Accepted Paper:

Contested memories in a contested state: remembering the Srebrenica genocide in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina  


Michele Bianchi (University of Calgary)

Paper short abstract:

Twenty years after the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the memory of the Srebrenica genocide is still contested and it constitutes a symbolic field where conflictual narrations of statehood have been created and displayed.

Paper long abstract:

Despite being declared a UN safe haven, the Bosnian town of Srebrenica fell into the hands of the Army of the Republic of Srpska (ARS) on the 11th of July 1995. Under the leadership of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić, the ARS captured, systematically killed, and buried in mass graves 8000 primarily Bosniak men and boys in the days that followed. Twenty years after the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a federalized state defined by its two territorial and nationally aligned entities - the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska (RS). In this sectarian and ethnicity-based political framework, the memory of the Srebrenica genocide is still contested. The commemorations of the genocide held at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial constitute performative events in which different memories of the conflict are displayed and conflictual narrations of statehood have been built. While some literature has fairly underlined the symbolic role that victims play in the formation of contemporary BiH statehood, RS institutions have been denying the events of the genocide through extremist political discourse since the end of the war. Based on a research project on the practices of memorialization of the Srebrenica genocide, this paper aims to investigate the relations between the different narrations of the massacre and their socio-political implications in contemporary BiH.

Panel RM-SPK08
Talking like a state: political narrative in everyday life