329. Migrating Icons: Politics and Serbian Cultural Heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina before and after 1992Jul 07, 2011
November 2006 - Despite all the efforts to preserve the multi-cultural character of the four major cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina—Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar and Livno—the war has changed each city's ethnic composition, probably forever. One of the major demographic trends is that most Serbs have moved out of these cities. The question I pose is: should they take their material culture with them? I will present a brief history of icon collecting in Serbian churches in Bosnia—how the collections were formed and how these icons are related to Serbian national identity, history and current ideology. By understanding some of the historical issues important to the formation of these collections, we can better understand the role these icons played in the formation of Serbian identity in these territories.
All nationalities, ethnic groups, or peoples are by definition intrinsically unique, set apart from one another by their cultures, languages, and historical experiences. Yet it can be said confidently that in many respects the Roma (Gypsies) constitute a most unusual ethnic group, not only in Eastern Europe but also in a larger, global sense. The uniqueness of the Roma lies in the fact that they are a transnational, nonterritorially based people that do not have a homeland to provide haven or extend protection. As the author discusses, it is this characterization of the Roma which explains their marginality as well as their relationship to the states and societies of Europe and beyond.
January 2004 - Over the past decade, international organizations and development NGOs have broadened their efforts to nurture democratic governance from the centers of power in capital cities to local government. Local government is the first tier of public authority that people confront in their everyday lives. Good local governance provides services to diverse populations, facilitates the development of political institutions and cross cutting social networks and fosters economic development. At the same time, effective local government has the capacity to resolve conflicts at an early stage, preventing them from escalating into violence. In this light, the circumstances enhancing the sustainability of post-conflict local democracy command great interest.
July 2001 Conference Report - Given the obvious importance of minority and ethnic issues for the stability of the continent, the continuing threat of further disintegration of the region on the basis of minority conflicts, and the still elusive solution to this contentious issue, the East European Studies program (EES), the Kennan Institute, and the Conflict Prevention Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center cosponsored an all day conference on April 24, 2001, to address "Minorities and Tolerance in Central and Eastern Europe and the NIS." Intended to analyze the role of national and shared minorities and their impact on security and stability in the region, the conference highlighted the important roles played by the EU and NATO enlargement processes in promoting tolerance and encouraging strategies to deflect ethnic tensions. The event concluded with a session seeking to propose strategies to avert ethnic hatred by focusing on lessons learned from Chechnya and a broad-brush look at what has worked for international efforts in conflict prevention.
Of all of the Yugoslav successor states, Slovenia has recorded the smoothest and least problematic transition toward liberal democracy and has maintained the highest level of system stability, as measured by several conventional indicators. What accounts for this relative success? It is fashionable in some quarters to attribute Slovenia's smoother transition to the country's high degree of ethnic homogeneity or to its greater prosperity. While it may be that these factors are not entirely irrelevant, I would prefer to place the stress on two rather different factors, viz., the fact that the League of Communists of Slovenia already embarked on the transition to a pluralist system in the mid-1980s, building bridges with the Slovenian opposition, and, in the process, beginning the transition to legitimate government; and the fact that liberal political culture was planting its seeds in Slovenia already in the 1980s, if not before. Indeed, the activities of pacifist, environmentalist, punk, and lesbian and gay associations at that time helped to lay the foundations for a tolerant liberal culture in Slovenia, at a time when Serbia was sinking ever deeper into a thoroughly nationalist culture.
May 1997 - The successor states to the former Yugoslavia may be unanimous in their opposition to any political project even hinting at its recreation, but they still face a set of surprisingly common economic problems. (On the emergence of the successor states from the collapse of Yugoslavia, see Yugoslavia and After: A Study in Fragmentation, Despair, and Rebirth, edited by David A. Dyker and Ivan Vojvoda [New York: Longman, 1996].) For one, there is the obvious absence of the economic boom that a postwar recovery period often generates. As a partial solution, business enterprises are turning back toward their nearest neighbors, their former compatriots. Even this movement faces two further problems. First, their transitions to a market economy based on private enterprise are in the best case half-finished and have in the worst cases created new vested interests grounded in political power and corruption. Second, while private entrepreneurship has indeed grown apace, its enterprises are typically too small or too closely linked to political or outright criminal networks to press effectively, from below, for a legal market framework.
The series of articles that follows confront a fundamental question of socio-political development, the nature of social allegiances and the two main systems of classification that have been proposed to explain them: class and nation. All of the articles revolve around issues raised by Roman Szporluk in his book "Communism and Nationalism: Marx vs. List," published by the Oxford University Press in the spring of 1988.
September 2002- The importance of the media is axiomatic to the new political elites in the post-Communist nations, so they seek to own, control and, at the very least, to influence the media. Consequently, Eastern Europe's media are judged to be dependent on the state - the new political forces and the newly established market - instead of being outgrowths of civil society. Furthermore, the new media systems are seen as lacking autonomy, pluralism and diversity, not contributing to the democratization process, and worse yet, being inimical to it, thwarting citizen participation. Journalism is considered unprofessional, being tendentious, opinionated, highly politicized, often inaccurate and incomplete, and pandering "to low instincts and prurient tastes."1
February 2000 - The year 1999 was a very traumatic year for the six million Albanians in the Balkans. Thanks to NATO's intervention and after long years of bad luck, national tragedy, and economic misery, the future looks relatively bright. Despite daunting challenges, Albanians in Kosova are finally free of Serbian repression and can now begin building a new, more stable future. In Albania, there are some signs of recovery from the 1997 economically-induced government crash, although politically, it is still pervaded by a lack of cohesion and direction.