2016 Huttenbach Prize Winner
The selection committee of Bhavna Dave (SOAS), Florian Bieber (Graz) and Peter Rutland (Wesleyan) awarded the prize for 2015 to Robert Lučić of the Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam for his article "Dead heroes and living deserters: the Yugoslav People's Army and the public of Valjevo, Serbia, on the verge of war 1991" which was published in Issue 43:5 of Nationalities Papers.
ABSTRACT: With the withdrawal of the Yugoslav People's Army from Slovenia, the Yugoslav conflict escalated into a full-scale war in Croatia in the summer of 1991. The article explores the involvement of the Yugoslav People's Army in the war in East Slavonia from the local perspective of the Serbian town of Valjevo. Touching upon Serbia's political and social radicalization in Valjevo in the second half of the 1980s, it discusses the process of the local garrison's military mobilization and an incidence of mass desertion by Valjevo reservists in September 1991. Based on local archive material, press releases, and interviews with former soldiers, the account focuses on the city's national engagement, the garrison's deployment in combat, and the process of “reimplanting” patriotism after the reservists’ desertion. It reveals that the engagement of Valjevo's troops completed the city's mental process of ethnic segregation. The outbreak of violence in Croatia in 1991 destroyed the Yugoslav People's Army as a pillar of Yugoslav statehood and permanently transformed the identities of Valjevo's soldiers.