Jovan Ritopecki's Photographic Documentation of Yugoslav Workers in Austria

Speaker: Vida Bakondy (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften)

    From the 1970s onwards the Yugoslav photo reporter Jovan Ritopečki (1923-1989) started documenting the life of Yugoslav migrants in Austria over a period of two decades. Today his photographic legacy comprises around 19.000 negatives and several hundred prints on the topic, as well as newspaper clippings and reports.

    Ritopečki not only sold the photographs to diverse media who targeted Yugoslav migrants in Austria, but also to migrant associations and individuals. Today, his photographs still circulate among members of the ex-Yugoslav community. This indicates that the people pictured in his photographs considered Jovan Ritopečki’s images as valid representations of themselves and their contexts. Ritopečki was himself a member of the Yugoslav community. This fact meant that he moved with ease among the group at the centre of this study. He possessed linguistic and cultural skills and had social networks at his disposal. The project explores whether and how this ’insider perspective’ was reflected in his pictures. The historical working conditions and contexts in which Ritopečki operated constitute a further level of analysis, as well as the history of the circulation and social use of his images and their reception. This will enable insights into the social and cultural embedding and communicative function of his photographs.

    The presentation will give insights into the historical work with a photographic legacy, present preliminary results from the evaluation of the sources and discuss methodological approaches.


    Vida Bakondy, historian and currently FWF Hertha Firnberg Postdoc-Fellow at the Institute of Habsburg and Balkan Studies/Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna with the project Picturing Migrants` Lives.

    Participation in numerous projects dealing with the history of labour migration from Yugoslavia and Turkey, e.g. project researcher in the exhibition project Gastarbajteri. 40 Jahre Arbeitsmigration (2004, Wien Museum), project researcher (2012-2015) in the FWF-funded project Deprovincializing Contemporary Austrian History. Migration and the transnational challenges to national historiographies (approx. 1960 to today), 2015-2016 head of the project Migration Sammeln. She was curator of the exhibitions Geteilte Geschichte. Viyana – Beč – Wien (Wien Museum, 10.2017-02.2018, together with Gerhard Milchram) and Nach der Flucht. Aus Ex-Jugoslawien nach Wien. Geschichten von Geflüchteten (Hauptbücherei am Gürtel, 15.9.-14.11.2020, together with Amila  Širbegović)

    Join Zoom Meeting

    Meeting ID: 884 0894 1379

    Passcode: 7fJuVb

    Am 16.03.2021, 13:00 h

    Venue: Graz

    Graz BranchYugoslaviaMedia