Cross-communal acts of commemoration designed to promote peace at a local level in Bosnia-Herzegovina

by George R. Wilkes

22 Jun 2021
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
25 (pp. 95-119)

Abstract: This essay describes two distinct senses in which local remembrance activities are used to build peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina: to counter nationalist conflict narratives and to demonstrate cross-communal recognition on the local level. The existing literature on such activism in Bosnia-Herzegovina foregrounds the objective conditions in which the combination of memory activism and peacebuilding is necessary as a counter to the uses made of remembrance by the main ethnonationalist parties to justify their divisive rule. The article draws on the concepts of Michael Rothberg—multidirectional memory and implicated subjectivity—to show how the divergent forms of local peacebuilding and memory activities imply choices which also have a subjective, relational element. To enable the reader to understand these choices, the article first reviews the historical, political, and social conditions faced by activists. Secondly, it explores ways in which the subjective, relational dimensions of these choices are also keys to understanding ways in which their variety and their engagement with local realities are not captured in objectivising literature on peacebuilding and memory work.

Keywords: Bosnia-Herzegovina, politics and remembrance, local peacebuilding, implicated subjects, generations.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 9, supplementary issue 3 (Memories from the Margins: Violence, Conflict and Counter-Narratives).

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