Accepted Paper:

Uncertainties, coping and community cooperation in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina   


Marika Djolai (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates how people cope with uncertainties during post-conflict recovery in Bosnia and Herzegovina with specific focus on the types of interactions between members of the community. It highlights the importance of family ties and emergence of new political and economic groups.

Paper long abstract:

At present, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a struggling state, fragmented and contested on many levels. Institutional framework put in place by the Dayton Peace Agreement formalized the territorial and ethnopolitical division of the country. It also created favourable conditions for locally embedded formal and informal actors to claim control of community resources and organizations, largely bypassing formal governance structures and the rule of law. The emergence of these structures created socio-economic conditions that are very different compared to what prevailed in the same in communities during the pre-war period. As a result, many people are facing different types of uncertainties in their daily lives and are exposed to different forms of vulnerability.

In contrast to the approaches that link community transformation and group dynamics with ethnicity, I argue that post-conflict uncertainties and people's behaviour are a consequence of institutional changes, which resulted in competition between newly emerging political and economic groups. To show this, I have selected Municipality of Stolac, a place that has been marred by incidents of violence for many years after the official end of the war. People living in the town of Stolac link uncertainties of daily life to a combination of old patronage habits strongly maintained in local discourse and new, war related institutional changes that allow ethnic discrimination. Living in poverty in comparison to the pre-war period, people attempt to adjust their behaviours to fit long established norm and new uncertainties.

The main contribution of the paper is the systematic analysis of community transformation and transition from coexistence to cooperation between different groups facing socio-economic uncertainities. My analysis will contribute to the theoretical understanding of how historical and social conditions, as well the experiences of past conflict, shape the organisation of local changes and the present.

This paper is based on the preliminary results of an on-going fieldwork, based on participant observation, semi-structured interviews and community mapping workshops.

Panel W032
La transformation des sociétés balkaniques: certitudes changeantes et incertitudes constantes ? (EN & FR)