Archive: February, 2012


Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

After being lost in online editing software for over one year, my review of Ivana Macek’s Sarajevo Under Siege: Anthropology in Wartime has finally been published. Part of the prolific Penn Press series on The Ethnography of Political Violence, Macek’s book is a valuable and timely contribution. As the Former Yugoslavia – and Bosnia-Hercegovina in particular – falls victim to waning international attention, Macek provides a new angle on the Bosnian War that is rich with ethnographic detail and analysis.

In particular, I appreciated Macek’s nuanced analysis of the varying roles people adopted during the seige. Rather than fall victim to overly simplistic understandings of civilians as either victims, combatants, or war criminals, for examples, Macek maps how different phases of the siege caused people to react differently, adopting different political and ethnonational / ethnoreligious identities in an attempt to negotiate protection and solidarity, and lend some rationality and acceptability to the violence they were experiencing. In doing so, she reveals the ethnonationalist / ethnoreligious dynamics that continue to contribute to ongoing tensions in the region. Macek notes: “Before the war, whatever concern [people] had with identifying others’ ethnoreligious background and ethnonational identity was aimed mainly at being respectful of differences. During the war, however, it became vital for people to identify one another’s position – their ethnonational identity, their feelings about other groups, and their opinions about nationalism itself and who was responsible for the war in order to know whether a reliable relationship could be established or maintained” (p. 167). (more…)


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