NMG@PRAKTIKA: Who Needs the Enterprise? Borovo Combine, 1988 – 1991

Who Needs the Enterprise? Borovo Combine, 1988 – 1991
Thursday, 4th December 2017 at 8 p.m.
4th – 11th November 2017



Klub Kocka
Dom mladih
Ulica slobode 28, Split
OPENING HOURS: Mo – Fr 20 – 22 h



“If Borovo goes under, so will Yugoslavia”, was a phrase repeated among the Borovo factory workers at the end of the 80s. This phrase does not mean much to the average reader. Maybe it will lead one to think about the fact that the workers were referring to 23 different nationalities which had all worked in the factory; but, this is only a part of the story. Vukovar, as a town with a strong worker tradition, has completely been erased from our collective memory. Everything connected to the working class and industry has been lost alongside it; the worker experience and class perspective neglected.


In our research [1] titled “Continuity of Social Conflict in Croatia 1988–1991: Borovo combine” we studied the connections between workers’ strikes and class conflicts at the end of the 80s and the beginning of violent conflicts in the 90s. Starting from the 1988 strike, we attempted to reconstruct the experience of Borovo labor force until the summer of 1991, their shift regarding the changes in Yugoslavian society, and the available strategies for the articulation of their interests; namely, the resistance to a general decline of life standard, poverty and the precariatisation of work. For this research, we used the Borovo weekly paper and in-depth interviews done with former Borovo workers.


We have encountered a number of challenges and problems while doing the research. Some of those were of practical nature: the documentation of the industrial system from the period we were interested in was unavailable (either destroyed or missing), some of the issues of the weekly paper were not available at the Vukovar Municipality Museum, or we were unable to reach certain participants of the event. Other challenges we have encountered are the result of ideological shifts we study: the town of Vukovar, today reduced to a status of war casualty, from the perspective of our research started to appear as an industrial and working town in which multiethnic society was a banal fact of life, and its residents were people primarily interested in living matters. In order to get to know this Vukovar, one has to resist reading history backwards and transcend the limits of national projects which were built on the ruins of socialist Yugoslavia. This type of approach enables us to view the contemporary moment in light of everything repressed from the collective memory.


We believe this research can contribute to the progressive social change of today, when we recognize trends similar to those from the late 80s. The burning questions that arise from it do not only concern memory, but also organization, support and solidarity: for what reasons did the mobilization potential of the labor force in the 80s not manage to create wanted social change? What were the factors responsible for the weakening and fragmentation of the workers’ resistance? Which form of alliance could have helped in order to fulfill the potential of the workers’ strike? And how do these lessons respond to unexpected conditions of today?


— Borovo Group


The research started in 2013 at a course titled “Economic inequality and worker rights” at the Piece Studies, an informal educational project by the Center for Peace Studies, in cooperation with the Organization for Workers’ Initiative and Democratization. A small group of enthusiasts interested in this topic gathered at the course, where they voluntarily dedicated their time and efforts to the research. We have also received selfless and priceless help from the former Borovo workers Ivica Žabić and Ivan Hubalek, for which we are eternally grateful.



The exhibition Who Needs the Enterprise? is based on a research by the Borovo Group (Sven Cvek, Snježana Ivčić and Jasna Račić) dealing with the class conflicts in the Borovo industrial system in the pre-war era. Their research titled Continuity of Social Conflict in Croatia 1988-1991: Borovo combine is a representation, based on an example of a single factory, of the socio-political climate at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s, the time of social and economic reforms and the beginning of the decline of social ownership, as well as the first explicit nationalist tendencies which will, in the end, result in war. The format of the exhibition, due to its visual nature, enabled the vivid depiction and mapping of the frequency of different phenomena of the day, like workers’ strikes or waiting, and “pairing” those with certain political contexts, with the aim of detecting the connections between the events which led to the destruction of one of the most successful Yugoslavian factories and the events which resulted in bloodshed and the dissolution of the Republic itself. (from the text by Mirna Rul)

For more information about the research visit the website: borovo1988.radnickaprava.org.


AUTORSKI TIM IZLOŽBE: Sven Cvek, Snježana Ivčić, Jasna Račić, Barbara Majnarić, Katerina Duda, Mirna Rul

IZLOŽBU ORGANIZIRAJU: Centar za mirovne studije i Baza za radničku inicijativu i demokratizaciju u suradnji s udrugom Mavena – 36 njezinih čuda


EXHIBITION LAYOUT AND DOCUMENTATION: Gildo Bavčević, Barbara Majnarić i Katerina Duda

DESIGN: Nikola Križanac

PROGRAMME SUPPORTED BY: Projekt se provodi kroz mrežu Clubture uz financijsku podršku Ministarstva kulture Republike Hrvatske, Grada Zagreba – gradskog ureda za kulturu, obrazovanje i sport, Zaklade “Kultura nova” i Nacionalne zaklade za razvoj civilnog društva / kroz projekt Centri znanja.

PROGRAMME NMG@PRAKTIKA SUPPORTED BY: Ministarstvo kulture RH, Grad Split, Splitsko-dalmatinska županija

MAVENA SUPPORTED BY: Nacionalna zaklada za razvoj civilnog društva, Zaklada Kultura nova