Accepted paper:

The Tour on the sites and crime scenes: witnessing, remembering and display the absence: commemorating the massacre of Srebrenica (BiH)


Michele Bianchi (University of Calgary)

Paper short abstract:

Any 13th of July, associations of victims and relatives of the Srebrenica massacre commemorate their losses, visiting the sites where their loved ones had been detained, executed and then buried into mass graves by the Republika Srpska Army after the fall of the muslim enclave, the 11th of July, 1995.

Paper long abstract:

As it is known, the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, declared in 1993 UN safe-area by General Philippe Morillon, fell after less than a week of battle in the hands of the Bosnian-Serb General, Ratko Mladić. During the days that followed, more then 8.000 Bosniak men and young boys had been captured and then murdered around the Drina valley by the bosnian-serb forces. The one-day journey organized by the "Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa", through the locations where their relatives had been detained and executed, constitutes the commemorative event where they find the opportunity to deal publicly with their dramatic past, mourning and remembering their husbands and sons. Seeking different levels of recognition, the Mothers challenge the policy of denial carried out by Bosnian-serb institutions in post-war Bosnian context, creating a performative complex where they can keep alive the memory of the victims, claiming their identities as mothers and survivors. Taking the Tour on the sites and crime scenes as ethnographic example, this paper, inspired by an ethnographic experience carried on in summer 2012 and 2013, aims to explore the different ways relatives and survivors display their agency as witnesses as much as social actors involved into the remembering process of the Srebrenica massacre. In other words, assuming that memory is a performative process where individual experiences are affected and mixed with political claims and social institutions, what are the socio-cultural meanings and the symbolic edges of the commemorations of the Bosniak genocide, once it has become heritage?

panel Heri010
Conflict as cultural heritage