Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal

By Gerard Toal; Carl T. Dahlman | Go to book overview

1
Yugoslavia’s Violent Dissolution

The eruption of ethnic cleansing in Bosnian towns and villages was an episode in a larger drama, the struggle since Tito’s death in 1980 to reform the SFRY as economic crises and political demands brought it to the brink of state failure. Why Yugoslavia descended into violent dissolution is essential to any understanding of the subsequent war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the population expulsions it generated. The literature on this question is considerable and recently enriched by a scholarly initiative challenging nationalist narratives and myths.1 Scholars from different backgrounds have emphasized various structural factors as well as proximate reasons for the violent breakup. Most accounts acknowledge that Yugoslavia, in the summation of Silber and Little’s influential journalistic account, “did not die a natural death but… rather, it was deliberately and systematically killed off by men who had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from a peaceful transition from state-socialism and one-party rule, to a market-based economy and multi-party democracy.”2 But academic accounts place this agentcentered perspective within the context of profound structural problems, some emanating from the legitimacy of Yugoslavia as a state idea and some from the weak governance structures and economic mismanagement characterizing the SFRY. While it is indeed the case that Yugoslavia was doomed by the self-interested calculations of the men in power in the early nineties, the political viability and economic sustainability of the federal state are likely to have been in question no matter who was in charge. Indeed, it is reasonable to conclude that a “natural death” for Yugoslavia was to be

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Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xv
  • Figures xvii
  • Tables xix
  • Abbreviations xxi
  • Introduction - Ethnic Cleansing and Return as Geopolitics 3
  • 1 - Yugoslavia’s Violent Dissolution 20
  • 2 - A Distinctive Geopolitical Space 46
  • 3 - Polarization and Poison 83
  • 4 - Ethnic Cleansing 112
  • 5 - Persistent Ambivalence 142
  • 6 - Early Battles over Returns 167
  • 7 - Building Capacity 194
  • 8 - Rule of Law 228
  • 9 - Localized Geopolitical Struggles 256
  • 10 - Did Ethnic Cleansing Succeed? 293
  • List of Interviews 321
  • Appendix 327
  • Notes 337
  • References 411
  • Author Index 441
  • Subject Index 446
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