The idea of creating a centre, a Serbian cultural centre in Ljubljana is quite old and the number of Serbian associations in Slovenia is significant. However, the group, which had already been working together, did not want either an obvious ethnic indexation or a traditionally based programme which is, for the most part, a characteristic of such associations. Such a programme, which is basically conservative, did not correspond to what we wanted to do: we did not want minority self-consciousness with fear and cautiousness etched into it, but on the contrary, we wanted a contemporary and critical view of all the societies we originated from, and especially the one we lived in.

Dušan Jovanović came up wih a brilliant idea of naming such an association, which would attempt to insert itself into the minority space in a different way, after Danilo Kiš. For us, Danilo Kiš is a symbol of everything not narrowly ethnic, not ignorant or limiting, but everything that is original, multicultural, intelligent, educated, innovative, bold and courageous. And more than anything, he signifies urban culture. That is the characteristic of Serbian culture closest to us, and the one which has represented an isle of a different, anti-nationalistic, pacifict and responsible understanding of Serbia, in the shameful recent history of Serbian nationalism.

As a group, we had many different programme components- research, performative (the Shadow Theatre, Karagiosis) and social- humanitarian actions, media: what the Centre lacked most was something of the greatest importance for an organisation named after Danilo Kiš- literature with (literary) theory. Even though all of us have dealt with literature in one way or another, there was no unique programme we could base our common poetics on. Luckily, another generation of highly educated young people came along and offered a basis for a new vision of our possibilities. The documents of the association,which are also available, are evidence of what we have achieved and what we do. Therefore, an exposition of what we think can be done with our association definitely makes sense.

The diaspora concept is well developed in history of literature and today it represents an area where translation, linguistic and cultural blending and sociology of literature meet. Minority literature is certainly one of the diaspora phenomena which is most often researched, especially within a framework of centre and periphery dynamics. The position of culture in the region, the history of regional literature as archeology and the intellectual and political challenge of the breakup have led us to think that the very “marginallity” of our position presents not only material for research, but also a space where, free from local frameworks and standards, institutional limitations and finally constraint of small markets, we can put the diasporic to a new level: one of experiment, avant-garde, disregard of the canons and rough improvisation with nationalistic cement in an airy structure of literature. If the Centre fell into the mud or quicksand, why wouldn’t marginal culture be the one to spread its young and mighty wings, and fearlessly take over the urge for change and novelty?

With a new understanding of the culture of diaspora, we open a portal for precisely such attempts.

Dr Svetlana Slapšak

Programme director