Women, Violence, and War: Wartime Victimization of Refugees in the Balkans

Women, Violence, and War: Wartime Victimization of Refugees in the Balkans

Women, Violence, and War: Wartime Victimization of Refugees in the Balkans

Women, Violence, and War: Wartime Victimization of Refugees in the Balkans

Excerpt

Presently, dominant Serbian public discourse about the 1991-95 war in the former Yugoslavia can be reduced to a simple formula— the war was inevitable, history keeps repeating itself and a sacrifice for higher national goals is not devoid of sense. Within such a discursive scheme, stories about individual victims and the suffering of ordinary people are only given a marginal place. The entry of Serbia into a new war (in Kosovo), its isolation (and self-isolation) from the international community, its false democratization and delayed transition towards a market economy make the arguments for such a narrative quite easy to find. Deeply set into a basically pessimistic historical script, Serbia became a self-fulfilling prophecy about isolation and sacrifice, excommunication and suffering. Although it is too early to speak about the causes of such a state of affairs and, perhaps, it may be impossible to reach a simple causal explanation, one thing seems certain; the meta-narration about the national project (failed or realized?) must be supplemented by those fragmented and chaotic yet important elements which relate to personal experiences. The choice between the macro-historical and micro-historical perspective is, of course, a matter of personal value orientation. Still, one could claim that advocating the microperspective of individual experience means advocating the authentically feminist perspective, which is, at the same time, humanistic and even pacifistic. Perhaps the most convincing way of criticizing war would be to document the suffering of “ordinary” people— those who were caught in the vortex of war, regardless of their intentions and without the possibility of deciding their own fate or even understanding what had happened to them. In that sense, the notorious feminist slogan that “the personal is the political” should be paraphrased to read “the historical is personal.”

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