THE PARTISANS: Underground Printing in WW2 Yugoslavia

Friday, October 20, 2017
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

Please join the Njegos Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture at Columbia University’s East Central European Center and the Harriman Institute for a presentation by art historians Daša Pahor and Alex Johnson, proprietors of Antiquariat Daša Pahor in Munich, a boutique dealer of unusual printing, underground publications, rare broadsides, and separately issued maps and manuscripts.


The Yugoslav Partisans were the most successful resistance movement against the Axis occupation of
 Europe during World War II. During the four years of their existence they formed a complete underground society with their own distinct propaganda, social customs, visual culture, literature, performing arts, schools, legal and governmental systems, communication networks and methods of conducting guerrilla and conventional warfare. Amazingly, most of their publications were printed by clandestine, or underground, presses hidden from their enemies within occupied Yugoslavia. The corpus of their surviving prints is diverse, highly sophisticated in content, and often of considerable artistic virtue. These pamphlets, broadsides and newssheets were of an ephemeral nature, often published by unusual printing techniques, and are today rare, many exceedingly so.

This presentation will demystify the inherently secretive world of Yugoslavian Partisan Underground printing for the first time to a Western audience, showcasing actual examples of some of the rarest and most important works. It promises to entertain and intellectually engage, as well as to reveal ingenious and authentic expressions of the human condition during one of the most trying and dramatic periods in history.

About the Speakers

Daša Pahor and Alex Johnson are a husband and wife team and are the proprietors of Antiquariat Daša Pahor based in Munich, Germany, a boutique dealer specialized in unusual printing, underground publications, rare broadsides, and separately issued maps and manuscripts. Both Daša and Alex are academic art historians and historians by background and apply their passion for research to the objects they purvey. Antiquariat Daša Pahor’s assists institutions on five continents with developing archives of unusual, yet historically important, works.

Daša Pahor (*1977 in Slovenia) holds a Ph.D. in History of Art from the University of Ljubljana. Her doctoral thesis analyzed the Tradition of the Gothic Architecture in the 16th and 17th Centuries in Slovenia. A recognized expert on art, architecture and print culture, Daša’s primary fields of interest include the Balkans and South-Eastern Europe. In the last few years, Daša had built upon her life-long fascination with the Yugoslav Partisans to assemble collections of Partisan Underground printing, unrivalled in their quality and size, for institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. In the process, she has made many new discoveries, gaining insights that have a profound impact upon the overall appreciation of the field.

Alexander (“Alex”) Johnson (*1977 in Canada) holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Exeter, England, and is an international authority on cartography, in particular the mapping of the former British Empire. He is the author of The First Mapping of America: The General Survey of British North America (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017) and co-author (with Dr. Vivek Nanda) of Cosmography to Cartography: A Cultural Journey of Indian Maps (Hyderabad, January 2018). Aside from cartography, one of Alex’s key fields of interest is unusual printing techniques and clandestine printing, leading to his particular fascination with Partisan Underground publishing. As a natural ‘storyteller’, he has done much to place the recent discoveries in the field within their proper historical narrative.