albanian<br />

Serbian<br />

Ma<strong>in</strong> roads<br />

Railway<br />


Thomas Janssens<br />

36<br />

Comprehensive socialist urbanity<br />

70<br />

Fragmentary transformations<br />

92<br />

The <strong>in</strong>dustrial city I<br />

98<br />

Detached house settlements<br />

108<br />

The <strong>in</strong>dustrial city II<br />

110<br />

Factory settlement I<br />

118<br />

Factory settlement II<br />

124<br />

The <strong>in</strong>dustrial city III<br />

132<br />

Factory settlement III

<strong>Visions</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Socialist</strong> <strong>Urban</strong>ity <strong>in</strong> <strong>Mitrovica</strong><br />

The nor<strong>the</strong>rn part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city<br />

The pre-socialist historical centre and Bair<br />

Trepça’s chemical <strong>in</strong>dustry site<br />

The urban periphery (Tavnik and Partisan Hill)<br />

Trepča’s general management and lead smelter<br />

Zvečan<br />

Tunel i parë<br />

Trepça’s m<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g site<br />













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