Anitsa Savikj-Rebats was born on October 4, 1982 in Novi Sad. Through her work promoting the emancipation of women in the Balkans, she succeeded in connecting the local with the global narratives in the first half of the 20th century. She is one of the most notable Serbian writers in the female cannon of Serbia and Yugoslavia. After obtaining a B.A. majoring in Classical Philology in Vienna, she worked as a professor at the University of Belgrade. As the wife of a Bosnian diplomat, Hasan Rebats, of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia with the post in Skopje, she spent a large part of her life there publishing articles in the media, writing books, corresponding with the contemporary worldwide renowned writers, in particular those who were oppressed by the Nazi Germany regime, e.g. Thomas Mann. She organized the intellectual and cultural life in Skopje advocating the emancipation of the contemporary woman. When she moved to Skopje in 1930, she lived on “Kralitsa Mariya” street, no. 3. (today Ilindenska Street) and taught at the High School for Girls. Later on, engaged by the Faculty of Philosophy, she worked as the Professor of Latin, thereby becoming the first female professor at the Faculty. From 1933 to 1936, she served as the President of the Association of Female Writers of the Anti-Fascist Front of Women. She translated philosophical works from the classical languages and wrote copious essays and studies. She had an exceptionally strong bond with her husband, in particular at the time his health seriously deteriorated due to a severe disease. Soon after he died, Anitsa Savikj-Rebats ended her own life by suicide, on October 7, 1953 in Belgrade.
Anitsa Savikj-Rebats was a woman ahead of her time, both professionally and privately. In her private life, she experimented with love, while in sex, she reexamined the spousal and moral norms of her time. In her professional life, she was involved in a transnational correspondence with many notable women, among others, the English feminist and travel writer Rebecca West. She was also interested in the history and ethnography of the Yugoslav peoples, especially folk customs of the Macedonians and the role of women in them. Anitsa Savikj-Rebats was engaged in a long-standing correspondence with West, whose interest in these topics she piqued, whereupon the latter started studying the languages of the Yugoslav peoples and organized a travel expedition to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, where she studied the customs observed “from Triglav to Gevgeliya”. West spent a lot of time both in Skopje, as well as traveling throughout Macedonia. Together with Anitsa, they visited the cult stone of fertility in Ovche Pole, “Govedar Kamen”, where lamb sacrificial offerings were made as a “remedy for infertility”. Also, together they studied the local customs. A well-known travelogue of Rebecca West entitled “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia” (1941) was dedicated to Rebats (“To my friends in Yugoslavia, who are all dead now or enslaved”). The book poignantly describes the important places in Skopje and Macedonia West had visited, and Anitsa is referred to as “Militsa”.
Selected quote: Inspired by the local history of Govedar Kamen, together they started studying the position of women in folk rites and customs related to fertility. In the words of Svetlana Slapshak, by virtue of their joint research, they have invented the historical discipline of anthropology before their time.
In the midst of the flat Ovche Pole, to the left of the village of Erdjeliya, rises a huge boulder in the lore known as Govedar Kamen (Cow Herder Stone) or “the symbol of female joy”. Every year on St. George’s Day (May 5th-6th), around the stone gather locals of various ethnic backgrounds and perform rituals. The village is accessible by car from Sveti Nikole or on foot/by bike from the village of Erdjeliya. The location is not accessible for people with a physical disability.