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Liminality and Missing Persons

Encountering the Missing in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Laura Huttunen

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.

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From individual grief to a shared history of the Bosnian war

Voice, audience, and the political in psychotherapeutic practices with refugees

Laura Huttunen

This article explores the relationship between psychotherapeutic practices with people with refugee backgrounds and “the political”. The relationship between voice and audience in psychotherapeutic practices is explored; through such an analysis the relationship between psychotherapy, history, and the political is considered. The theoretical questions are approached through a case study, a Bosnian man with refugee background living in Finland and attending psychotherapy there who invited the anthropologist to attend his therapy sessions. The analysis of the single case is situated within long-term ethnographic research on the Bosnian diaspora. Situating the personal in historical and moral plots, as well as seeking larger audiences beyond the confines of the therapeutic relationship, is seen as crucial in producing therapeutic effects. Simultaneously, the case enables a theoretical discussion about the relationships between voice, audience, and the political.