Post-War Identification: Everyday Muslim Counterdiscourse in Bosnia Herzegovina

Post-War Identification: Everyday Muslim Counterdiscourse in Bosnia Herzegovina

Post-War Identification: Everyday Muslim Counterdiscourse in Bosnia Herzegovina

Post-War Identification: Everyday Muslim Counterdiscourse in Bosnia Herzegovina

Excerpt

The war in former Yugoslavia - mainly Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina - and the fierceness with which it was carried out is probably still remembered by most Europeans. For many this war inside Europe destroyed the feeling of living in a peaceful region, a feeling built upon a common European commitment to not letting the Second World War repeat itself: Never again! Some, though, succeeded in upholding the idea of everlasting European peace by ascribing the war and violence in former Yugoslavia to an endemic Balkan mentality: the Other within.

The war is now over, at least it officially ended with the Dayton agreement on 14 December 1995, and the people of the region are now trying to piece together a life - pieces consisting of war-related traumas, nationalist propaganda, ruined economies, disappointment, memories of pre-war life and so on. This book focuses on this puzzle of post-war life among the Muslim population of Stolac, a small town in Bosnia Herzegovina. More specifically, I will concentrate on how in everyday practices and narratives the Muslims of Stolac resist the ethnonationalist discourse that has invaded so many aspects of both public and private life throughout the last two decades. Their resistance is seldom outspoken, consciously articulated or organised; rather it consists of a steady insistence on not using ethnic or national categories and stereotypes when identifying themselves and others. And it exists in a hope for future inter-ethnic coexistence. I term this resistance counterdiscourse.

Many books and articles dealing with the war and pre-war period in former Yugoslavia have been published in the last fifteen years, and nearly all of these have analysed the role of nationalism. Some maintain that nationalist or ethnic tensions in former Yugoslavia ignited the war; others have demonstrated how such tensions were produced throughout the war and pre-war period to legitimise a fight for power. Hardly any, however, have focused on how ordinary people trying to hold on to everyday life have related to the discourses of nationalism outside the public sphere. In this book I maintain this ethnographic focus; and, as my results illustrate, nationalist policy and ethnic identity and stereotypes in the light of the everyday life of the Muslims of Stolac

1 Bougarel et al. (2007), Jansen (2000a), Maček (2000a), Povrzanović (1997) and Feldman et al. (1993) are important in this respect.

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