A Distinctive Geopolitical Space
During the second Yugoslavia it was common to describe Bosnia as a “Yugoslavia in miniature.” The expression was an implicit acknowledgment of the centrality of Bosnia to the creation of AVNOJ Yugoslavia and its creed of “brotherhood and unity,” which drew upon Bosnian traditions of cultural accommodation and shared territorial identity. “Without Bosnia there is no Yugoslavia, and without Yugoslavia there is no Bosnia” was an early Partisan formulation linking both as mutually reinforcing solutions. Tito’s Yugoslavia, like Bosnia, sought to combine national heterogeneity with a common sense of homeland and to demonstrate that nationhood and territory did not need to be closely bound together. With the move beyond centralizing Yugoslav unitarism in 1962, however, this idealization faded, and Yugoslavia was gradually acknowledged as a decentralized federation of national republics, with Bosnia as an exception and, as the most rigidly Communist republic, an exemplar of the spirit of Yugoslavism. Among nationalists critical of Tito’s Yugoslavia, the notion of Bosnia as a “Yugoslavia in miniature” acquired a different meaning. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžič, for example, complained in 1991, after Yugoslavia had effectively collapsed, that Bosnia, as a Yugoslavia in miniature, was similarly an artificial structure whose different people could not and should not be forced to live together in one state.1 In this context, revival of the old Partisan formula had ominous implications: no Yugoslavia, no Bosnia-Herzegovina.2
Imagining Bosnia and Yugoslavia together is deeply problematic for at least two reasons. First, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a great deal older than
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Publication information: Book title: Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal. Contributors: Gerard Toal - Author, Carl T. Dahlman - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2011. Page number: 46.
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