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Tito with his dog Luks
Tito with his dog Luks

My second project is social history of animals, with a particular focus on dogs, in twentieth century Yugoslavia. Scholars of modern European history have explored companion animals in conjunction with an emergence of urban middle class society. I analyze the role that domesticated dogs played in shaping the Yugoslav nation. For instance, I rely on the records of breeders’ and trainers’ organizations to track the creation of the Yugoslav Shepard (šarplaninac) in the 1920s, its use by the domestic army, and its international export in the 1970s. I study municipal ordinances that regulated the keeping of animals in Yugoslav cities, paying special attention to the shifting definitions of ownership, stewardship, and companionship the state ascribed to citizens’ relationships to pets. I also consider the evolution of associations devoted to the prevention of cruelty and, implicitly, to the changing social views of dogfighting, animal testing, and the treatment of strays. Throughout the narrative, I introduce historic canines, such as playwright Čiča Ilija’s beloved toy terrier and Tito’s loyal Shepard Luks, as examples of animals that personified the ideals of the nation to the Yugoslav public. While citizens struggled to find common ground with one another during the twentieth century, I suggest that they came together in lively discussions about dogs.