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Abstract

The violent demise of Yugoslavia and the bloody period that marked most of the 1990s in this region have sparked academic interest in the peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives which emerged after the conflict. Scholarly literature on the subject went in the directions of transitional justice, social psychology and socio-political approaches. However, an unexplored alley of scholarly interest remains in the role of the arts in these processes. By examining the role of arts and memory creation, this introductory article posits these against the background of a problematic reconciliation process in post-conflict areas of the Western Balkans as its core topic. Situated in a post-Yugoslav geographic space, where ethnic conflicts still hinder development, people rest much on the interpretation of the meaning of lived experiences, and the role of images, arts, myths and stories, which are used to either create or dissemble the path to peace between the many ethnic communities that inhabit this area of Europe. The use of several overlapping, yet differently interpreted themes relating to lived experiences and history shows them as symbolic transitional justice policies. They broadly deal with how such knowledges are interpreted through lived moments, such as cinema, museums and public monuments.

Free access
In: Southeastern Europe

Abstract

This article examines the role, status and perceptions of the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo from both Kosovo Albanian and Serbian perspectives. The analysis focuses on two cases, which attracted particular resistance on each of the two sides: the passing of legislation in the Kosovar parliament in 2012 that aimed to protect Serbian cultural heritage and the 2015 unsuccessful Kosovo bid for unesco membership. Both moments demonstrate how cultural heritage is primarily approached from the statehood perspective and used to additionally deepen inter-ethnic distances. The authors shed more light on the discrepancies between the international peacebuilding efforts and the internationally imposed legal framework, challenging the reduction of the peacebuilding efforts to institutional design, while dominant discourses of both Serbian and Albanian elites essentially deepen the enmity and serve as resistance mechanisms to the international peacebuilding strategies.

In: Southeastern Europe
Free access
In: Southeastern Europe
Author: Sarina Bakić

Abstract

The author of this article will put an emphasis on museum practices that have encouraged the reconciliation process and dialogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans. Moreover, this article will contribute to the ongoing discussions in museum and cultural studies expressing the need for reconsidering the values and roles of museum practices. It is about the comprehensive range of innovative approaches that can foster dialogue and reconciliation processes in the context of today’s Western Balkans societies, which are marked by distrust, prejudices, misunderstandings and numerous divisions and indoctrinations. This will be an attempt to verify two clear examples of museum practices emphasising the specific thesis about museums as the ‘new educational institutions’, their comprehensive and alternative roles in the construction of ‘new knowledge’ nurturing dialogue, intercultural interactions and exchange of opinions, ideas and experiences. The main question is whether this concept is sustainable and broadly possible in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans, due to the lack of cultural policy and political consensus that will support this indispensable process.

In: Southeastern Europe
Author: Sanja Kajinić

Abstract

In the early 1990s, the cultural landscape of Croatia went through radical changes, one of them being the destruction of the monuments built under socialism. Drawing on the author’s research on the monuments in the capital city of Zagreb, and on the existing research on the politics of memory in the broader post-Yugoslav region, this article asks about the disappearance of the monuments to partisan women in contemporary Zagreb. The main research question regards the gender dimension of the under-representation of women in public space. The hypothesis is that egalitarian gender relations, analyzed here through memorial representation, are important for the democratization of post-socialist societies. Additional focus is on ethnic belonging as an influential explanatory category in accounting for the disappearance of monuments to minority women in contemporary Croatia. The article adds a new empirical vantage point to help better understand the comparative framework of how the socialist past is remembered through monuments.

In: Southeastern Europe

Abstract

This article argues that contemporary post-Yugoslav cinema contributes to a better understanding of the deeply divided societies in the aftermath the Yugoslav Wars (1991–2001), in terms of stimulating empathy for the Other, and, more specifically, raising awareness of the loss of human lives, thus memorializing and commemorating these experiences. It also explores how film directors deal with social issues, including war crimes, and how they appear as activist citizens while their governments struggle to take relevant action. The research aims to bridge the gap between the more theoretical literature that focuses on the role of the media in dealing with the past and more practical analysis providing examples from contemporary post-Yugoslav cinema, and to illuminate the link between film, peace-building and active citizenship. Finally, the article stresses how the idea of post-war reconciliation may be communicated through films and pertains to the notion that a positive film effect exists.

In: Southeastern Europe