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On Bor’s Industrial Heritage

28 Aug 2020

Dragan Stojmenovic


This year, two interesting research and art projects are being independently realized in Bor – and perhaps with a not so strange coincidence. One is international — “As you go. . . The roads under your feet, towards a new future” [1], and the other is national — “Eighth Kilometer” [2]. With their topics, intentions and approach, they made me think about the reasons for their interest in Bor. Bor, as one of the most important industrial, mining and metallurgical centers in northeastern Serbia, is a city with an interesting history, alongside a specific natural environment and cultural heritage that is very difficult to summarize in a general article with facts that would show the current state – because this “current state” presents a stage within the perpetual change of all previous socio-historical, natural and cultural facts. Namely, these facts exist only in certain circumstances and contexts of their use, even when it comes to geological and geomorphological characteristics. Not to mention the ideological discourses of socio-economic formations of the different social systems, and the intentions of the politics of representation. Therefore, I could not write the kind of introduction that would simply describe the city of Bor. Instead, I would like to comment as a professional native who comes “from within”. We have yet to come to some relevant facts, though what is being offered to us must not be taken for granted. However, the aforementioned projects refer to, or confirm the fact that, the company for industrial production and processing of copper — Mining and Smelting Combine Bor, which was owned by the state – has now found its way to the New Silk Road, and that it has only been majority-owned by the new Chinese company for a year. The first mentioned international project is partly realized in Bor and will investigate changes within the aesthetics and practice of everyday life in the local environment, which have occurred with the arrival of Chinese investments. The second, is a project by the artists and architects who will represent the Republic of Serbia at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, responding to the question and topic of the International Architecture Exhibition, How will we live together?. It intertwines with the complex and comprehensive presentation of Bor, related to redefining the life-work relationship in the physical layout of the currently existing seven city zones, with a projection of common life in the future at the “Eighth Kilometer” (situated within the new circumstances of the minority strategic partnership with foreign investors from China, with whom we will live and work). As can be seen from the footnotes, the projects were well-timed and designed with flexible methodologies, which have adapted to our current global climate (primarily because they are based on planned ongoing research). In that sense, they are also interested in a more comprehensive understanding of local systems of definitions, classification and division – starting with the most impressive industrial landscapes, sections and developments of the city itself. Therefore, everything evolves from a singular starting point, which could have a zero degree of significance — from the old Bor mine…from the pit…Zero kilometerfifth side of the world — for those whose level of understanding would require knowing the other seven points…kilometers…chapters. 

Industrial heritage in the heritage industry

“The sublime words of Schiller’s Ode to Joy fell on the gloomy workers’ faces.

No, no, no. Sorry. I repeat.

They fell on the illuminated… Yes, yes… Illuminated workers’ faces.” [3]

„Op mala, op, površinski kop!” (“Oi honey, oi, surface mining!”) [4]

The term industrialization implies the use of techniques and technology for a mass, serial production of goods or raw materials; for personal or social economic interests of investors, with the distinct forcing of economic growth and development of organized production; often compared to some previous, technological, technical and “outdated” or “belated” organizational type of production, such as artisanal or manufacturing production. The precondition for performing the play of industrialization is the class privilege of those who possess and know certain techniques and technologies, and through applying them, some automatic authority is gained. In addition to the specialized class of engineers and investors, industrialization is enabled by workers and workers’ culture, with the direct interests of these two groups being realized from completely divergent ideological points of view — private and public, personal and collective. Industrialization brings certain cultural qualifications and processes of a modernization of “others”, and “underdeveloped and backward” areas, known today as “Eastern”, “Southern”, “Southeastern Europe” or “Third World Europe”. Unfortunately, such modernization qualifications and aspirations have long accompanied geographically oriented parts of Serbia that needed to be modernized; “discovered”, “renewed”, “introduced”, “developed”, “reborn”, “improved”. In comparison with their northern and western counterparts, the southern and eastern regions are considered corners of developed areas, or “appendages” of a healthy organism. Such a role was often imposed and lightly accepted, we assume with reasons, which we will look for in socio-political influences, existential impulses and the desire to play and learn.

The starting point of the discussed topic is given by the content of the heritage institutions’ funds in Bor [5] and the facts, which in every respect, speak in favor of institutions based on workers’ culture and workers’ organization, logical upgrades and real needs for public institutions – not by the “modernization” and “industrialization” of exclusively privileged classes. We will not consider these initial positions important to show some progressive development of social institutions, but rather, to make an ideological distinction between the social potentials of real needs (necessities) and desires (aspirations). Do public social institutions fulfill the expressed necessary needs, or do they satisfy “desires”? In that sense, we will deal with industrialization and the industry, not only because of their specific material consequences and interests, but primarily because of their cognitive potentials that cause the fixation and recognition of a certain image of a city. That is, a certain, hypothetically derived, dominant attitude; expressed in public discourses surrounding the ideological predominance of the industrial over workers’ culture in Bor during the second decade of the 21st century.

As an indicative example of the imposition of a new, distinctly dominant discourse, we will now examine the symbolic gesture of repositioning objects from the Park Museum along the main street in Bor during 2009 [6], and the prevalence of a new public industrial discourse, at the expense of the discourse of workers’ culture and workers’ organization (which until then, as the dominant ideological formation, was clearly expressed in planned urban solutions and already arranged monuments as symbols of work and workers’ organization in the city center [7]). We will consider these relocated and rearranged exhibits as a new discursive, syntactic structure that significantly changes the meaning of the exhibits and shows the processes of changing the politics of representation and shifting attitudes around cultural and historical heritage. More precisely, we will try to consider the influence of dominant ideologies on the configuration of the cultural and historical heritage of Bor within public space, alongside the materialization of expressed desires through that newly composed industrial heritage, and taking over the authority of institutions over that cultural heritage. In that sense, the implementation of a new representation policy in a symbolic formation, created by public monuments and redistributed exhibits, enables a new reading, an understanding and an attempt to revise historical facts, as well as expressing some “desires” of the presumed author of the new installation of exhibits and monuments. Firstly, the intention is to expose the “affirmative power” of discourse (Fuko 2007, p. 52) through the representation policy expressed in the mentioned symbolic structure; to use criticism as a “style of learned ease”, as opposed to an expressed genealogical “happy positivism” (Ibid.) (changing the image of the city through a campaign, “For a better Bor” [8]) in order to understand what we’ve been “told” by the formation in public space. It would be sad if we admitted at the very beginning, that the recently experienced reality showed us the origin of such a materialized exhibition “expression”, so instead, we will further interrogate the topic by explaining and conceptualizing it in the form of a text.

In the introduction to his lecture Order of Discourse, 1970, Foucault clearly states his hypothesis, which we will try to understand and apply here: “… in every society, the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed by a certain number of procedures whose role is to ward off its power and dangers, to gain mastery over its chance events, to evade its ponderous, formidable materiality ” (Foucault 2007, p. 8). We should emphasize the implementation of the process of “taming power and danger” within the already existing historical and ideological discourses of workers’ culture and workers’ organization of the past decade, as important for understanding the current suppression of these discourses. From a broader perspective, in creating a new “image of the city” based exclusively on the campaign strategy of “public relations”, the aim was to construct a new “collective identity”, which marginalizes or completely excludes the materialized ideology of workers’ culture from public space and life. What did the author of the aforementioned installation want to achieve, and what are the origins of their expression, which was subsequently materialized within a public space? Such a “general” image or display will be placed in direct relation to the creation and existence of real images or displays, such as photographs and films, as well as institutional and organized visualizations of Bor — which can lead to the identification of certain “commonplace” or locus communis (local “topoi”). In this case, this works to connect the obvious structural organization of urban areas marked by kilometers [9] (which represents the linear historical and communal development of the city) with the narrativization of the topic we will present. Knowledge on the topic of this paper, in that sense, is not limited exclusively to the effects of constructing positive or negative attitudes/images. It is also largely based on responsibility, and the experience and interpretation of the facts surrounding the disinterested and aimless wandering (for the sake of upholding a preventive way of maintaining the health of critical consciousness), in order to “discover the author or authors” of this kind of “optical hygiene”.

The very topic of industrial heritage in the heritage industry was chosen to most effectively describe the current state of industrial heritage in Bor from the position of a “native ethnologist” [10] – perhaps more precisely: “professional native” – to explain one of its many possible perceptions. Such freedom of interpretation, of course, does not imply arbitrariness in approach, but obliges to the responsibility of understanding and interpreting real positions and facts, to produce a meaningful “self-critical” structure. It would be necessary, for example, with modern librarianship (due to the existence of an important institution, or the principle of desideratum in acquisition policy, i.e. planned and strategic replenishment of funds with missing materials or rare disciplinary approaches to certain topics). The topic is approached from a critical position precisely because the funds are systematically filled with historical material, while the prevailing expectations are directed exclusively towards the uncritical reproduction of historiographical and contemporary social facts by “innovative technologies”.

From the professional obligations of the librarians of the Local History Department of the Public Library of Bor came the motivation to explore this topic; to understand, and to present a part of the industrial heritage preserved in the Library. This motivation not only emerged from the professional obligations of a local history librarian, but also from a collaboration with prof. Slobodan Naumović, (which takes place in several related and intertwined thematic areas through many years of his field work in Bor), on the analytical processing of photo documentation from the point of view of visual anthropology. This has inspired and encouraged multiple approaches, potentials and perspectives for new interpretations, focusing on the cultural-historical, labor and industrial heritage preserved in the mentioned institution. This “key resource” (Naumović, 2013, p. 75–111) with numerous implications in contemporary everyday life, reflected on contemporary creativity and discovering the approach to photography as a continuous practice of visual recording in Bor; pointing out the need to understand and reveal intentions, methodologies and messages that the authors convey with their visual projections. By introducing collaborative (shared) anthropology [11] into the process of interpreting photography – an integrated methodological approach to interpreting “inside” and “outside”, “mirrors” and “windows” – a necessary balance is established, and an essential connection between differing, subjective, and social views, evaluations and meanings is achieved. (See more in: Naumović, Radivojević, 2015). It is precisely the connections between “life and work”, “collective and individual memory”, “different types of applied photography and industrial heritage”, “institutional and non-institutional visual recording” that inspired the search for balance between industrial heritage and workers’ culture (Ibid., pp. 126-182). In the joint intention with prof. Naumović, during the elaboration of the topic Visualization of working culture and industrial heritage in Bor, the foundations of the view “from within” were to be established, in order to balance the relations between our current contemporary position of interpretation, and use of visual material. Thus, this text should articulate, set, and describe the reflective state, conditions, and perspectives of the interpretation of industrial heritage and workers’ culture in the “mirror” of modern local society and culture.

On the other hand, the impetus came from the domains of librarianship and museology (museum studies), heritology (derived from a critique of museum studies and the need to create a science of heritage skills, and learning about memory skills) and thinking about strategies for selecting and representing cultural goods for the purpose of redefining identity elaborated by prof. Dragan Bulatović. (Bulatović, 2004, 2013, 2015a, 2015b.)

The topological narrative of this paper, and the text that accompanies the division of Bor into kilometers, is incorporated into the well-known linear origin of the beginning and end, with minimal historicization to obscure, retain, and evoke “self-understanding” (not to mention environmental pollution) of authentic local expression and condition, that is interlaced into a kind of constitutive mythology. In that sense, it will be important to maintain a balance between the description of the condition and the process, accounting for the frequent slips and sudden braking caused by clumsy driving of a “heavy truck in reverse” – or by dancing “kolo” (circle dance) on the serpentine paths of Bor mines – so that we can “safely” park or dance with the topic.

The blue cinemascope in the movie Op, mala, op! Centar za neformalnu komunikaciju – Nemušto, Bor, 2001.

The First Kilometer

The processes of the industrialization of Bor could be characterized as modernization during the administration of the French Society of the Bor Mines (the Concession St. George) from 1903 to 1941. It was then the intensive exploitation of ore began: metallurgical plants were built, and with a sudden influx of workers, a mining colony was subsequently formed. It is important to note that following only the interests of production, there was only the controlled development of the town and communal structures deemed necessary, in order to maintain the administrative status of the mining colony. “The French built what they had to in the settlement, but they resisted that Bor gains the status of a city, because then they would be obliged to build a lot more (primarily underground sewerage)…” (Jovanović, 1987–1990, p. 196). Until the liberation, and shortly after the Second World War, Bor was known exclusively as Bor mines. Although Bor gained the status of being a city in 1947, but the old name had already been in use for some time. However, it wasn’t until the next cycle of modernization (during the period of the First and Second phases of reconstruction [12]), in a completely different socio-political system of self-managing socialism, that a new society was established – new metallurgical plants were built, new mines were opened and the city was urbanized.

The recent process of industrialization and attempts at modernization can be characterized as a process of “retraditionalization”: the discovery of industrial heritage and local history from completely different political and ideological positions of liberal capitalism, in the period of transition and “reconstruction” during the second decade of the twenty-first century. Therefore, we focus on the trend  toward deriving certain cultural characteristics of the dominant economic activities (mining and metallurgy) from certain natural determinations, i.e natural resources (forests, rivers, ores), in order to show historical depth, continuity, permanence or a certain “tradition” (see more in: Romelić, 2017). At the same time, we emphasize their constitutive potential related to modern understandings and uses of the terms “industrial heritage” and “workers’ culture”. Keeping this in mind, we will pay attention to the essential connections between this industrial heritage and workers’ culture, but also to the emphasis on the differences between them, or their tendentious division into two isolated categories. Their essential connection is in the fact that cultural heritage exists as a reality in the balanced interdependence of its tangible and intangible components, not in the selective interpretation of individual contributions. Therefore, we use this connection with a deliberate ideological implication — a “thread”: with industrial heritage as a material, and labor culture and organization as an intangible component of a unique cultural and historical heritage. It is a “thread” that is untied from either the “left” or “right” side. Considering the current situation of the predominance of material industrial heritage over workers’ culture, we can follow from which side, figuratively, the thread is untied –  on workers’ boots or off the “fast” and comfortable sneakers of liberal industrial capitalism The thread is, of course, strongly tied on both sides, regardless of the footwear in question. However, according to the social position and responsibility towards cultural and historical heritage, preparation for work itself, (when it comes to work, we count on ambiguity associating the word “work” with the text you are reading) has shown that the most harmful thing for the local community is untying and taking off (visually unrepresentative) worn-out workers’ shoes.

The real presence and potentials of industrial heritage and working culture in Bor therefore has  a dark side; embodied in demagoguery, populist rhetoric, and the instrumentalization of cultural and historical heritage over the past decade. This resulted in the realization of the greatest fears of workers and citizens: the privatization of the company and granting concessions for the exploitation of natural resources. Privatization of important objects of cultural and historical heritage (e.g. an old building in which Head offices of the successive corporations were situated, or a memorial complex dedicated to the victims of the forced labour in Bor during WWII, which is in the vicinity of the new pit) happened at the same time. On this occasion, we aim to challenge, describe and analyze these different positions of the relationship between property and ownership of cultural goods within the “heritage industry”. The phrase “heritage industry” (Bulatović, 2015, p. 137) is transferred from the museological theory of prof. Dragan Bulatović, who mentions it in the “context of individualization of cultural property” for the development of, for example, cultural tourism, whose priority is to emphasize economic interest, and the main feature: serial production, based on models in the field of management within liberal economics and culture, aimed at construction of “desirable images” (Bulatović, 2013, p. 12) or a positive reputation.

An adequate example of this selective conceptualization and instrumentalization of industrial heritage happened during the campaign of the company RTB Bor “For a better Bor”. In our case, to achieve this “desirable image” of the company and the city, we resorted to already defined and cultivated cultural goods and museum artifacts from the Technical Collection of the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy in Bor, as well as deliberately neglecting to show real and constructive contributions of workers’ culture and workers’ organization. However, at that very moment, when the company’s new public relations strategy indicated the need to produce a “positive reputation” of the company and the city, it reached for the “desired” component of the instant market economy — the already organized, systematically raised, and collected cultural and historical heritage in the Park Museum [13]. Why exactly that? Perhaps because in showing some “genealogy” or continuity of industrial activity, its “historical depth” revealed the enablement of a modernist, linear view of the “progress” of industry (as well as of the industry itself), emphasizing its constitutive contributions, (though while doing so, deliberately neglecting the contribution of workers’ culture and organization)? Because of the forced and unauthorized appropriation of industrial heritage, the imposition of only one option in the “managerial strategy” of the city’s representation (the marginalization and ignoring of the professional activities of local heritage institutions)?

Museums, libraries and archives carry out their activities based on the belief that cultural goods, under the protection of heritage institutions (the “owners” who use and manage them), are inalienable. That is, according to Article 14 of the valid Law on Cultural Property, they can be “alienated” under the conditions previously determined by the Law, but the “right of ownership” cannot be acquired over them (Law, 1994, Article 14). In the case we will consider, there was an unauthorized alienation of cultural goods that had had a great impact on the development of society, culture, technology and science, which consequently were under the protection of the Museum (Ibid. Article 5). The alienated objects were rearranged and dislocated from the Park Museum to the main street in Bor with the intention of “telling the story of the development of Bor”. Given the obligation of a comprehensive approach to the topic of industrial heritage, choice of methodology, and manner of presentation, it would be necessary to pay attention to this process of unauthorized “industrialization” – this instrumentalization of heritage outside of heritage institutions, to consider the ways in which the heritage has been incorporated into market relations, and how a “positive reputation” of the city/company and their “branding” have been created. In that sense, the “heritage industry” was used to describe in detail the current state of manipulation of cultural and historical heritage, in order to construct an alternative public discourse on the more important characteristics of the city, and the possible influences on creating a new, more positive “city reputation” in 2009-2019.

The use of tradition and retraditionalization are processes characteristic of societies in transition. “Having found suitable ground for a society with disrupted, but not completely stopped currents of modernization, for such a society that perceived its situation as a crisis in key areas of activity, such as economy, international relations, ideology or culture, the practice of using tradition as a means of adapting to consequences, and overcoming the causes of the crisis, has spread from the domain of politics to almost all areas of social life in Serbia” (Naumović, 2009, p. 10). On the other hand, in such a situation of presenting the public use of “alienated heritage”, we must resort to a certain cynicism in interpreting the problem. Primarily because in such a situation we must not allow cultural goods, although alienated, to be considered “property” (with exclusive rights to personal vision and their interpretation), whatever newly composed construction they should present in these emerging contexts. prof. Dragan Bulatović problematizes the processes of “branding museum heritage”, showing completely opposing positions of cultural goods within institutions (in charge of their upbringing and preservation) relating to market relations and market logic, which are increasingly applied in those institutions. Representative exhibition activities of cultural institutions are spectacularized thanks to marketing that offers “unique opportunities” for viewing — viewing and access to funds – but: “offered is not available (museum vaults are inalienable, unique, unrepeatable, and sometimes, unfortunately, untouchable)” (Bulatović, 2004. p. 146). “The usual metaphoricality of the slogan should grow into a condensation by which the subject expresses the repressed meaning of his desire (Lacan), and the chosen symbols would have to be replaced by a metonymic movement denoting what desire is – the desire for something else that is always missing.” (Ibid., P. 146). We therefore live the consequences of fulfilled desires (not the needs of social institutions) which we have expressed in recent history. Fulfilled by an unfounded, materialized, symbolic arrangement of cultural goods in public space (which should have a real “historical depth” and wider social significance) in fact, represents an unlit tunnel through a hill of accumulated problems, dug with a concrete intention and hope that in the end, we will be liked by the foreign investors who will allow us to be “reborn” from our womb. What kind of tradition and industrial heritage do we have if our heritage is a constant confiscation and appropriation of cultural and historical values, make-up, and temporariness, while we hold onto the hope that the rich inheritance will eventually be excavated for us? What happens in the end, when cultural goods are used as the “secondary raw material” of daily politics?

We must remember that a period of just over a century is still young. Incredibly alive. Usable and dynamic. So paradoxical and brilliant, that it was possible for the miner, Paun Meždinović, who had discovered the ore in 1903 as a working boy, and retired in the 1950s  to work as a security guard at the Museum in Bor [14]. Why are we “ashamed” of workers, workers’ culture and workers’ organization today? What led us to have the industrial heritage of machines and technical means collected for the needs of the Park Museum, only to be appropriated and instrumentalized for the purpose of selling what we thought we would inherit — what built us? Such dynamics of uncertainty, impotence of profession, negligence and misunderstanding of the founders of public institutions towards the public good, and active privatization of social property, can be important reasons why Bor is omitted from the review, analysis and strategy of presenting historically relevant potentials of specific (tangible and intangible) cultural heritage encompassed by this recently identified industrial heritage. We can continue to look for these reasons. But first, we must oppose the diminution of the authority local heritage institutions hold over public cultural and historical heritage spaces, as well abolish the ingrained prejudice that dictates places of heavy industry “have no history or tradition” – that they are young, artificially and forcibly created only for the temporary satisfaction of our basic needs (proverbial “to seek one’s fortune”). Living and working in the same place – a segment of culture related to the production, exploitation and the routine of everyday life, burdened by the noise of machines, and the smell of polluted air and land – contradicts the intended outcome of “market logic”. Of rational calculations of civilizational achievements, and an agreeable representational image. By that logic, this image should not seem threatening to foreign investors or tourists.

The picture of everyday life in Bor consists mainly of fatigue, mechanically organized routine, hard labor, sickness, and vague and divided emotions, all laid out upon landscapes with serpentines on tailings, reminding us that we are only here temporarily, to earn and survive. This contrasts heavily with the “positive” and “beautiful” characteristics that would benefit the desired image of progress. Local authenticity is lost when the social needs met by public institutions become somebody else’s instrumentalized desires. The intentions of these desires are to be what we are not – or, if we adopt them, to portray us, just as we are. The processes of adopting desires can be silent and gradual, until eventually agreed upon; while the presentation or manifestation of intentions that fit into a certain social praxis, can be considered a “play”. The play itself can absorb and include us to be a part of it – but it also maintains a certain distance, so that the understanding of our spatial position relating to that play is framed by ourunderstanding of the relationship between positions of representation and real conditions; between adopted joint representation and the fulfillment of functions of compensating (or compensation) for certain expectations, shortcomings and needs. The director of such a play may or may not plan the audience’s participation, but he certainly counts on its passive observation. Therefore, a critical consideration of social needs is a corrective in the realization of the activities of public institutions, which, in part, regulate the realization of the expressed desires of individuals. Meanwhile, important facts are being hidden and forgotten. Something was left somewhere to be here. Something important was taken to be as it is now. We suppress and forget something important. Something constantly reminds us that things should really be better than they are – not just look better or prettier. Why must an “aesthetic” criteria be allowed to impose the polarization of citizens: if we are not “for a more beautiful Bor”, we are automatically destined for that “less beautiful Bor”? Additionally, a primary organic attachment – closeness to the landscape and homeland – has been silenced and suppressed. It is “self-evident” and quite obviously present, based on the very choice to be here, even if we have just left from an outdated train at railway platform. We are here, after all. Everyone around us came from somewhere. We are all “foreigners” — natives of “non-places” [15]. “This need to find meaning in the present, and perhaps in the past, is the price we pay for the abundance of events in what we might call the ‘super modern’, to express its essential quality: excess” (Ože M. 2005, pp. 31–32). Augé determines the state of supermodernity  through “the figures of excess”. One of them concerns time — exaggeration in the sense of the abundance of time (Ibid., P. 32). Paradoxically, we find this “excess of time” in the already mentioned visualized assembly procedure: in the installation of redistributed industrial machines and public monuments along the main street, which vacuums the history of Bor and explodes in our contemporaneity and everyday life. More precisely, the abundance of “unauthorized alienated”, rearranged objects of the Park-Museum show us the desired state whose intentions we “do not read”.

The second, important exaggeration that Augé points out, is spatial. Related to the accelerated crossing of distances and the transmission of images, only one image “possesses a power far in excess of any objective information it carries” (Ibid., P. 32). Meanwhile, Augé warns us of the “false familiarity” that images on screens, or in public spaces, can create. (Which, frankly and outside of the topic of this essay, everyone is currently relying on, to some degree). “The spatial overabundance” is expressed in the abundance of “images and imaginary references, and in the spectacular acceleration of transport (Ibid., P. 36). Such an abundance of images and traffic, we assume, may be a consequence of certain aspects of industrialization (such as the concentration of population in cities and increased population movement), with which Augé introduces us to the “non-places”: “The installations needed for the accelerated circulation of passengers and goods (high-speed roads and railways, interchanges, airports) are just as much non-places as the means of transport themselves, or the great commercial centers, or the extended transit camps where the planet’s refugees are parked.” (Ibid., P. 36). The aforementioned “liberating” phrase — natives of “non-place” — should allow the author and the reader to understand what is read, lived, interpreted, present, here and now in the text, or in the subject itself. It partly “liberates” the author as a “typewriter”, confirms and justifies his position, but paradoxically, also enables the recognition of the production of “commonplaces” (in the text or subject of study) striving to show the authenticity of a given culture and community. In that context, we do not forget that sociologist, Cvetko Kostić, pointed out in 1962 the existence of functional urban zones — “residential aggregates” within several categories of social aggregates – as “a characteristic of a modern city and city life” in relation to Bor. Besides residential aggregates, social aggregates also include crowds, masses, and audiences (Kostić, C. 1962, pp. 97–100), which points to similar characteristics with Augé’s “non-places”. Perhaps this kind of liberating cynicism of being a natives of “non-place”, based on the continuity of “residential aggregates” of workers / citizens, could offer us an adequate critical apparatus to be present in the text or subject, as we would be in our room or workplace.

Based on institutional legal regulations and the “reflexive” approach to cultural heritage demonstrated in the texts of prof. Dragan Bulatović [16] (the mentioned balanced, discursive and comprehensive approach to industrial heritage); and the work of prof. Slobodan Naumović, inspired by anthropological and museological theories; as well as library theory and practice, we will use the local spectacularization of the “industrial heritage” in the era of “tourism and the renaissance”, as a contrast when scanning the current situation before setting out to “unwind the film” away from our contemporaneity.

Industrial heritage as a “key resource” is still not recognized as a special segment of cultural heritage within the current Law on Cultural Heritage (Law, 1994), but it is a constitutive element and has been the basis of all heritage institutions in Bor since their founding. “One of the current definitions is offered in the so-called Nizhny Tagil Charter for the Industrial Heritage. The charter was adopted in Moscow in 2003 by the Assembly of Representatives of the International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH). According to that charter, industrial heritage can be considered objects and structures built for industrial activities, processes, and means used within them, as well as the cities and landscapes where they are located, together with their tangible and intangible phenomena, of fundamental importance” (Naumović, 2013, p. 76). As an example, technical heritage and objects of technical culture, that are kept in museums and universities, are most closely related to objects and the concept of industrial heritage. Due to the advancement of technology and techniques, more and more instruments, equipment and tools are being overtaken by newer, more efficient, higher quality, faster and more precise means; thus there is a need to preserve old technical objects that are no longer in use. The real fear of the transience and obsolescence of technical objects is equally valid for industrial heritage. Consider: cities and the geographical formations of landscapes and panoramas (as a broader term of industrial heritage which can move beyond a laboratory or factory and into ambient units) and the depths of their impact on people’s lives and their existence. Unlike the idea behind technical heritage, the industrial heritage, in addition to “transience”, implies additional fears related to the alienation of workers from the means of labor, the sale of resources, and the privatization of social property. Reflexive attitudes towards labor, means, and products and production, is the most important because it allows for the recognition of their social values. Such a reflective relationship can also be the basis for understanding workers’ culture and organization as an intangible form of industrial heritage. “Industrial heritage as a concept, and as a field of professional activity, arose when a number of emotionally interested people became faced with the rapid destruction of everything that would later be united by that concept; which was then understood as a set of ugly, naturally scattered waste, or as a remnant of old times that hinders the development of new forms of business, a new industrial cycle” (Naumović, 2013, p. 77). “Heritage exists only when it acquires the status of property in the consciousness of an individual. […] only good knowledge of one’s own property…an awareness of the values ​​we ascribe to the material world, can help plan production activities. Then, a wealth of memory becomes crucial in strategic investment. The latter implies that any individualization of cultural property transpires in order to achieve progress within the life of the community, which [subsequently] forms economic patterns [from] the good sense of memory and inheritance of each other’s own cultural property” (Bulatović, 2015a, p.137). However, Bulatović further points out and warns that “culture is a matter of continuous construction and should not be inherited, as opposed to material remnants of the past that are necessarily part of the hereditary suitcase” (Ibid.), that by inheritance law is possible to have a titular “without culture”, without “sense of heritage”. We will remind you again of the valid Law on Cultural Property, according to which cultural goods are those whose laws and regulations prescribe the value which should be preserved for the public good, and that they are owned by the state, and the institutions who own cultural goods manage, preserve, and make them available under certain conditions. In our case, there is such a titular, or so-called local sheriff, who gives himself the right to participate in the management of cultural goods; placing himself above institutions, above the law, and above a powerless, decent culture “with a bun”, who ultimately has no strength to oppose the newly composed raw, political power. Of course, we can assume the outcomes of the interests of such a titular. Unfortunately, and due to institutional inertia, everything occurs with the newly composed verses “ne može nam niko ništa, jači smo od sudbine” [17] and representation policy of a dominant group of manipulators, so that only the darkest premonitions come true (and always in their favor), leaving us to think about what we have left and what is melted down, lost and sold out.

“If it is clear that the civic museum offers a way of understanding time and its stock market value — the surplus value of the time of a capitalist economy – and it is clear that it is vulnerable to the inside, only if the reality whose image it generates changes radically. Any intention to situate the idea of ​​intertwining the conception of reality within his own conception, comes as a side of the order of values ​​which he follows” (Bulatović, 2015, p. 58). We must note that Professor Bulatovic considers “heritage industry” from the standpoint of cultural tourism in the context of the individual and family initiatives who see only the economic side of the economy. “Usually, small initiatives are taken as models of solutions in economically hopeless areas, and in that sense, they act as necessary – often the only – bridges in the current situation” (Bulatović, 2015, p. 157). It could be said that economically “hopeless situations” can befall industrial giants, and so a similar strategy of “bridging” (in fear of  deindustrialization) was applied in Bor – only that the real fear of privatization was overcome, in part, thanks to a touristic “heritage industry”. Simultaneously, we could notice that cultural goods, in accordance with the transitional practices of the gray market, are “creatively” viewed as a “secondary raw material” suitable for recycling. This conceptual approach can be recognized, not only in every attempt at non-institutional instrumentalization, historical revision, revitalization, or reconfiguration of heritage, but also the occasional falter of heritage institutions on the waves of their modernization, renewal, and uncritical adoption of innovative technologies imposed by cultural industry agendas. Industrial heritage and the heritage industry, with their arsenal of control machines, are aimed at neglecting the workers’ culture, passivation of workers, and the workers’ organization, in order to achieve their final goal without resistance —privatization. Hence, the urgent need for a polemical view of the current situation, with the use of “contrast when scanning” our current situation, and these issues.


to be continued

Photographer: Markovic N. Mihailo
Photo documentation French Society of the Bor Mines. Collection of Ljuba Markov.
18 x 24 cm

COBISS.SR-ID512424632. Dostupno na:linku:


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Bulatović, Dragan. 2013. „Kriza muzejske proizvodnje identiteta.” U Muzeologija, nova muzeologija i nauka o baštini, ur. Angelina Milosavljević, 11–25. Beograd: Centar za muzeologiju i heritologiju Filozofskog fakulteta Univerziteta u Beogradu; Kruševac: Narodni muzej. Available at:

Bulatović, Dragan. 2015a. Od trezora do tezaurusa: teorija i metodologija izgradnje tezaurusa baštinjenja [e-book]. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet, Centar za muzeologiju i heritologiju. Acessed 10. 2. 2020.

Bulatović, Dragan. 2015b. „Studije baštine kao temelj očuvanja humanističkog obrazovanja.” Andragoške studije(1): 41–64.

Fuko, Mišel. 2007. Poredak diskursa. Loznica: Karpos. [Foucault, Michel. 1981. “The order of discourse,”  translated by Ian McLeod. In Untying the Text : a Poststructuralist Reader, ed. by R. Young, 48-78. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.]

Kostić, Cvetko. 1962. Bor i okolina: sociološka ispitivanja. Beograd: Savremena škola.

Миленковић, Милош. 2003. Проблем етнографски стварног : полемика о Самои у кризи етнографског реализма. Београд: Српски генеалошки центар.

Naumović, Slobodan. 2009. Upotreba tradicije u političkom i javnom životu Srbije na kraju dvadesetog i početkom dvadeset prvog veka. Beograd: Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju: „Filip Višnjić”.

Наумовић, Слободан. 2013. „Ресурс од кључног значаја: индустријско наслеђе Бора виђено из перспективе индустријске археологије, етнологије рударства, политичке антропологије и визуелне антропологије.” Добро је за мишљење али је компликовано за јело, ур. Драган Стојменовић,  75–111. Бор: Народна библиотека Бор.

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Dragan Stojmenović is local history librarian in Public Library Bor.
[3] One of the leaders at the beginning of the film “Man Is Not a Bird”, by Dušan Makavejev, dictates to journalists the report from the concert of the 4th movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which the choir and symphony orchestra performed in the company’s metallurgical plants on the occasion of the smelter.
[4] The author of the refrain and the title of the Bor “folk” song is Srba Stančić, first recited within a circle of friends in 2000. It was first filmed and performed publicly in the amateur film Op, mala op! by the Center for Informal Communication Nemušto (2001). The song was then developed, sung and arranged by the local band Duo trojica (2006) for the film Mining Opera (2006) by Oleg Novković and Milena Marković. The authors of the composition and the text under that title are Miroslav Mitrašinović and Saša D. Lović.
[5] This is due to the fact that the institutions for the preservation of cultural and historical Heritage in Bor– the Department of Historical Archives of Negotin; the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy; and the Public Library Bor–have their funds mainly based on local economic, geographical, and culturally historical specificities related to workers’ culture, workers’ movements and the industrial heritage since their establishment. As for the Public Library Bor, within its fund organization and systematization is its Local History Department, which collects, processes, preserves and makes available library material created in Bor, and whose authors were working or living in Bor; or which is thematically related to Bor and its surroundings, regardless of the place of origin,. The Library and the Archive collect, process, preserve and make use of this movable cultural heritage, while the Museum, in addition to the movable heritage, also takes care of the immovable cultural heritage. See more about the funds:;;
[6] A systematized and illustrated overview of the working-mining culture in Bor and its current state is available in the publication of Živka Romelić The Mining Culture in Bor: tradition as a stimulus, Bor 2017.
[7] Later in the text, the old and new locations of individual monuments and exhibits will be described in more detail, but for this note we will single out the relocations of Miner with a Drill, and the monument to trade unionist, Petar Radovanović, as the main symbols which have been moved from their original locations to the beginning or end of the new outdoor setting along the main streets in Bor. This will be discussed in more detail in the text. Both sculptures are currently on the newly built roundabouts: Miner with a Drill was placed on the Fourth Kilometer, while the monument to Petar Radovnović was placed on the conditionally said First Kilometer. Photos from the ceremonial rally on the occasion of the unveiling of the monument to Petar Radovanović on August 6, 1981 can be seen on the following link:
A photograph of the monument Miner with a drill or Bor miner, photographed at the original location in 1960  can be seen at the following link that is part of the catalog description:
[8] The initiator of the campaign for social responsibility “For a better Bor” is RTB-Bor. See example on the link:
[9] The division of the city into kilometers from the old surface mine (grope, hole, gaura or the commonly understood, zero kilometer) was probably conditioned by the first urban solutions that foresaw the further development of the city from the north to the south. The expansion of the colony began with the construction of the “New” or Southern Colony in 1928. At the end of the mid-20th century, Bor further developed urbanistically, generating the Second and Third kilometers, and by 1965, the Program of urban-technical conditions, for a detailed solution of the settlement on the III and IV kilometers in the city of Bor, formalized the framework zoning of the city. This division of the city is widely accepted in the informal communication of Bor’s natives, which, with the formation of the city cemetery at the 7th kilometer, produced a linear understanding of the development and life of the city and its citizens. There were several signs of this informal  zoning, one of which is on the fountain at the Second kilometer, which was marked after its construction in 2002. This linear concept was used in the amateur film Op, mala op, Surface Mine!, 2001; 0 KM, 2012: an exhibition of photographs by Hervé Dez, Marija Janković and Vladimir Radivojević; and most recently, Eighth kilometer: Survey competition, 2020/21, that will represent Serbia at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021, led by Iva Bekić.
See more about the exhibition Zero kilometer:
More about the Eighth kilometer project:   
[10] A native ethnologist (ethnographer or anthropologist) is brought up in the culture or environment that they study and to which they belong. (See more in: Milenković, M. 2003, pp. 255 – 259)
[11] Also referred to as reflexive anthropology from Jean Rouch. The concept of collaborative (shared) anthropology in this context arose from a kind of “digressive search”, which is not programmed (with previously established goals) or opportunistic (unexpected or coinciding with events without adequate understanding), but complementary, to fill segments that contribute to modern understanding of photographing and presenting a certain environment. (On digressive search, see more in: Sorenson and Jablonko 2014, 71–80). It was used to emphasize the importance of researchers’ cooperation with the community they study and community members’ participation in the realization and presentation of research results.
[12] The First and Second phases of the construction and reconstruction of the mine were preceded by two five-year plans from 1947-57, when the program of the first phase was adopted and launched, within which new equipment for pit and surface ore exploitation was procured. The transport of mineral raw materials was modernized. A new ore warehouse was built to meet the capacity of the mine to expand to the one in Majdanpek (which started operating in 1961): equipped with five fry furnaces, a new flame furnace and three large converters. A dam was also built to create a new artificial accumulation of industrial water – Lake Bor. A new sulfuric acid factory was also built, simultaneously with the super phosphate factory in Prahovo. The first phase was completed in 1961. The second phase began in 1966, immediately after the economic reform of 1965, which expanded the production capacities of sulfuric acid and precious metals in Bor and Majdanpek. The Bor-Majdanpek railway was built, alongside a new ore transport system, a new electrolysis, a foundry of precious metals, a new smelter, and two more sulfuric acid factories. The second phase of construction and reconstruction lasted until 1971. (See more: Erić, 1975, 113–130)
[13] Opening of the Park Museum in 1997 in Bor (settings of the Technical Collection of the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy in Bor) Author of photos: Ljubomir Markov. See more on the following link:
[14] On the occasion of marking the fiftieth anniversary of the mine, a celebration was organized at which the first miners were solemnly sent to a well-deserved retirement. Plaques and letters of thanks were awarded to deserving miners, including Paun Meždinović. See more on the following link:
[15] The phrase was created by merging the concept of the notion of the non-place of Marc Augé and the feelings of the author of the text, brought up towards important characters from the films of Wim Wenders. The inspiration for this “liberating” phrase can be found in Marc Augé’s anthropological essay The Near and the Elsewhere.
[16] “Preservation has two faces: material (treasury) and reflexive (thesaurus). The distinction is actually drawn by the so-called boundaries of memory – representative (monuments) carriers of documentaries (sources of truth) – and they are embodied in national, state apparatus-protected, cultural vaults. The reflective face has the role of a window into the vault. Through which, every bearer of new life stares into or, to concretize, every material and spiritual activity that arises because of forgetfulness, works in favor of the adoption of a common linguistic and, consequently, lexical fund – thesaurus forgets to permanently preserve the cultural values ​​of the past. ” (Bulatović, 2015, p. 48)
[17] Part of the refrain of a newly composed song performed by folk singer Mitar Mirić. Translation: “no one can do anything to us, we are stronger than fate.”
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