War Crimes, Youth Activism & Memory in the Balkans | Wilson Center
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War Crimes, Youth Activism & Memory in the Balkans

Past post-conflict justice processes in the Balkan region were comprised of a variety of protagonists, such as governments, international institutions, and civil society. Mechanisms to cope with mass atrocities committed during the conflict in the 1990s included international trials in The Hague, domestic trials in many of the former states of Yugoslavia, and several truth commission attempts. In recent years there has also been a rise in youth activism to confront war crimes. However, literature in transitional justice that addresses this phenomenon remains underdeveloped. This research draws on over two-dozen in-depth interviews with youth activist leaders across the former Yugoslavia focusing on their performance-based campaigns. Additional data was collected from online prosopographic analysis—which consists of studying common characteristics of these activists by means of a collective study of their lives and careers. In his findings, the author explains why the emergence of transitional justice youth activism in the Balkans falls short of the significant institutional reforms of earlier youth movement mobilizations in the regions. He also throws light on why their performance activism is distinct from practices of older, established human rights organizations in the region. Notwithstanding, he argues that this performance-based advocacy work has fueled the creation of a new spatiality of deliberation—so called strategic confrontation spaces—to contest the culture of impunity and challenge the politics of memory in the former Yugoslavia. 


Arnaud Kurze is currently Term Professor in the Department of Politics at New York University (NYU) and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Global Studies (CGS) at George Mason University (GMU). In May 2012 he received his Ph.D. in Political Science at Mason on “Justice Beyond Borders? The Politics to Democratize Human Rights in the Post-Conflict Balkans.” In the past, he was the Publication & Web Editor at CGS and Coordinator of CGS' 'Human Rights and, Justice & Democracy Project', funded by the Open Society Institute. He also holds a MA in Governance studies from University of Hagen, Germany and a BA in International Relations from Sciences Po, France. He has published in several academic journals and is author of several reports on foreign affairs for the government and international organizations. He regularly contributes analyses and op-ed articles online for think tanks and other institutions. In the past, he has taught undergraduate and graduate classes on globalization and identity politics; geopolitics; transatlantic relations; international relations; and the Balkans. His research interests are Southeast European politics, transitional justice, and social movements. He received numerous awards and fellowships from many progressive institutions such as the Woodrow Wilson Center. 




  • Arnaud Kurze

    Global Fellow
    Assistant Professor, Montclair State University
  • John R. Lampe

    Global Fellow
    Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park