In September 1919, women from various regions within the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes converged in Belgrade for the inaugural gathering of what would soon evolve into the National Council of Women. Established in 1919, the NCW marked a pioneering effort as the first nationwide union of numerous women’s organizations throughout the country, and it was affiliated with the International Council of Women. (Kecman, 1978; Ograjšek Gorenjak, 2020; Grubački and Selišnik, 2022). During the 1919 assembly, women from diverse social and ideological backgrounds engaged in a shared dialogue, reflecting upon their past activist experiences and contemplating their roles in the emerging postwar landscape. While they sought common ground, it was evident that these women brought with them distinct ideas and approaches, including those related to Yugoslavism (Feldman, 2022).

Drawing on the 1919 NCW congress as both a case study and a useful starting point, this paper explores the varied approaches to Yugoslavism that were prevalent among women activists in the early postwar period. Specifically, I use the congress notes as sources for identification of four versions of Yugoslavism which were present at the time. The aim of the presentation is twofold. Firstly, I contend that examining this source is valuable through the lens of the history of political thought in the region, and that this approach can enhance our understanding of women’s intellectual history in the postwar context. Secondly, I argue that the 1919 congress offers a useful starting point for a more comprehensive understanding of the type of Yugoslavism that would become central to the self-identified feminist movement in Yugoslavia, which would take shape in the years following the NCW congress.


Isidora Grubački (Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana) is a historian focusing on contemporary European history, specializing in the fields of transnational women’s history and intellectual history of feminism in the interwar period. Her doctoral dissertation, titled Political Transformations of Interwar Feminisms: The Case of Yugoslavia, has been submitted to Central European University in Vienna in 2023. She was a visiting researcher in various institutions in Ljubljana, Paris, Prague, Zagreb, and Cambridge, and has been involved in several research networks, including Cost Action Who Cares in Europe? and Intellectual History in East Central Europe. Since 2021, she works as a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History in Ljubljana and is currently a member of the team of ERC project The History of Feminist Political Thought and Women’s Rights Discourses in East Central Europe 1929-2001 (HERESSEE), hosted at the University of Vienna.