War and Peace on the Danube: The Evolution of the Croatia-Serbia Boundary

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Publisher
IBRU
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
61
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ISBN
9781897643419
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Language
English
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This content is DRM protected.
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"The wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in neighboring Croatia and Kosovo grabbed the attention of the western world not only because of their ferocity and their geographic location, but also because of their timing. This violence erupted at the exact moment when the cold war confrontation was drawing to a close, when westerners were claiming their liberal values as triumphant, in a country that had only a few years earlier been seen as very well placed to join the west. In trying to account for this outburst, most western journalists, academics, and policymakers have resorted to the language of the premodern: tribalism, ethnic hatreds, cultural inadequacy, irrationality; in short, the Balkans as the antithesis of the modern west. Yet one of the most striking aspects of the wars in Yugoslavia is the extent to which the images purveyed in the western press and in much of the academic literature are so at odds with evidence from on the ground."—from The Myth of Ethnic WarV. P. Gagnon Jr. believes that the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s were reactionary moves designed to thwart populations that were threatening the existing structures of political and economic power. He begins with facts at odds with the essentialist view of ethnic identity, such as high intermarriage rates and the very high percentage of draft-resisters. These statistics do not comport comfortably with the notion that these wars were the result of ancient blood hatreds or of nationalist leaders using ethnicity to mobilize people into conflict.Yugoslavia in the late 1980s was, in Gagnon's view, on the verge of large-scale sociopolitical and economic change. He shows that political and economic elites in Belgrade and Zagreb first created and then manipulated violent conflict along ethnic lines as a way to short-circuit the dynamics of political change. This strategy of violence was thus a means for these threatened elites to demobilize the population. Gagnon's noteworthy and rather controversial argument provides us with a substantially new way of understanding the politics of ethnicity.
This book describes, compares, explains, and contextualises the positionings, i.e. discourses and activities, which feminists in Belgrade, Serbia and Zagreb, Croatia produced in relation to the (post-)Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Two types of positionings are analysed: those which the feminists have produced on the (sexual) war violence and those which they have produced on each other.

Applying a Bourdieuian framework and using interviews with key feminist and peace activists in the region alongside a thorough examination of organisational documents and printed media articles, Ana Miškovska Kajevska challenges the common suggestion that the outbreak of the war violence in 1991 led to the same reorganisation of the Belgrade and Zagreb feminist fields. She corrects the understanding that the activists in each city, who had up until then worked together without tensions, divided at the same time and in the same manner into antinationalists and nationalists and began clashing with each other because of the different war-related positionings. Miškovska Kajevska explains further that the terms ‘antinationalist’ and ‘nationalist’ were not completely value-free and objective, and had different meanings attached to them. These designations were an essential part not only of the local and international efforts to stop the (sexual) war violence, but also of the struggle for legitimacy among the feminists in each city – endeavours in which many Western (feminist) academics, activists, and funders were involved, too.

In addition to providing insights into the situation in Croatia and Serbia, this book will also help increase the understanding of intra-feminist dynamics in other regions of the world which are dominated by nationalism and war violence, and where the work of the local feminists is closely intertwined with – and often dependent on – these activists’ contacts with foreign academic, funding, activist, and/or political entities.

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