Negotiating a memory discourse: transnational remembrance practices of the Bosnian War in the Netherlands
Laura Boerhout (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the ties and tensions between various remembrance practices of the Bosnian War (1992-1995) that travel across borders between Bosnia and Herzegovina and The Netherlands.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores various remembrance practices of the Bosnian War (1992-1995) that travel across borders between The Netherlands and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It shows how certain transnational memories and solidarities enable people to counter methodological nationalism, while others perpetuate division within the nation. A considerable number of Bosnians live in The Netherlands; a country that has highly politicized and historically sensitive relations with Bosnia following the contested role of the UN Dutch Battalion in relation to the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995. This mutual, but contested heritage has led to different interpretations of how to remember the Bosnian War. Obstructed knowledge and an unwillingness to understand what happened during the Bosnian War in Dutch media, politics and education resulted in selective remembrance practices on the state-level and is overshadowing alternative memories. I argue that this form of "aphasia" (Stoler 2011) is shaped by both the memory narrative of active Bosnian-Dutch NGO's that borrow from Bosnia's remembrance practices, as well as the Dutch governmental involvement with Srebrenica's site of memory. There are, however, also travelling counter-narratives of Dutch with and without Bosnian roots, (online and on-site) that formulate alternative memories and show opportunities of moving beyond the current remembrance-stalemate related to the Bosnian War in The Netherlands. Based on participant observation and interviews with different actors in The Netherlands, this paper explores the ties and tensions between various remembrance practices of this contested past in Europe.
Heritage of silenced memories