The Belgrade Wall: The Proliferation of Gated Housing in the Serbian Capital after Socialism


In this article, we discuss the proliferation of gated housing in the Serbian capital of Belgrade since the end of state socialism in 1989. We argue that Belgrade offers insights into the phenomenon of gated housing that the rapidly burgeoning global literature on gated communities has thus far overlooked. Specifically, whereas the literature has focused on the gated community per se (i.e. on relatively large residential groupings to which outsider access is restricted), most gated housing in Belgrade is fenced off and securitized individually or in very small groups. Using qualitative data collected between 2007 and 2009, we suggest reasons for the popularity of gating in addition to those commonly cited in the literature (e.g. security and status). We point to Belgrade’s historic traditions in gated housing. We also discuss the uniqueness of the socialist and post‐socialist housing experience, and emphasize the importance of physical enclosure as a means of asserting private ownership and territoriality — spatial behaviors that were suppressed during socialism. Finally, since large Western‐style gated communities have only just emerged in Belgrade, we discuss the evolution of gating in the city, from a phenomenon with a local flavor to one that may share the features of gated communities around the world.