The Dialectics of Displacement and Emplacement
Henrik Vigh and Jesper Bjarnesen
Rethinking Resistance to Transitional Justice
Briony Jones and Thomas Brudholm
Post-Conflict Dynamics in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Identities, Nationalization, and Missing Bodies
Encountering the Missing in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina
In many armed conflicts, forced disappearances and hiding the bodies of victims of mass atrocities are used strategically. This article argues that disappearances are powerful weapons, as their consequences reach from the most intimate relations to the formation of political communities. Consequently, political projects of forced disappearances leave difficult legacies for post-conflict reconciliation, and they give rise to a need to address individuals’ and families’ needs as well as relations between national and political groups implicated in the conflict. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this articles explores the question of missing persons in post-1992 Bosnia. The processes of identification and practices of remembering and commemorating the missing are analyzed through the concept of liminality. The article argues that the future-oriented temporality of liminality gives rise to numerous practices of encountering the enigma of the missing, while the political atmosphere of postwar Bosnia restricts possibilities of communitas-type relationality across ethnonational differences.
From “Predicaments of Mobility” to “Potentialities in Displacement”
Stephen C. Lubkemann
In this article I draw comparatively on ethnographic material from my work with war-affected populations from postcolonial Mozambique and diasporan Liberia to argue for a fundamental shift in the conceptualization and study of displacement. I argue first for a need to shift from an emphasis on physical mobility as the sine qua non of “displacement,” to an empirical investigation of the less-than-self-evident relationship between physical mobility and social mobility. I illustrate how the meanings and outcomes of physical mobility are far from given but must be treated as an empirical problem, in which the social opportunity structures that cultural agents ultimately navigate are reconfigured in complex, contradictory, and inadvertent ways that simultaneously generate new and socially differentiated challenges as well as opportunities.
From Practice to Mediation
Antonius C. G. M. Robben
The Being and Becoming of Burundian Refugees in the Camp and the City
Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Burundian refugees living clandestinely in Nairobi and living in a refugee camp in Tanzania, the article argues that displacement can be about staying out of place in order to find a place in the world in the future. I suggest that the term dia-placement describes this sense of not only being out of place but also being en route to a future. Burundians in the camp and the city are doing their best to remain out of place, in transition between a lost past and a future yet to come, and the temporary nature of their sojourn is maintained in everyday practices. Such everyday practices are policed by powerful actors in the camp and are ingrained in practices of self-discipline in Nairobi. Comparing the two settings demonstrates that remaining out of place can take on different forms, according to context.
Legal Rupture in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Mikael Baaz and Mona Lilja
An increasing body of literature focuses on negotiations of transitional justice, but not much has been written so far regarding contestations over its practices and the refusal of states and individuals to participate. Given the remaining legalistic dominance, this is particularly true regarding the field of international criminal law. Very little, if any, work in international criminal law engages with the topic of “resistance.” Departing from this gap in research, focusing on Cambodia and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the objective of this article is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the “strategy of rupture”—as developed by the late French lawyer Jacques Vergès—and the ways in which this legal defense has been applied in practice at the ECCC in order to resist not only the Tribunal per se, but also the entire Cambodian transitional justice process and, by extension, the post–Cold War global liberal project.
Everyday Ethnic Identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Structurally inspired anthropological analyses of war and violence tend to claim that conflicts have an inherent potential to create unambiguous identities. Based on ethnographic data from everyday life among the Muslim population of Stolac in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina the article shows that this is not necessarily the case. Instead of resorting to the politically created dichotomous categories of ethnic exclusion, the Muslims of Stolac favored ambiguous identifications highlighting coexistence and interethnic respect. In this way of refraining from exclusive ethnic antagonistic identifications they experimented with ways of inhabiting the world together with the ethnic others; mainly the Croat population of Stolac.
Brazilian Conflicts and the Popular Culture of Sovereignty
This article explores the aesthetic elements of sovereignty. Building on the anthropological literature on sovereignty and on contemporary work on the politics of aesthetics, the article analyzes contemporary appearances of Batman symbols and figures in Rio de Janeiro. Despite political debate and academic discussion about the Batmen appearing in mafia-like militias and popular street protests in Rio, the question of what these appearances tell us about the relations between popular imagery and political contestation has remained untouched. This article supports the work of writers who argue that superhero comics and movies present fierce figures that operate in the zone of indistinction, at the crossroads of lawful order and its exception. However, it adds to this literature an analysis that shows in what kind of sociopolitical contexts these figures operate and how that plays itself out. To understand the contemporary appearances and force of figures of the entertainment industry better, this article proposes the concept “popular culture of sovereignty.”