What Pazar has in Common(s)? explores the tools and opportunities Novi Pazar (a 60.000 inhabitant city in Sandžak, in the southwest of Serbia, with majority Muslim population) may use to redefine its common good today. It is based on an extensive round of talks with urban planners, engineers, architects, journalists, civil society and religious organizations members, cultural activists, politicians from Novi Pazar. It is not without reason that this city might lend itself as an intriguing starting point to explore the perspectives for the constitution of new common goods: its centuries long history has largely been based on collective property. Up to one-third of the city was collectively initiated, owned and governed – something that would make it a pioneer if it would be taking place today. Now, it is in urgent need for a redefinition of its collectivity.

The reason behind its unique position is two particular twists of history. Novi Pazar, founded in 1461 by Ottoman general Isa-Beg Isaković, has developed for most of its history (until 1912) within the social, economic and legal constructs of the Ottoman Empire. In this context, important parts of cities (bridges, mosques, schools, water supply, early forms of social housing, …) were developed through donations (‘Vakif’) that were managed by small associations while the land supporting all of this had no private ownership but belonged to the empire. After 1912, this unique situation would cease for a couple of decades.

In 1946, with the establishment of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, collective (societal) property was quickly returned – albeit on strictly non-religious grounds. In this period, Novi Pazar experienced a renaissance, this time not as an Ottoman, but rather as a modernist town. Workers-owned factories would invest in large reconstruction of the town, and would for instance construct its main cultural infrastructure (Workers University) in the heart of town. The two recent decades starting from the 1990s however, with its rapturous and fraud privatisations programs that followed the demise of Yugoslavia, brought much of this collective property in despair, and violently discredited the concept of societal investments, management and ownership.

Its history left Novi Pazar with a few quirks. Until January 1st, 2012, the city did not posses a unified register of private property. Something like that simply had not been necessary to successfully develop and manage the city. But most importantly, this quickly growing city (currently the third-largest in Serbia, and one of the few growing cities in this region) seems to be bewildered how to conceive itself in current times. With little resources left, the only investments into collective structures seem to be in primordial infrastructure. Everything else is on the grab (through privatization, or the restitution of property nationalized after 1946), in dysfunction, or simply lacks.

With What Pazar has in Common(s)? a history of the emergence and discappearance of systems of common property has been sketched. But it does not stop there. Having the historic reality at hand, and the current situation in front, it has embarked on a search to find new perspectives for the constitution of common goods through discussions with many of the actors in today’s development of the city. A search that has been captured in a publication and that could form the base to discuss a more resilient, more democratic city.

  • [team ] STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen) and Emil Jurcan (Pulska grupa), with Urban-In (Aida Ćorović, Sead Biberović, Ešref Džanefendić, Sadija Džanefendić), Nebojša Milikić and Centar_kuda.org.
  • [design ] Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen (STEALTH.unlimited) and Emil Jurcan (Pulska grupa)
  • [ conversations in Novi Pazar ] Jasna Škrijelj (urbanist, Institute of Urbanism), Sonja Dragović (civil engineer, Alfa projekt), Marina Nićiforović and Vladan Vidosavljević (conservator and archaeologist, Museum Ras), Mulaz Dacić (developer, Dacić prom), Mithad Smailbegović (architect, director of the Institute of Urbanism), Elvir Hamidović (city architect), Amra Jejna (editor, Cultural Centre Novi Pazar), Enver Ujkanović, Hivzo Gološ and Albin Škrijelj (orientalist and archive advisors, Historical Archive), Seljahudin Muratović (director, Municipal Construction Authority), Mithad Nokić (president, Green Ecologic Party), Naser Mihović (urbanist, Institute of Urbanism), Fahir Hamzagić (lawyer, Islamic Community in Serbia), Ramiz Crnišanin (retired politician), Slađana Novosel (journalist, daily Danas), Šefćet Zatrić (architect, State University in Novi Pazar).
  • [publisher ]  New Media Center _kuda.org, Novi Sad
  • [print ] Daniel Print, Novi Sad – January 2012, 500 copies
  • [background ] What Pazar has in Common(s)? is the third part of the Cities Log research series investigating the contemporary development of cities in the region of Post-Yugoslavia and Albania. The Cities Log has been initiated through a collaborative, regional project: Individual Utopia Now and Then, and is part of the program INtoOUTREACH, collectively realized by: New Media Center_kuda.org (Novi Sad), Cultural Center REX (Belgrade), Press to Exit (Skopje), STEALTH.unlimited (Belgrade/Rotterdam), in collaboration with: Cultural Center Zrenjanin, Generator (Vranje), National Library (Bor), Urban-In (Novi Pazar)
  • [support ] Fund for an Open Society, Serbia, the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society of the Republic of Serbia, and the City of Novi Sad
  • [timeline ] July 2011 – January 2012