Accepted Paper:

Phantom rebellion: recruitment of the dead to align with the state in a Montenegrin village  
Klavs Sedlenieks (Riga Stradins University)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation, based on fieldwork in Montenegro, is a story of a phantom clash which elucidates competing performances through which various groups of citizens forge their alliances with the (phantom) state of their choice

Paper long abstract:

The presentation is based on the fieldwork that I did in Njeguši, a small village in Montenegro. Although the village itself is slowly disappearing as the old people are dying and young ones move out, the phantoms still live and continue to fight. In 1832 Vukolaje Radonjic, a representative of one of the local families and guvernadur (governer) was taken to prison, more than 30 of his relatives were driven from the village and some killed. Houses were burned and levelled. As the official iconography portrayed this event in the light of a just punishment for betrayal and consequently virtually erased Vukolaje from history, several contemporary descendants are trying to revive the memory by investing in restored buildings and churches. However, when they finally decide to hold an official inauguration ceremony of the commemorative centre, they are confronted with the police which is sent in under the pretence of riot prevention. The contemporary Radonjici were carving their moral position in the contemporary Montenegro by means of recruiting the might of a phantom army of Vukolaje Radonjic. For them guvernadur symbolises opposition to the current perceivably corrupt elite and allows to position themselves as defenders of openness, democracy, education and Western values. However, an even more powerful phantom operates on the other side – that of the prince-bishop Petar II Njegoš who once ordered the mentioned arrests and who is undeniably the most famous historic figure in Montenegro. This is then a story of a phantom clash which elucidates competing performances through which various groups of citizens forge their alliances with the (phantom) state of their choice.

Panel P18
Bringing the past to life: narratives, practices and spaces of memory-making