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Remembering ethnic cleansing in Republika Srpska

Correia, Sara (2018) Remembering ethnic cleansing in Republika Srpska. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis provides a case-study of the relationship between public memory and lived experience in the process of transformation of national identity in the aftermath of 'ethnic cleansing'. Once a multi ethnic town with a Muslim majority, since the 1992-1995 Bosnian war the town of Bijeljina has been subjected to dynamics that resulted in the imposition of a narrow interpretation of Serb national identity in the public space. In this liminal process, Bijeljina has been transformed into a 'Serb' town, where Muslims are now tolerated but marginalised. 'Ethnic cleansing', the ultimate liminal experience, was central to the transformation of Bijeljina, and it figures prominently in the recollections of the local population, but is virtually absent from official memory, which is submitted to the demands of the nationalist agenda of the local authorities. An ethnographic approach allowed me to go beyond public representations, to explore private aspects of social memory and how these interact with official memory, as people try to find meaning for their wartime experience. I combined my observation of everyday life through immersion in the community during one year of fieldwork with in-depth interviews focusing on the respondents' recollections of life before the war, their wartime experience, how they reorganised their lives once the war was over, how they see the present and imagine a future for themselves and their families. The thesis argues for a more subtle understanding of the relationship of mutual implication between memory and identity, by focusing on the construction of collective memory in a context where identity is uncertain, to analyse the dynamics interplay between different mnemonic communities built on the basis of lived experience, and between these communities and the representations of the past sponsored or favoured by the political class. The thesis will fill a gap in the Memory Studies literature dealing with the experience of war; post-conflict; Transitional Justice; and post-war Bosnia Herzegovina, by going beyond the dominant trend focusing on public aspects of collective memory, such as commemorations and memorials, to place the population's lived experience and meaning making processes at the centre.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Sara Maria de Morais Bettencourt da Câmara Correia
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Kostovicova, Denisa and Hutchinson, John

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