Reconstruction of Bosnian cities and the end of multicultural utopia
Maciej Falski (University of Warsaw)
Paper short abstract:
After the war in the 1990s Bosnian cities were largely destroyed, not only in material meaning. The urban space was subject to the process of change, motivated by the nationalist policy. Divided cities give the manifest example of interrelation between urban planning, politics, and cultural change.
Paper long abstract:
After the war 1992-1995 Bosnian cities were largely destroyed, not only in the material meaning. The urban space was subject to the process of change, motivated mostly by the nationalist politics of local governments. Divided cities, like Sarajevo or Stolac, give the most manifest example of interrelation between urban planning, politics, and cultural change. Urban space should be considered as a complex ecosystem of social relations and cultural environment. Reconstruction of the city has to be seen as an attempt to return social life into material form. Nationalist policy in today Bosnia tries to produce "pure" national space, Serbian, Croatian or Boshniak, and withdraw influence of other nation/culture. Urban space becomes this way the place of symbolic war, or the object of culturalist purification. The paper takes into consideration urban planning as an instrument which helps to separate communities formerly living together, like Serbs and Boshniaks in Sarajevo, or Boshniaks and Croats in Stolac. Development of Sarajevo and East Sarajevo gives an example of how the urban planning can be used to intensify the difference between two neighboring communities. Stolac was also subject of symbolic war and symbolic change, where intervention in urban space can be treated as the expression of hegemony, in this case of Croatian nationalist policy. The impossible reconstruction of divided cities can be interpreted as the manifestation of the end of Bosnian multicultural utopia.
Ethnographies of urban public spaces