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‘The city in our hands’: urban management and contested modernity in nineteenth-century Belgrade

  • MILOŠ JOVANOVIĆ (a1)

Abstract:

This article examines the image of the city and notions of urban management in the discourse of elite groups in Belgrade between 1830 and the late 1860s. It focuses on the negotiation of modernity in heterogeneous cultural spaces, particularly looking at the textual interplay of power, orientalized exoticism and notions of backwardness. These discourses were integral to the processes of managing urban populations and homogenizing the cityscape. The city's specific political situation as a site of dual authority, however, left room for minor acts of contestation which questioned the primacy of exclusion and dispossession as bases for modern urban transformation. This dynamic interplay framed the city as a site of conflict between mutually defining forces of ‘Europeanization’ and ‘backwardness’.

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1 Parusheva, D., ‘Running “modern” cities in a patriarchal milieu: perspectives from the nineteenth-century Balkans’, in Roth, R. and Beachy, R. (eds.), Who Ran the Cities? City Elites and Urban Power Structures in Europe and North America, 1750–1940 (Aldershot and Burlington, VT, 2007), 190–1.

2 Yerolympos, A., ‘Urbanism as social engineering in the Balkans: reform prospects and implementation problems in Thessaloniki’, in Nasr, J. and Volait, M. (eds.), Urbanism: Imported or Exported? Native Aspirations and Foreign Plans (Chichester, 2003), 109, 111.

3 Stojanović, D., Kaldrma i Asfalt: urbanizacija i evropeizacija Beograda 1890–1914 (Beograd, 2008), 363.

4 Robinson, J., Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development (New York, 2006), 7.

5 Harvey, D., ‘Contested cities: social process and spatial form’, in LeGates, R.T. and Stout, F. (eds.), The City Reader (London and New York, 2007), 229, and Harvey, D., Paris, Capital of Modernity (New York, 2003), 1819.

6 Rose, N. and Miller, P., ‘Political power beyond the state: problematics of government’, British Journal of Sociology, 43 (1992), 179.

7 Joyce, P., The Rule of Freedom: Liberalism and the Modern City (London, 2003).

8 Ibid., 240.

9 On the role of travellers in imagining the ‘Balkan city’, see Jezernik, B., ‘Western perceptions of Turkish towns in the Balkans’, Urban History, 25 (1998), 211–30.

10 Ibid., 212.

11 See Lehan, R., The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History (Berkeley, 1998).

12 Here and elsewhere I refer to Miloš Obrenović using only his title, Knez (Prince), and first name.

13 Besides Belgrade, these cities included Smederevo (Semenderi), Šabac, Kladovo (Feth ul-Islam), Užice and Soko.

14 Belgradi, R., Istorija Čudnovatih događaja u Beogradu i Srbiji – I knjiga, trans. Čohadžić, D.S. (Beograd, 1894), 31.

15 Beogradski Sud knezu Milošu, 1 Apr. 1831, Arhiv Srbije (Archive of Serbia) (AS), Kneževa Kancelarija (Prince's Office) (KK) VIII, no. 323.

16 AS, KK VIII, 6 May 1831, no. 341(1).

17 AS, KK III, 5 May 1823, no. 37.

18 AS, KK III, 18 Sep. 1826, no. 42.

19 Ismail birakčija Knezu Milošu, 6 Feb. 1832, AS, KK XXIX, no. 140, etc. These letters are situated in the Kneževa Kancelarija (Prince's Office) fund of the Archives of Serbia, section no. XXIX Domaći Turci knezu Milošu (Local Turks to Prince Miloš).

20 AS, KK III, 1 Jul. 1825, nos. 592–5 This practice continued well into the 1830s and 1840s.

21 AS, KK III, 12 Jan. 1830, no. 415, also AS, KK III, no. 413.

22 AS, KK III, 1 Mar. 1830, etc. – nos. 419–30.

23 Arenda-based incomes represented 55% of the City Magistrate's income in 1839. See: Raport primiritelnog suda varoši Beograda, 3 Oct. 1840, Istorijski Arhiv Beograda (Historical Archive of Belgrade) (IAB), Uprava grada Beograda (Belgrade City Management) (UGB), K 10, F IV 529.

24 AS, KK VIII, 1 Apr. 1831, no. 308.

25 Peruničić, B., Beogradski Sud 1819–1839 (Beograd, 1964), 151.

26 Ibid., 597.

27 Maksimović, B., ‘Borba Za Održavanje Abadžijske Čaršije Kao Privrednog Elementa Novog Beograda Van Šanca’, Godišnjak Muzeja grada Beograda, 2 (1955), 237–46.

28 Ibid., 240.

29 Ibid., 241.

30 IAB, UGB, 12 Nov. 1847, no. 5519.

31 Ukaz o kasapnicama, 14 Feb. 1835, in Zbornik zakona i uredaba u Knjaževstvu Srbiji u dosadašnjim zbornicima neštampanih a izdanih od 2 februara 1835 do 23 oktobra 1875 godine, XXX (Beograd, 1877), 51.

32 IAB, UGB, 24 Oct. 1841, K 15, V 759.

33 Ibid., document no. 1776.

34 The distinction between the duties of the Magistrate and the police force was made early in the 1830s. See: IAB, UGB, 18 Jun. 1837, K 1, 240.

35 Rešenje o pravu otkupa zemljišta, 3 Jul. 1839, in Zbornik, 252.

36 Ibid., 255–6, 267.

37 IAB, UGB, 22 May 1840, K 7, F 177.

38 AS, KK VIII, 16 Apr. 1838, no. 699 (1).

39 AS, KK VIII, 21 Apr. 1838, no. 699 (2). The Batal Mosque was near the apex of the Belgrade crag, the furthest spot from both the Sava and the Danube rivers.

40 AS, Državni Savet (State Council) (DS), 14 Mar. 1842, no. 541.

41 AS, DS, 17 Mar. 1842, no. 544.

42 Đurić-Zamolo, D., Graditelji Beograda 1815–1914 (Beograd, 1981), 53.

43 Belgradi, Istorija Čudnovatih događaja u Beogradu i Srbiji, 33–4.

44 Appendix to a letter from Cvetko Rajović to Mihailo M. Obrenović, 20 May 1842, AS, DS, no. 560.

45 AS, DS, 23 Mar. 1842, no. 550.

46 AS, DS, 20 May 1842, no. 560.

47 Belgradi, Istorija Čudnovatih događaja u Beogradu i Srbiji, 35, 44.

48 Ibid., 71.

49 Paton was a British diplomat and traveller who authored several books on the Ottoman territories, including Researches on the Danube and the Adriatic (London, 1861).

50 Paton, A.A., Serbia: Youngest Member of the European Family (London, 1845), 38. Paton is probably referring to Alaric A. Watts’ popular poem ‘The siege of Belgrade’, published in London's Literary Gazette in 1817.

51 Ibid., 39–40.

52 Ibid., 42.

53 Siegfried, born Isaac Salomon Kapper, was a Slavophile Bohemian Jew who published several works on Serbia and the Balkans.

54 Kapper, S., Vuk Stefanovitsch Karadschitsch. † 8. Februar zu Wien. Allgemeine Zeitung, Beilage, no. 62, 24 Mar. 1864, 1001–2, 1017–18, 1035–6.

55 Kapper, S., A Visit to Belgrade (London, 1854), 5.

56 Ibid., 15.

57 Ibid., 16, 23, 20.

58 Blanqui, J.-A., Izvestie o stanju naroda u evropskoj Turskoj, trans. Medaković, D. (Novi Sad, 1850).

59 Milićević, Milan Đ., Pomenik znamenitih ljudi u srpskog naroda novijega doba (Beograd, 1888), 335–6.

60 Blanqui, Izvestie o stanju naroda u evropskoj Turskoj, 17–18.

61 Ibid., 13, 15, 11, 12.

62 Spencer, E., Travels in France and Germany in 1865 and 1866 – Including a Steam Voyage down the Danube and a Ride across the Mountains of European Turkey from Belgrade to Montenegro (London, 1866).

63 Ibid., 165.

64 Ibid., 172–3.

65 Ibid., 174–5. For Spencer, this improvement stems from the ‘air of nobility about this tribe [Servian] of the great Slavonian race’.

66 IAB, UGB, 6 Nov. 1848, K 97, 2988.

67 IAB, UGB, 20 Dec. 1850, K 147, F XVII 2788.

68 IAB, UGB, 17 Aug. 1850, K 142, F XII 2094.

69 IAB, UGB, 11 Jan. 1850, K 124, F I 66.

70 IAB, UGB, 27 Nov. 1845, K 43, 1125.

71 IAB, UGB, 25 Jun. 1850, K 124, F XII 1944, no. 2819.

72 See Douglas, M., Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London, 1984).

73 IAB, UGB, 19 Oct. 1849, K 101, F I 106.

74 IAB, UGB, 11 Jun. 1849, K 113, F VII 1383.

75 IAB, UGB, 20 Apr. 1843, K 23, 748.

76 IAB, UGB, 16 Oct. 1850, K 147, F XVII 2760.

77 IAB, UGB, 24 Feb. 1848, K 89, F III 550.

78 IAB, UGB, 5 Aug 1850, K 142, F XII 2041.

79 AS, DS, 18 Nov. 1859, no. 904.

80 AS, DS, 23 Nov. 1859, no. 904 (2).

81 IAB, UGB, 12 Jun. 1840, K 8, F II 290.

82 IAB, UGB, 10 Mar. 1838, K 2, F 182.

83 IAB, UGB, 29 Dec. 1848, K 98, F 3000.

84 IAB, UGB, 25 Aug. 1860, K 488, F XII 287.

85 IAB, UGB, 12 Jul. 1840, K 10, F IV 642.

86 Andrić, N.et al., Beograd u XIX veku (Beograd, 1967), 48.

87 IAB, UGB, 2 Jun. 1862, K 631, 88.

88 The agreement was brokered by Serbian Foreign Minister Ilija Garašanin, whose 1844 text, the Načertanije, outlined a programme of state expansion. He questioned the political reality of two police forces in the city one year prior to the riots. See AS, DS, Fond Ilije Garašanina, no. 1214, 2587/30.

89 AS, DS, 29 Aug. 1867, no. 277, and AS, DS, 21 Aug. 1868, no. 342.

90 IAB, UGB, 12 Jun. 1862, K 625, F XXIX 164.

91 IAB, UGB, 28 Jun. 1862, K 631, 139.

92 Nikić, L., ‘Prelazak Emilijana Josimovića u Srbiju 1845. godine’, Godišnjak grada Beograda, 24 (1977), 39.

93 Ibid., 35.

94 IAB, UGB, 20 Apr. 1842, K 17, F II 422.

95 IAB, UGB, 16 Jul. 1847, K 77 F VII 2090.

96 IAB, UGB, 25 Jul. 1847, K 77, F VII 2214.

97 IAB, UGB, 23 Feb. 1850, K 130, F III 573.

98 IAB, UGB, 18 Dec. 1843, no. 2068.

99 IAB, UGB, 19 May 1844, K 30, 216.

100 Josimović, E., Objasnenje predloga za regulisanje onoga dela varoši Beograda što leži u šancu (Beograd, 1997 (orig. 1867)), 7.

101 Ibid., 13.

102 Ibid., 10, 28.

103 Ibid., 13, 23, 31, 36–7.

104 Ibid., 41.

105 Ibid., 45.

106 AS, DS, 13 Feb. 1869, no. 2.

107 AS, DS, 13 Feb. 1869, no. 2 (fol. 2).

108 In his letter, Deli-Marković also exclaimed: ‘shall not our pride be insulted if our capital should maintain the shape given to her by barbarity? A shape typified by alien custom, alien faith and prejudice, a type of fear and darkness, a type of constrictedness and petty spirit?’

* I owe my sincere gratitude to colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the East European Reading Group for their help in conceptualizing this article, Markian Prokopovych, Maria Todorova and Mark Steinberg for their help with preliminary drafts, as well as Maria Cristina Galmarini for her immaculate editing skills and thoughtful suggestions. Thanks are also due to the staff at the Archive of Serbia, the Historical Archive of Belgrade and Aleksa Jorga for pointing me to sources on Belgrade's Muslims.

‘The city in our hands’: urban management and contested modernity in nineteenth-century Belgrade

  • MILOŠ JOVANOVIĆ (a1)

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