Accepted paper:

Effects of the siege on residents' relationship with Sarajevo


Kate Marple-Cantrell (University of California, Berkeley)

Paper short abstract:

This project is an interview-based study of the changes Sarajevo endured due to the war in Bosnia and how those changes affected residents’ relationships with the city. Changes in the lived experience of the city were found to arise from a number of shifts precipitated by the violence of the siege.

Paper long abstract:

The 1992-1996 siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was the longest siege in modern history, and for nearly four years residents lived under constant threat of violence, prevented from escape and cut off from the outside world. This project explores the changes that residents endured as a result of the siege of Sarajevo and how those changes affected their relationships with the city, approaching the topic from an urban perspective. To address these questions a series of interviews of students, professionals in urban-related fields, and residents of the city were conducted. All interviewees lived in Sarajevo both before and after the siege; some stayed in the city during the siege and others watched the city crumble from afar. The most substantial changes found were 1) changes in the lived experience of the city resulting from dramatic shifts in demographics, the destruction of the city's recreational areas, and the disappearance of neighborhood community life; and 2) concurrent politico-economic stagnation and polarization. This project presents these findings by outlining main areas and experiences of change in the city and by discussing implications of these changes for Sarajevo's future. Facing anti-urban campaigns that were later termed "memoricide" and "urbicide," Sarajevo's residents literally peered over the precipice of destruction, and this experience of violence manifests differently in their post-war lives. Regardless of their choices today, the example of their communities' survival and desire to rebuild provides inspiration of the many ways that a challenged society can face change and uncertainty fearlessly.

panel W029
Violence and resilience in South-Eastern Europe