Professor Miranda Jakiša

Curriculum Vitae

Miranda Jakiša was a fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg from October 2013 to March 2014. In 2009, she was appointed Professor of Southern and Eastern Slavic Literatures and Cultures at Humboldt University in Berlin. Prior to that, she was based at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin, where she worked on the project "Enmity in Balkan Literatures". She also worked at the Universities of Tübingen and Constance as a research assistant and a research associate. Miranda Jakiša completed her PhD on Bosnian literature at the University of Tübingen. She studied Slavic studies, politics and English literature in Constance, Glasgow and Sarajevo.

Research project at the Kolleg

The Yugoslav Partisan Narrative - the Epochal Experience of Survival, Voluntary Metalepsis and Nationalized Deconstruction
The partisan narrative, which encompasses successive versions of the historical partisan war fought between 1941 and 1945, is the focus of Miranda Jakiša's project. While this narrative played a role throughout Eastern Europe in the twentieth century, in Yugoslavia it was also hugely popular and even bound up with cultural politics. The stylization of Yugoslav participation in the Narodnooslobodilačka Borba (fight to free the people) as a 'self-liberation' in the foundational myth of the second Yugoslavia was supported by literary and filmic representations of that fight. The project distinguishes between three main (and overlapping) phases of the partisan narrative (1943/44-1957, 1962-1978 and 1985-1990), which are inextricably linked to political and societal developments and also coincide with aesthetic paradigm shifts in European literary and film history (post-war literature, nouvelle vague, post-modernism). During my stay at the Kolleg, I plan to write a contextualizing overview of this narrative, analysing the motifs and narrative strategies of exemplary partisan texts (including films and songs) from five decades of Yugoslav history. This overview is based on the premise that in the period from 1941/42 to 1992, the partisan narrative always changed at points in Yugoslav history when it was used to legitimize a new reality. The literary processing of trauma by veteran-authors in the immediate post-war period, which gave rise to a narrative of the self-empowerment of the 'active victim' in the aftermath of wartime suffering (1), was followed by a phase of metaleptic commitment to the 'partisan spirit' by a new generation, which functioned by way of 'bridges to the present' and ultimately represented the usurpation of the revolutionary impetus by that generation (2). This second phase later gave way to a systematic yet always ambivalent deconstruction of the partisan narrative, which was characterized by ironizing and at times also by nationalizing tendencies (3). The project focuses especially on early partisan narratives from 1943/44 to 1957. These are understood as post-war literature and an expression of the epochal European experience of survival in the twentieth century. In the spirit of the writer and critical intellectual Imre Kertész, after whom the Kolleg is named, the project takes the war experiences described in partisan texts seriously. While these texts - most of which were autobiographically authenticated - have often been retrospectively downgraded as 'political novels', they fulfilled a therapeutic function and contributed to the process of coming to terms with wartime experiences. At the same time, they created a space for a utopian overcoming of reality, although or precisely because the act of bearing witness in them persistently marked the boundary between history and fiction.

Main areas of research

  • Contemporary Slavic literatures

  • Literary and cultural theories

  • Eastern European film (especially films made in Yugoslavia and ist successor states)

  • Post-dramatic theatre

  • Art and politics

Positions and Memberships

  • Member of the executive committee of the German Slavist Association (DSV)

  • Member of the Society for Southeeastern Europe (SOG)

  • Member of the German Society for Eastern European Studies (DGO)

  • Member of the Association for Slavic, East European and Euroasian Studies (ASEEES)