Bosnian Themes

“Out of all the off-Broadway troupes, Living Theater toured Yugoslavia as early as 1966, giving performances in Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica, and Banjaluka.”
A monograph on the Americanization of Yugoslav culture in the sixties.
“The number of rock and roll groups grew exponentially. The group Indexi dominated the Sarajevo scene.”
“Given that film stars were visible on theater screens, in the press, on chocolate candy wrappers and chewing gum, and the walls of bedrooms and given that some of them also visited Yugoslavia, it looked completely normal to take them as role models. Seldom were attempts made to prevent the ‘fascination’ with stars; one example was Sarajevo, where in the middle of the 1950s it was announced that ‘solicitation of photographs from Hollywood’ was forbidden.”
“The most popular local Western hero was Harry Jackson, the ‘cowboy from Bijeljina.’ This was actually Aljuš Musli, the owner of the camera shop named ‘Western’ in that small Bosnian town.”

"Yugoslavia in the 1970s and 1980s was like the proverbial cat in the cartoon that continues to walk above the precipice—it only falls down when, finally, it looks down and becomes aware that there is no firm ground beneath its legs. Milošević was the first who forced us all to really look down into the precipice."
An essay by Slavoj Zizek on Karadzic in a volume on the literary output of despots.
"Instead of the industrial–military complex, we in post-Yugoslavia had the poetic–military complex, personified in the twin figures of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić."
“Dragan Dabić is not merely a mask, a fiction constructed to obfuscate Karadžić’s true identity. Of course Dragan Dabić is a fiction, a fake personat: the fictive person Dabić provides the ideological key to the ‘real’ war criminal Karadžić.”
“It is all too easy to dismiss Karadžić and company as bad poets: other ex-Yugoslav nations had poets and writers recognized as “great” and “authentic” who were also fully engaged in nationalist projects.”
“How can one forget that Karadžić and his companions also perceived themselves as uncorrupted ‘mountain’ people laying the siege on the corrupted valley of Sarajevo.”

“In 1882, the fates of three Croats hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who would place the Usta­sha cause at the center of their lives, crossed in the Jesuit seminary in Travnik.” – From a monograph on Ante Pavelic and the Ustasha movement.
Point­ing on a town in the heart of Bosnia on his map, the poglavnik con­cluded: “Here, you see, lies Jajce, the ancient capital of the Croatian Kingdom. Zagreb is too peripheral, and too polluted by Jews and false, opportunistic intellectuals.”
“In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Catholic community’s spiritual guide was Archbishop Ivan Šarić, at the helm of the metropolitan archdio­cese of Sarajevo since 1922. An advocate of Ustashism and the return to ‘Sacred Croatia,’ Šarić was the greatest exponent of Catholic radical­ism in Yugoslavia.”
“Jovan Kršić, a Bosnian writer and the founder of the most im­portant Yugoslav literary magazine, Pregled, refused to swear al­legiance to the Ustasha regime in his capacity as university professor, and was stabbed to death on the outskirts of Sarajevo.”
“In November 1957 Pavelić set out for the Spanish capital. On his arrival, Archbishop Ivan Šarić was there to greet him.”

“Kathryn Bolkovac, a dedicated Nebraska police officer signs a one-year contract to serve as a UN peacekeeper in postwar Bosnia with hopes that the salary will allow her to relocate. In Bosnia, instead of rebuilding a devastated country, she uncovers trafficked women and crimes perpetrated by peacekeeping forces.”
From a book on film and media representations of human trafficking in the Balkans.
“Based on a true story, The Whistleblower (Germany, Canada, US, 2010) relentlessly aims to uncover Western institutional corruption and illegal practices.”
“The film also offers a few scenes that negatively portray social conditions and relationships in Bosnia… While the film presents a Bosnian policeman who is trying to assist Bolkovac, other policemen are indifferent or complicit. Although these scenes are not numerous, they still suggest that Eastern Europe—from Ukraine, where the main protagonists were trafficked, to Bosnia—is a community of victims and criminals.”

Titles from the backlist, contemporary topics on top, older themes below:

The memory of the Winter Olympics in 1984 in Sarajevo brought a strong awareness about the ongoing war in Bosnia among the organizers of the Games in 1994 in Lillehammer, which gave rise to the Nansen Dialogue Network. Among the ten Nansen Dialogue Centers three operate in Bosnia: Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Mostar. The examination of the twenty years of the initiative recounts how the focus has shifted from seminars and workshops to intervention in the fields of education and politics.
The analysis of the social, political and social developments in Kosovo relates to Bosnia in a variety of ways. “Secretary General Annan found UN–SFOR cooperation in Bosnia a model for future endeavors, praising previous UN–NATO action in Bosnia as a ‘model of credibility,’ relevant to the ‘horror of Kosovo,’” but also “as a consequence of the internationals’ failures in Bosnia-Herzegovina to prevent atrocities and genocide there, the morality and credibility of the US were at stake”.
Furthermore, “the Bosnian Muslims, with their flawlessly clean streets and bazaars and pride in their academic Islamic culture, despised the Albanian Muslims who paid no attention to cleanliness in public places and were not as cultivated from the religious standpoint”.

“We very often find highly favourable descriptions and mentions of bureks in various travelogues from foreign countries. In an article on Bosnia and Herzegovina we read:
You can’t leave Baščaršija [the old town centre of Sarajevo] without trying a burek. Their ‘burekžinice’ [traditional burek shops] are lined up one after the other. The selection is huge.”
An analysis of burek, the dish and the phenomenon.
“The story How a Bosnian Loves tells of three Bosnians in Slovenia:
Soon Fikret and Mirza also came from their birthplace. They rented a flat together and created an island of nostalgia, a true Little Bosnia, in the middle of their urban neighbourhood. After some hard work it was just right. It smelled of freshly ground coffee, cigarette smoke swirled beneath the ceiling, there was fresh burek on the tray, and the Bosnian national anthem emanated from the speakers.“

 “Bosniak historical conscious­ness establishes itself through appropriating the medieval history of the Bosnian kingdom. This is a de­liberate attempt to stop presenting the Ottoman period of the Bosnian past as the formative period of Bosniak cultural singularity.”
Developments in post-communist memory politics in Bosnia are discussed in a comparative collection.
In the Serbian culture of mem­ory “the tragedy of Srebrenica is in Serbia’s shame rather than in Bosniak losses.”
“The term šehid for fallen soldiers was based on the national tradi­tion and not on what was supposed to be instrumental Islamization of society.”
“In Banja Luka, 338 out of 461 street names were related to Serbian cultural heritage and Serbian culture in general, 3 to Bosniak history and heritage, 20 to Croatian culture and history, and 100 to general toponyms, world, and former Yugoslavia.”

Bosnia the Good stands out in the row of books on the struggle of this shaken country. It has been followed by many other CEU Press titles partly or fully dedicated to Bosnian history and culture, as proven by items in the latest catalogues.

"Conservative estimates of the rapes committed during the Bosnian war range from twenty thousand to fifty thousand" - a strong opening sentence to one of the chapters of the volume on representation of women in war in artistic works - in Slavenka Drakulić's novel and Jasmila Žbanić's film.
"A woman's body never really belongs to the woman. It belongs to the others-to the man, the children, the family. And in wartime to soldiers."

Investigating tourism in communist Yugoslavia breaks new ground with its subject: A chapter is dedicated to the the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

"We were just kids then. We did not know what we were doing. We wanted only to destroy the Archduke, as a symbol of Austrian occupation and Germanization of our Bosnia. It was purely a protest, a strictly local affair. We did not think of war."
A surviving participant of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination told so to the reporter of the New York Times, whose memoirs also recall conversations with Emir Kusturica, the Sarajevo-born film-director: "I never wanted an independent Bosnia. I wanted Yugoslavia. That is my country."And also: "Titoism drove people I loved and shared life with into trying to impose the theory of a Moslem nation!"

“Islam in the Balkans can often best be understood in its complex relationship to sources of identity other than religion, especially language, to which it is at times subordinate and at times superordinate.”
By exploring the development of ethnic diversity and national tensions, this edited volume uses the three most diversely populated areas in the Balkans to tackle complex issues. The contributors challenge the readers to engage in a new way of thinking about the region and Balkan studies in general.
“A number of publications in four alphabets (Cyrillic, Arabic, Latin, and Hebrew) were published by the Ottoman printing press in Sarajevo starting in 1866.”
“When the results of the 1971 census were totaled, 1,482,430 individuals (39.6 percent) in Bosnia had selected the new category, Muslimani u smislu narodnosti.”
“The suffering of Turkish Bulgarian women at the end of the 1980s, although painful and humiliating, pales in comparison to the extreme physical violation that Bosnian women were subjected to during the Bosnian War. The estimates of rapes were over 20,000.”
“In the context of culturally divided states, like Bosnia, municipal governance is viewed as a conflict-resolution mechanism through which ethnic conflicts can be addressed out of the harsh politicized light of the national government. The Dayton structure decentralizes the state but leaves the very level of government theorized to be the most practical—the municipal—weak and resource-strapped.”

“Let’s get married. She said yes and made her decision on the spot without any previous planning.”
Behind and below the divisions that became so apparent lately there lies transethnic heritage shared by Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, the three main ethnic groups. Affinity (prijatelji) is such, and elopement (ukrala se, different from bride abduction, otmica). The elopement is a transformative rite of passage where an unmarried girl becomes a married woman. The affinal visitation, which follows, is a confirmatory ceremony where ritualized customs between families establish in-lawships.
These customs, guided by habitus, are unique and important to Bosnia, are explored on the basis of well-structured and effectuated fieldwork. The interdisciplinary framework embraces gender studies, cultural studies, folklore, Balkanology, and political philosophy. The damage on this cultural heritage during the past war from 1992–1995 is also assessed.

Undoubtedly, the widest range of readers in English will be reached by The Slave Girl and other stories about women by Ivo Andrić, winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in literature, stories that take place in Bosnia.

The role of Modernism in creating nation states and national culture respectively is discussed in the latest items of the four-volume CEU Press undertaking, quoting and commenting specimens from texts that shaped national identities in eastern Europe. Besides the Program of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization (1919), and the Resolution of the Muslims of Banjaluka (1941), Bosnia is represented by Jukić (1851), Kapetanović Ljubušak (1886), Šantić (1896), and is referred to in a number of Serbian and Croatian documents.

The book on health, hygiene and eugenics in Southeastern Europe contains an important chapter on Bosnia-Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian rule. An earlier related title of ours on eugenics in east and central Europe tells, among other, how Bosnians were looked upon in the debates and researches in the interwar Yugoslav period.

“About twelve percent of the midwives had been born in Bosnia-Herzegovina. None of them was Muslim. Formally, Serbian citizens did not fulfill the requirements to carry a work permit as a midwife. The Austrian-Hun­garian rulers’ fear of Serbia led to a formally strict policy against everything and everyone ‘Serbian’.”
A volume on the intertwined relationship between public health and nation building.
“The midwife’s bag, which was introduced by the Habsburg administration, provided to midwives for free, and regularly inspected by medical officers. If the bag was clean and the midwife had used disin­fectants, she was approved and could continue her work as a midwife. The bag re­mained state property and its instruments were only being loaned to the midwife.”
“The central and contested figure in this discourse was the ‘Muslim woman,’ in which Islam’s ‘backwardness’ and Bosnia-Her­zegovina’s otherness culminated. A veiled figure, she had withdrawn herself from Habsburg male view and was orientalized as both dirty and desirable.”

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A great many other CEU Press books abound in references to Bosnian history and culture.

  • Scholars of early Bosnian history are familiar with the Gesta Hungarorum of Anonymus (including Master Roger’s eye-witness record of the Mongol invasion), and the chronicle written by Thomas, 13th century archdeacon of Spalato (Split); now both are available in Latin-English bilingual edition.
  • The three volumes dedicated to east European travel writing contain a large number of references to 19th century travellers’ observations in Bosnia and Herzegovina; 
  • Ideologies and National Identities contains cases from twentieth-century Southeastern Europe;
  • A highly successful biographical reference book contains entries on the following Bosnian personalities: Jelica Belović-Bernadzikowska, Stoja Kašiković, and Staka Skenderova;
  • The life story of a Serbian woman, Natalija (1880-1956), based on her diaries and other memorabilia is filled with references to Bosnia, the birthplace of Natalija’s husband;
  • Voices in the Shadows gives a full presentation and analysis of  Bosnian women’s writing; 
  • Between Exile and Asylum is “an eastern epistolary” by Mostar-born Predrag Matvejević;
  • The Nonconformists, on culture, politics, and nationalism in a Serbian intellectual circle, 1944–1991;
  • The Demise of Yugoslavia is a political memoir by former Croatian president S. Mesić;
  • Intertwined suits involving Bosnia and Serbia before the Hague International Court of Justice arising from the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s;
  • Several of the chapters about the struggle for democratic values in post-Milosević Serbia contain substantial references to Bosnia;
  • And finally, among the thirty-three writers’ essays about common values of Europe Bosnia is represented by Dževad Karahasan.