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Ethnic Conflict and War Crimes in the Balkans

In the years following the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian social, cultural and political responses to the wars of the 1990s have fallen under intense scrutiny. In Ethnic Conflict and War Crimes in the Balkans, Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik explores some of those responses - taking into consideration notions such as silence, denial and conspiracy theory, the book sheds some light on the complicated narratives about the 1990s. The book considers the experience of knowing, witnessing and speaking about atrocities, and thus contributes to the debates on confronting the past in Serbia. Specifically, it considers how individuals of the "ordinary" public in Serbia reflect upon, understand and keep secrets about the 1991-1999 conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and the atrocities, human rights abuses and war crimes which were committed there. Close attention is paid to the stories of individuals whose voices and experiences are generally excluded from the broader debate about the past. Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik explores how these narratives diverge from, resist and are invisible to the formal and civil society initiatives aimed at confronting the past in Serbia.In doing so, the book also explores silence about and denial of the violent past, and considers how and where these dynamics manifest and what they might mean. In addition, it covers themes such as narratives of self-victimhood, conspiracy theory and the perception of war-time leaders and combatants. This is a detailed and considered investigation into how groups cope with knowledge and the witnessing of violent pasts. It is based on ethnographic research and interviews with a group of 'ordinary' individuals, in post-Milosevic Serbia. As such, it provides a unique perspective on the lived experience of the conflicts, and the ways in which stories of the 1990s emerge in everyday contexts.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Nation and Myth in Public and Political Discourse The Rise of the 'National We': Reconfiguring Serbian Nationalism Kosovo and 'Heavenly Serbia': National Mythology in Culture and Politics, 1980s-Present 'Coming to Terms with the Past' Twelve Years after Ethnic Conflicts Part 2: National Mythology and Common Sense in Conflict Narratives Narrating Ethnic Conflicts and the NATO Air Strikes Victimhood and Threat in Conflict Narratives Blame Attribution and Conspiracy Theory as Causes of Conflicts Part 3: 'The Nation' and Denial of War Crimes Aspects and Mechanisms of Denial Milosevic and Mladic as Defenders of the Nation Conclusion

About the Author

Jelena Obradovic is a Researcher at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, European Research Institute, University of Birmingham, UK.


'Scholars of transitional justice, denial and Southeastern Europe will welcome this deft examination of how ordinary citizens in Serbia understand the atrocities committed during the wars of succession in the former Yugoslavia. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik unpacks the perceived "silences" surrounding the crimes committed in the region, identifying why and how current efforts to "come to terms with the past" often have little resonance. This first book by a talented writer makes an important contribution to the existing literature and will be of interests to activists, policymakers and scholars.' - Lara J. Nettelfield, Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London

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