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Troubled locations

Return, the life course, and transformations of 'home' in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Stef Jansen

This article confronts the nationalist and foreign interventionist discourses on 'home' in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina with the everyday experiences of a category of persons who are perceived as the ultimate embodiment of the promised homecoming encapsulated in sedentarism: minority returnees. It ethnographically traces the initially mirroring movements of two households and their differential ways to overcome the effects of displacement as well as their insertion in broader transformations. Infusing the notion of 'home' with an eye for security in its widest sense, and, in particular, highlighting the importance of the life course, it investigates the significance of place through a contextualized household political economy of 'home'. In that way it explores the conditions in which certain remakings of 'home' come to be seen as more feasible than others.

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First as Tragedy, Then as Teleology

The Politics/People Dichotomy in the Ethnography of Post-Yugoslav Nationalization

Stef Jansen

ABSTRACT

Ethnographers working in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been at the forefront of the struggle against the identitarianism that dominates scholarship and policymaking regarding the country. Tirelessly foregrounding patterns of life that exceed, contradict, complicate or are oblivious to questions thus framed, we have—unsurprisingly—paid a price for this contribution: explorations of the appeal of nationalism are left mostly to others. This article identifies an emic and etic politics/people paradigm that facilitates our timidity to register the ways in which “ordinary people” may enact nationalist subjectivity. Seeking to retain the paradigm’s strengths, I call for a recalibration of how we understand it to function and explore conceptual tools to make this work. Starting from two cases of “foot soldier narratives,” I suggest that hegemony theory can help us trace not only how people are subjected to nationalization but also how they may seek subjectification through it.

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Of wolves and men

Postwar reconciliation and the gender of inter-national encounters

Stef Jansen

This article confronts the grammar of liberal reconciliation discourses with the gendered practices of post-war encounters. After violence that is considered national, meetings between people of different nationalities, and the reconciliation of which they are seen to be a vanguard, tend to be considered as morally good in and of themselves. This article subjects such liberal reconciliation discourse to a double ethnographic intervention: first, by privileging the practice of non-elite inter-national encounters over abstract notions of reconciliation, and, second, by tracing the particular gendered subject positions of sameness that shaped and were shaped by such encounters. The article explores how, after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, men who met across former frontlines evoked “normal life” through mutual recognition of performative competence of motifs of hegemonizing masculinities.

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Introduction

Movement, violence, and the making of home

Stef Jansen and Staffan Löfving

By giving an extensive literature review and presenting the central objectives of this theme section, this introductory article develops a programmatic call for a critical anthropology of 'home' in relation to violence and place. Challenging assumptions that territoriality, rootedness, and memories of violence are necessarily the primary determinants of identification among people on the move, it proposes conceptual tools to investigate how and when such discourses may provide or prohibit the making of 'home'. In particular, it draws attention to issues of political and economic transformation and the changing forms of violence and movement produced by them.