Conflict, Violence and Memory NUBS 2.05
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.4. Dynamics of exclusion and inclusion in post-conflict remembrance in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Only a few days following the MSA 2023 Conference, the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide will take place. This tragedy, whose facts have long been established by investigations of the ICTY, just like war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the municipality of Prijedor in 1992, are still routinely questioned by Serb-nationalist authorities of Republika Srpska, one of the two entities into which the country is divided. The contested nature of post-conflict narratives and denial of memories and experiences of the Other reminds us that remembrance in places affected by conflict is shaped and reshaped long after violence has ceased. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, this complex memory is structured around divisive memory politics that, over the years, has morphed into homogenizing ethnonationalist viewpoints.In the private sphere, whether that of the diaspora or of families who stayed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, other issues are emerging. The painful legacy of war is transmitted differently from one family to another. For those to whom the traumatic stories of concentration camps, forced migration, and violence have been transmitted, the difficult question of belonging and personal role in keeping memories of victims alive, invariably arises.Many counter-memory initiatives illustrate the path chosen by activists to ensure that the memory of those who are gone is kept alive in space and time. Through artistic projects or performative actions, on site or online, they try to fill the void of a deficient collective memory and create space for narratives of the Other. Yet, while successfully challenging the denial of genocide and crimes, these counter-memorial initiatives still fall victim to dominant ethnonationalist patterns that perpetuate a single vict ...

NUBS 2.05 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
30 attendees saved this session

Only a few days following the MSA 2023 Conference, the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide will take place. This tragedy, whose facts have long been established by investigations of the ICTY, just like war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the municipality of Prijedor in 1992, are still routinely questioned by Serb-nationalist authorities of Republika Srpska, one of the two entities into which the country is divided. The contested nature of post-conflict narratives and denial of memories and experiences of the Other reminds us that remembrance in places affected by conflict is shaped and reshaped long after violence has ceased. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, this complex memory is structured around divisive memory politics that, over the years, has morphed into homogenizing ethnonationalist viewpoints.
In the private sphere, whether that of the diaspora or of families who stayed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, other issues are emerging. The painful legacy of war is transmitted differently from one family to another. For those to whom the traumatic stories of concentration camps, forced migration, and violence have been transmitted, the difficult question of belonging and personal role in keeping memories of victims alive, invariably arises.
Many counter-memory initiatives illustrate the path chosen by activists to ensure that the memory of those who are gone is kept alive in space and time. Through artistic projects or performative actions, on site or online, they try to fill the void of a deficient collective memory and create space for narratives of the Other. Yet, while successfully challenging the denial of genocide and crimes, these counter-memorial initiatives still fall victim to dominant ethnonationalist patterns that perpetuate a single victim narrative.
Chaired by Johanna Paul, a doctoral student from Bielefeld University who works on White Armband Day commemoration in Prijedor and the Prijedor Diaspora, this panel brings together perspectives from several on-going research projects related to Bosnia-Herzegovina that address diverse dynamics of inclusion and exclusion of collective memory and commemoration practices at different levels of inquiry, as well as their implications for post-conflict reconciliation and social belonging.



Ajla Henić, Research Associate and PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Business, Economics & Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg; Dijana Mujkanović, PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh

Competitive Victimhood: Homogenization and Appropriation

Abstract: In post-conflict societies, collective memory and victim remembrance is co-opted by narratives of competitive victimhood. Victimhood is thereby defined along narrow lines, such that they present a homogenous image of the victim and the society that constituted the prewar community. This homogenization process simultaneously excludes those who do not match hegemonic narratives of victimhood, such as members of other national, religious and ethnic identities, as well as the appropriation of identities of those who perished, turning their victimhood invisible. In so doing, the right to remembrance and the healing processes of those who survived are denied. Based on the case study of Prijedor in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we examine these processes and dynamics from a critical perspective. As a city positioned in the northwest of the country, Prijedor today is part of Republika Srpska, one of two entities established by the Dayton Peace Agreement that is heavily dominated by ethnonationalist forces. The exclusion of non-Serb civilian victims from commemoration by the official narrative of Republika Srpska has generated an environment where, in order to affirm and gain recognition for those victims, counternarratives also engage in processes of exclusion and victim homogenization. To counter denialist narratives, the dominant Bosniak narrative thus becomes an idealized image of a victim who is almost exclusively Bosniak. This image is further homogenized so that the victim representation is not just of any Bosnia, but rather one who is male, religious, and infallible. Such simplification and idealization can even fall into the trap of reaffirming perpetrator narratives by presenting Bosniak victims as religious martyrs rather than innocent civilians and, almost inevitably, excludes the broad diversity of narratives of Bosniak and non-Bosniak victims.

Keywords: collective memory, homogenization of victims/victimhood, perpetrator studies, countermemory.


Emina Zoletic, PhD candidate at Doctoral School of Social Science, sociology, University of Warsaw and research fellow at CEFRES center Prague and Bucerius Ph.D. Fellow "Beyond Borders"

Intergenerational transmission of the memory of war among families

Abstract: Research on the transmission of war memory is of great significance for sociology, psychology, and memory studies, particularly for understanding the post-war social context of family memory. Intergenerational family stories contain morally instructive messages, and storytelling contributes to the formation of an individual's identity by combining lived experiences with meaning-making processes. This paper is part of my doctoral project, and the project considers specific legacies of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the case of the city of Sarajevo. The memories of that war continue to evolve, with largely unknown consequences for collective competing narratives, social cohesion, and identity. This research focuses on the intergenerational transmission of memory of the war in Sarajevo, exploring its sources and mechanisms. Young adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war may find it hard to understand their family history and place it (and themselves) in meaningful relationships because of how collective war memories are passed down. This paper provides an overview of interdisciplinary literature on the subject of intergenerational transmission of war memories among families. Evidence of specific intergenerational transmission of memory is scattered over a landscape of numerous disciplines, with variations in methodology and approaches. I take into consideration methodological issues and give new ideas about this field.

Keywords : Intergenerational transmission, war memories, family memory, literature review


Amina Hadziomerovic, PhD Student, Center for Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Brokered Memories: Narrating, Imag(in)ing and Embodying the Memories of the Bosnian Missing in Diaspora

Abstract: In the era of hectic migrations and lingering legacies of traumatic pasts that prompted the move, we are encountering a 'transnational turn' in memory studies. However, the majority of these studies are concerned with re-territorialisation of public monuments, collective performances and globalising memory politics, while forgetting an individual. In this paper, I investigate how the memory of the missing persons from the Bosnian genocide has been framed, enacted, forged, and relayed among surviving families in the diaspora. In the absence of a body to be buried, families rely on alternative forms of memory performance through which they keep their beloved ones present and honoured in their everyday lives. In the study, I focus on personal effects and intimate archives; the relational and performative qualities as well as affective experiences embedded within the photographs and narratives of the missing. The data for this paper has been collected through my ethnographic engagement with Bosnian refugees resettled in Melbourne (Australia) and St. Louis (USA). Through ethnographic readings of the use of photographs and mediated narratives in remembering the missing, I demonstrate the human capacity to forge closure where it contradicts reason. I also highlight the conductivity of these mnemonic devices through which a post-generation embodies and identifies with the ancestral trauma of genocide. The findings from this paper re-visit the importance of materiality in the service of memory, through which the loss is mediated, transformed, transmitted and embraced. I argue that closer engagement with personal(ised) means and modes of shaping the cultural memory of violence can foster a better understanding of its emotional reverberations and impact on the healing of post-conflict societies. This study has also implications for a better understanding of various ways how war-induced diaspora remembers and reconstitutes their identities in relation to the loss of home, family and sense of belonging.

Keywords : postmemory, missing persons, transnational memory, diaspora, counter-memory


Véronique Labonté, PhD Candidate, Graduate School of International Studies, Université Laval, Québec, Canada


Polyphonic counter-memory initiatives in Bosnia : Toward an ethical culture of remembrance?

Abstract: In Bosnia and Herzegovina, memory activists have engaged since the end of the war to critique official memory politics that feed tensions and divisions. Foucault's definition of counter-memory has often been taken up by those putting emphasis on the confrontation of official memories with those of the oppressed voices. But, as Veronica Tello suggests, we can also observe counter-memory in a polyphonic way through the idea of the and-and, that is, an accumulation of memorial narratives and fragments rather than their dialectical opposition. This contemporary understanding of counter-memory can also be qualified as polyphonic as the multiplicity of narratives about the past enhance a plural and more intimate memory to emerge in the public space. In this paper, I present two polyphonic counter-memory initiatives that have emerged from post-conflict Bosnia. First, the War Childhood Museum was born from a simple question launch on a web platform by Jasminko Halilovic : "What was a war childhood for you?" The exhibition crafted from those personal stories and artefacts ultimately represents an original counter-memorial space in a country where everything is still divided along ethnocultural lines. By its very nature, the museum is apolitical by refusing to identify the perpetrators and by giving back their voices to the youngest victims of the war. In a second example, the initiative 'marking unmarked places of suffering' by the Center for Non-Violent Action addresses the specific problem of commemoration. By showing how each group glorifies its victims while erasing the experience of the others, the memory activists want to create a new space for dialogue through an onsite and website performative work. Both examples succeeded to demonstrate how counter-memory initiatives can creatively overcome divisions and develop an ethical culture of remembrance where victims are no longer used to exclude but to fuel a necessary discussion on the future of remembrance in BiH.

Keywords : counter-memory, memory activists


PhD Candidate and Researcher
,
University of Hamburg
PhD Candidate
,
University of Pittsburgh
PhD candidate
,
University of Warsaw
PhD Student
,
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Phd candidate
,
Université Laval
Research Associate
,
Bielefeld University
 Sarah Grandke
PhD candidate
,
University of Regensburg
Upcoming Sessions
437 visits