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University of California, San Diego

Bucerius Fieldwork Grant

The (Re)Making of Young Patriots: Shaping Childhood Experience Through Education, Media, and Children’s Literature in Post-Yugoslav Croatia and Serbia (1991-2000)


During and after the breakup of Yugoslavia, the most violent conflict in Europe since the Second World War, children who garnered the overwhelming majority of media attention as quintessential victims also played a vital role in the nation-building processes of the two largest successor states, Croatia and Serbia. This research project focuses on the complex, and at this point almost completely unexplored, use of children and childhood in inculcating the nationalist ideology of these states into the minds of the youngest generations, and their transformation into “ideal” Croatian or Serbian (as opposed to Yugoslav) citizens after Yugoslavia’s demise (1991-2000). Combining various disciplinary approaches from historical analysis to media studies and sociology, the project examines the role of the main pro-regime media, national curricula, and also the seemingly unrelated domain of children’s literature in attempting to fulfill this process.

Ivana Polić is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at University of California San Diego. She holds a Master’s Degree in History and English Language and Literature (Teaching Track) from University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is currently a visiting fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at Karl Franzens University in Graz. Her research interests focus on post-1945 history of Southeastern Europe, with emphasis on the history of childhood and importance of children for nation-building.

2018: “Testing the Limits of Manipulation: Children as Propaganda Tools in Serbian and Croatian Media During the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1995),ˮ Remembrance & Solidarity. Studies in 20th-century European History, no. 6 (May 2018): 103-121.

2018: “Balkan Politicians Exploit Children for Political Advantage,” Balkan Insight, November 1, 2018,

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