Accepted Paper:

Long-distance mourning: the impact of the missing on the Bosnian diaspora communities  

Author:

Hariz Halilovich (RMIT University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the impact of people missing from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the trans-local relationships between diaspora and origin communities. In particular, the paper explores the effects and affects of the missing on the bereaved across time and globally extended space.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses the impact of people missing from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the trans-local relationships between diaspora and origin communities. In particular, the paper explores the social and cultural legacies of the missing on the bereaved by examining how those still living mediate their mourning, and the consequences thereof, across time and globally extended space.

At the end of the Bosnian War, in addition to more than 100,000 killed, close to 40,000 individuals remained missing, almost 9,000 of whom have still not been found or identified. The war also resulted in a displacement of some 2,5 million people, out of which more than a million settled in Western Europe, Scandinavia, Northern America and Australia, forming a worldwide network of the Bosnian diaspora. Many of the migrants often lost close family members, who in many cases remained—or still remain—unaccounted for. More than two decades later, for many members of the Bosnian diaspora what is depicted as an 'unresolved past' is in fact an unresolved present, spreading across both time and space. The memory of the missing in is kept alive and performed through symbolic home memorials and religious and non-religious commemorations coinciding with similar events taking place in Bosnia (e.g. 11 July, 31 May, and 20 July). By describing these performative enactments of memory in diaspora, the paper will discuss the concepts of 'liminal entrapment'—describing open-ended temporality of the missing—and 'trans-local mourning' practices, increasingly synchronized and mediated through digital technologies.

Panel P045
Missing persons, unidentified bodies: addressing absences and negotiating identifications