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Violence and Identification

Everyday Ethnic Identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Torsten Kolind

The aim of this article is to account for some of the consequences of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 on matters of identification in everyday life among the Muslims of Stolac. 1 Or, to put it a little polemically, the lack of

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Shakespeare's Fools

A Piece in a Peacebuilding Mosaic

Maja Milatovic-Ovadia

emphasises comedy and playfulness. The arts contribute to the reconciliation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the community level in a variety of ways. Some are process-oriented and serve the purposes of therapy or healing for individuals and

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First as Tragedy, Then as Teleology

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

Stef Jansen

account for the appeal of nationalism in the early 1990s, allowing others to dominate knowledge production on this issue. Focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), this article identifies an emic and etic dichotomous paradigm of “politics” and “ordinary

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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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Coffee after cleansing?

Co-existence, co-operation, and communication in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina

Anders H. Stefansson

This article critically addresses the idea that ethnic remixing alone fosters reconciliation and tolerance after sectarian conflict, a vision that has been forcefully cultivated by international interventionists in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the town of Banja Luka, it presents a multi-faceted analysis of the effects of ethnic minority return on the (re)building of social relations across communal boundaries. Although returnees were primarily elderly Bosniacs who settled in parts of the town traditionally populated by their own ethnic group, some level of inter-ethnic co-existence and co-operation had developed between the returnees and displaced Serbs who had moved into these neighborhoods. In the absence of national reconciliation, peaceful co-existence in local everyday life was brought about by silencing sensitive political and moral questions related to the war, indicating a preparedness among parts of the population to once again share a social space with the Other.

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The gender of coffee

Women and reconciliation initiatives in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina

Elissa Helms

This article explores the gendering of reconciliation initiatives from the perspective of Bosniac women active in women's NGOs in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. I illustrate how established patriarchal gender relations and socialistera models of women's community involvement framed the ways in which some women's NGO participants constructed essential ethno-national and gender differences, in contrast to dominant donor discourses. This leads to exploration of how gender patterns embedded in the institution of komšiluk (good-neighborliness), particularly women's coffee visits, provided both obstacle and opportunity for renewed life together among ethnic others separated by wartime ethnic cleansing. Distinguishing between the two concepts, I show how, from the perspective of women's roles and experiences, “life together” may be all that displaced women want or expect out of “reconciliation” initiatives, and that even this may be beyond the capacity of many displaced people to forego talk about injustices and guilt stemming from the war.

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Daughters of Two Empires

Muslim Women and Public Writing in Habsburg Bosnia and Herzegovina (1878–1918)

Fabio Giomi

This article focuses on the public writings of Muslim women in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Habsburg period. From the beginning of the twentieth century, several Muslim women, mainly schoolgirls and teachers at Sarajevo's Muslim Female School, started for the first time to write for Bosnian literary journals, using the Serbo-Croatian language written in Latin or Cyrillic scripts. Before the beginning of World War I, a dozen Muslim women explored different literary genres—the poem, novel, and social commentary essay. In the context of the expectations of a growing Muslim intelligentsia educated in Habsburg schools and of the anxieties of the vast majority of the Muslim population, Muslim women contested late Ottoman gender norms and explored, albeit timidly, new forms of sisterhood, thus making an original contribution to the construction of a Bosnian, post-Ottoman public sphere.

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Postsocialist Mediterranean

Scalar gaze, moral self, and relational labor of favors in Eastern Europe

Čarna Brković

This article opens a conversation between anthropological studies of the Mediterranean and of postsocialism in order to propose the notion of a “scalar gaze” as an analytical approach useful for capturing veering practices in their social complexity. The article argues that favors (veze/štela, lit. relations, connections) in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina were a practice through which people fulfilled the demands of capitalist economy to be active, rather than a pre-capitalist excess that prevented “proper” development of the country into a neoliberal democracy. Zooming in and out and looking sideways between moral reasoning, internationally supervised structural changes of the job markets, and electoral politics, this article explores how the relational labor of favors reproduced moral selves, as well as hierarchy and inequality.

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Ruptured pasts and captured futures

Life narratives in postwar Mostar

Monika Palmberger

In situations in which an entire population is affected by war and great political-economic transformations, as was the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina, generational differences exist regarding the extent to which people experience these events as disruptions to their lives. Even in a nationally divided city like Mostar after the 1992-1995 war, generational experiences-of past and present times as well as of future prospects (or the lack thereof)-are crucial for the way people rethink the past and (re)position themselves in the present. In the case of the generation of the "Last Yugoslavs", I argue that the disruption of their life course and the resulting loss of future prospects prevent people from narrating the local past and their lives in a meaningful and coherent way.

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Introduction

Reconciliation, reconstruction, and everyday life in war-torn societies

Marita Eastmond

This special section of Focaal explores processes of social recovery and peace-building in the aftermath of radical violence and political upheaval. The articles draw on detailed ethnographic case studies from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that was shattered by war and ethnic cleansing in the 1990s, and raise issues of relevance to other post-conflict situations. Challenging “reconciliation” as a moral discourse with universalist claims, the articles highlight the dynamics of its localization in different contexts of intervention in post-war society. The four contributions explore different facets of this dynamic as it is played out in the key areas of justice, the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and NGO peace-building activities. They illuminate what happens when the global paradigm of reconciliation encounters and filters through meanings and motivations of actors in local contexts. They also note that everyday interactions between former adversaries take place not as a moral engagement with reconciliation but as part of rebuilding a sense of normality. The findings point to the need to critically investigate the conditions under which such encounters may empower or prohibit the rebuilding of social relations and trust in post-war societies.