• Resisting division along ethnic lines: a case study of two communities who challenged discourses of war during the Yugoslav conflict 1991-1995

      Abi-Ezzi, Karen; Whitman, Jim R.; Otmacic, Valentina
      There is a generalized perception on the 1991-1995 war in the former Yugoslavia as an ethnic conflict caused by longstanding antagonisms among homogenous ethnic groups inhabiting its territory. In such a worldview, which became part of the dominant discourse, inter-ethnic violence in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina was inevitable and the division of the population along ethnic lines was needed to stop the violence. In this thesis I problematize the dominant discourse on the ethnic nature and inevitability of violence, as well as on the ethnic fracturing as a solution, by exposing the experiences of two largest communities that remained ethnically mixed and preserved communal peace throughout wartime – the community of the region of Gorski kotar in Croatia and the community of the city of Tuzla in Bosnia-Herzegovina. By documenting and analysing their discourses and practices, and by contrasting them with the dominant discourses of war in these two countries, I provide evidence that these two communities were oases of peace which developed a counter-discourse and resisted violence by preserving their multi-ethnic character, promoting multiple identities, cherishing inter-ethnic cooperation and ensuring equality and good governance for all their citizens. Their narratives challenge the well-established «truths» about the war in the former Yugoslavia and add to the complexity of collective memories of its peoples.