RPP #8

QUESTION: Why does identity preservation act as a representation of security in post-war Bosnia?

Research Statement: I am proposing to research institution reconstruction post-conflict because I want to find out what explains the rise in identity preservation discourse to help the reader understand how identity is politicized.

            The first source identified is the Constitution of Bosnia Herzegovina, article 4, section E, respectively. In Article 4(e), while emphasizing rights, seats itself in the normalization of ethnic divide and preservation that’s seen pervasively in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Article IV(e) specifically states that “A proposed decision… may be declared destructive of a vital interest of the Bosniac, Croat, or Serb people by a majority…[it] Shall require for approval… a majority of the Bosniac, Croat, & Serb delegates present.”[1] The specific mention of the different ethnic groups by name represents identity preservation as a form of safety and security. Furthermore, it represents the significance of ethnic minority groups still, countering a blanket statement of Article 2, and emphasizes that they are still a significant force today.

Furthermore, the representation of safety is emphasized through the 2013 census data, as the people of Bosnia still vote along ethnic lines – for political parties that preach rights for their group.[2] Further, newspaper reports about segregation in schools, school textbooks & language curricula, as well as Bosnian historical recounts, collectively represent national identity as a means of safety, through stories of myth and reality and how preserved national identity is long after disillusionment. [3]

Ethnic preservation is even more significant when it comes to the statute of the political parties. Though the only party site found was the Social Democratic Union, their statute, though not ethnic-based, still perpetuates representations that ethnicity still matters predominantly. Preservation is firstly emphasized by Article 4(18), which upholds the “preservation of cultural and social identity.” [4] Furthermore, 4(20) highlights the “protection of cultural and natural heritage.”[5] While both should be a right of all people, through the examination of the constitution & other texts, it implies the preservation of ethnic roots as a “vital interest”[6]  of the Bosnian people, thusly preserving the divide that is national identity.

The actors perpetuating these discourses are domestic and foreign actors who did intervene in dividing the country alongside making the constitution to ensure that conflict would not occur again.[7] Finally, because Bosnia is a republic, the people are actors as well.[8] As the public, they are ultimately electing leaders that elect the ideology.

With the ethnic discourse provided in the constitution, the statements in the statute mean more than merely preserving a monument or memorials. It takes the meaning of retained division among groups that must be perpetuated for the country to survive – at least according to those who wrote the constitution, statutes, and those who vote for them. Further, the texts connect to practices of anti-reconciliation reforms post-conflict, such as the separation of schools, the decentralization of the government, and the scattered population. All are emphasizing that ethnicity remains significant, to a point where it is politicized, as shown by the constitutional statements and party statute.

[1] “Article II: Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [Paragraphs] 1-8,” Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1995 English text of Annex 4 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1995 (1995): 4.

[2] “Popis 2013 BiH,” accessed November 7, 2019, http://www.popis.gov.ba/popis2013/knjige.php?id=0.

[3] Ena Duranović, “Segregation in Education: Two Schools under One Roof,” Medium, last modified February 4, 2019, accessed July 9, 2019, https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/segregation-in-education-two-schools-under-one-roof-82b611adb626.

 Pilvi Torsti, “SEGREGATED EDUCATION AND TEXTS: A CHALLENGE TO PEACE IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA,” International Journal on World Peace 26, no. 2 (2009): 65–82.

Geografija : … Razred Gimnazije 2 […], 2. izd. (Min. Obraz., Nauke i Kult., 1996).

 F. Bieber, “Nationalist Mobilization and Stories of Serb Suffering: The Kosovo Myth from 600th Anniversary to the Present,” Rethinking History 6, no. 1 (2002): 95–110.

[4] “About SDP,” SDP BiH, n.d., accessed November 5, 2019, http://www.sdp.ba/about-sdp/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Article II.”

[7] “Bosnia and Herzegovina – Government and Society,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed November 7, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/place/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina.

David A. Dyker and Ivan Vejvoda, Yugoslavia and After: A Study in Fragmentation, Despair and Rebirth (Routledge, 2014).

[8] “Bosnia and Herzegovina – Government and Society.”

One thought on “RPP #8

  1. Overall you have excellent data sources here, Tristen, and a very good discussion of the representations, symbols, and meanings that are starting to emerge from your reading of these documents. As you think about the overall problem statement and the formulation of the question, remember (from Dunn and Neumann) that questions in this methodology usually take the “how…?” or “how possible…?” form that then points to the specific discourses and representations that are puzzling (e.g. “How was it possible that lone mothers came to be represented as immoral and greedy in 1830s Britain?” to use the Carabine example). Make sure to work on reframing the question and the problem statement so it aligns with the focus of this methodology (studying how shared meanings are constructed, reproduced, and challenged).

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