July 7-23, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina & Dubrovnik, Croatia
The first ISSRPL met in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia and focused its attention on “The Role of Religion in the Conflicts of Ex-Yugoslavia.” We examined the way in which communities that had once lived together peacefully were ruptured and reconstituted through slogans of ethno-national and ethno-religious ideologies. The first ISSRPL also explored the lived context of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, learning how in some places the destruction of the war was an everyday physical presence in vacated houses and bombed-out buildings, whereas in other places narratives of violence were expanding beyond the experience. Both these aspects played an active role in understanding the process of “othering,” which divides the populations of the former Yugoslavia and remains an obstacle to rebuilding social relations.
“So long as the other is not demonized by claiming ‘this is what my neighbor did to me,’ steps toward reconciliation can be taken.”
Southeastern Europe, the new geopolitical name for the Balkans, is the most complex region of the “old continent.” This is a part of the world where it is impossible to point to any borders between states and regions that are not, to a greater or lesser extent, transcended by ethno-religious, ethno-national, linguistic and other identities. The region thus forms a major laboratory for analyzing the challenges facing Europe today. It therefore proved an ideal site to explore how it would be possible to build on the past experiences of tolerance and intolerance in the Balkans in order to provide a sustainable political culture for the current community of states and nations on the continent of Europe.