30 Nov 2015

Dealing with Painful Memories: Walking the (Thin) Line between War and its Aftermath

Berghof Handbook Dialogue Series No. 11 - comment

As I cannot do justice in this short paper to every point Hamber makes in his engaging and thoughtful article I have chosen to discuss a few points, drawing on my personal experiences of war in my homeland Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). First, I will provide an overview of the war in BiH and its nexus with trauma. I will question the transition process, reflecting on the blurred line between “conflict” and so-called “postconflict”, and argue that war in BiH is not over yet; it is just being fought with other means. In the second part of the paper, I will discuss competing victimhood(s), ethnic identities and the parallel narratives that are a feature of the BiH transitional processes and that present obstacles to any attempts at reconciliation. Finally, I will suggest that in order to build a shared narrative of war it is important to intertwine the experiences of all victims and to draw on positive stories of courage and sacrifice in the midst of war, to restore the faith of Bosnian people in humanity and coexistence.


Olivera Simić


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