Memories, identities, and violence in Croatia
Mila Dragojević (The University of the South)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines how, and whether, individual or local memories of past wars, specifically from WWII, are in some way linked with personal interpretations and understanding of the more recent political violence by analyzing interviews with respondents from seven different regions of Croatia.
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines how, and whether, memories of past wars, which had been acquired in families, schools, and/or local communities, contribute to personal interpretations and understanding of political violence that took place in the 1990s. While some scholars argued that in the regions of Croatia with history of extensive violence during WWII, residents were more likely to mobilize for violence because the memories of historical violence contributed to their heightened perception of threat, in the 1990s, some areas that experienced extensive violence in WWII did not have as extensive violence in the 1990s, as other regions. These empirical patterns indicate that there may not be direct relationship between the history of violence in WWII and the mobilization for violence in the 1990s in Croatia. In order to examine how individual interpretations contributed to their understanding of violence that occurred in both periods, this paper relies on the analysis 131 open-ended interviews conducted in the spring of 2014 with residents from seven regions of Croatia with varying levels of violence in both historical periods. Each interviewee was asked a question on whether they have any memories of events in WWII in their local community or family, and if they have how this knowledge informed their interpretations of the events in the 1990s in their own community. In addition, I complement my interviews that include life histories from WWII through the 1990s with 82 interviews conducted by Documenta, the Zagreb-based non-governmental organization documenting instances of violence against civilians.
Heritage of silenced memories