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Contingent Statehood: Clientelism and Civic Engagement as Relational Modalities in Contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina

Larissa Vetters

Keywords: BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA; CIVIL SOCIETY; CLIENTELISM; INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS; RELATIONAL MODALITIES; RURAL-URBAN DICHOTOMY; STATE TRANSFORMATION

Abstract

This article analyzes clientelism and civic engagement as two relational modalities adopted by the residents of Mostar to obtain state-funded housing assistance in the face of rapid political transformation, economic insecurity, and post-conflict reconstruction. Couched in historical and contemporary discourses of deservingness and harking back to spatial imaginaries that evolved during the socialist era, both modalities converge in the notion of raseljeni, a post-war administrative category denoting an internally displaced person. Despite their apparent differences, the ultimate goal of both modalities is to establish sustainable channels of communication and productive relations with state authorities. Such relational modalities not only facilitate citizens' access to public resources, but also lend continuity and coherence to a fragmented state apparatus. In the process, they give rise to distinct political subjectivities and notions of political community.

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