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Remembering As Resistance. Inclusive Commemorations Versus Competitive Victimhood After Mass Atrocity


UL – CELSA Majsova


1.10.2022 - 30.9.2024

Head: Natalija Majsova


The project Remembering As Resistance. Inclusive Commemorations Versus Competitive Victimhood After Mass Atrocity In The Former Yugoslavia proposes to develop an integrative approach to the study of the complex connections between war commemoration and durable peace by investigating selected sites of war violence from the perspectives of political and cultural studies. The project focuses on the crucial case of former Yugoslavia and proposes to re-position sites of memory at the crossroads of both their material and mediatized existence, trace the interactions between top-down and grassroots memorializations, as well as highlight the social impact that the latter strive to make. Over the duration of the project, the international team will address research questions such as: What role do commemorations play in the construction of collective memory in places that have been disrupted by war violence? How do such commemorations create or hinder durable peace? And to what extent can the inclusion of (non-official) grassroots commemorations, and bottom-up initiatives more broadly, stimulate a more inclusive form of remembrance? The project zooms in on a selection of sites of extreme war atrocity, places where nationalist elites regularly evoke competitive victimhood to inflame the enemy images of the war era. These nationalist mobilizations form an obstacle to inclusive citizenship and durable peace. The team aims to: 1.) explore the connection between sites of commemoration, the construction of collective memory (and collective denial), and (the lack of) durable peace in places that have been disrupted by violent conflict, focusing on Vukovar in Croatia; 2.) map to what extent and by which mechanisms local voices and grassroots perspectives are incorporated into, or excluded from, the identified competing official versions of remembrance; 3.) analyse the political dynamics surrounding the selected sites of memory and their mediatizations. We are interested in both official and alternative (bottom-up) discourses, images and narratives connected to the sites of violence and their commemorations. The overall aim is to find out what the chances are of alternative commemorations to resist and subvert the persistence of war-mongering politics. The researchers examine their relationship with the formal institutions of commemoration and check if they can form a viable and more inclusive alternative. To do so we rely on conceptual frames and methods from political research (in particular, political anthropology) on the one hand, and humanities (cultural studies/media studies, memory studies) on the other. The innovative aspect of the project is that it breaks empirical ground by finding out when and how sites of conflict and commemoration in the former Yugoslavia might function as places of reconciliation involving all citizens, including those now often excluded. The relevance of this empirical endeavour is to bring the discussion about commemoration practices in the Balkans into the wider academic conversation on the connection between commemoration and durable peace in post-violence zones.

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