Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2050-9790
  • E-ISSN: 2050-9804



In the nineteenth century, the bourgeois elites of newly minted national capitals Belgrade and Sofia sought to produce ‘European’ urban space, their first step on a path to industrial modernity and a new relationship with the world. When such designs failed, their execution left real, devastating material consequences. This article explores the underside of elite dreams through Milutin Uskoković’s Newcomers (1910). Set in 1906 Belgrade, the novel’s tragic form emphasizes the futility of bourgeois aspirations on the periphery of global capital. I expand on such themes through archival sources, which consistently describe the post-Ottoman city as a landscape of dispossession. Ultimately, I argue that urban modernity has historically been informed by failed elite dreams and their resulting urban nightmares, particularly in spaces off-centre to capitalist flows.


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