Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Sociological and Anthropological Studies, University of Ottawa

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Berkeley
"Think" Future! Postsocialist Hope in Bosnia-Herzegovina

My dissertation examines the emergent forms of social imagination and political action in contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina that articulate visions of more desirable and more meaningful political futures as a way of challenging the dominance of nationalism and ethnic divisions. During the socialist era, the idea of future symbolized progress, denoting a temporal horizon on which a new and more equitable socialist society would be built. The catastrophic collapse of socialism seriously disrupted this powerful narrative, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which bore the largest brunt of violence and displacement from the Yugoslav wars of succession. In the Bosnian political present, "future" has come to represent both a collective problem in need of concrete solutions and the abstract location of hope, where Bosnians-Serbs, Croats and Muslims-might be able to build a better society. The dimensions of this desirable future nevertheless are not yet fully defined or agreed upon. My project foregrounds the ethnographic sites where such viable futures are being defined in explicitly anti-nationalist terms. How are these new anxieties and aspirations about the future in contemporary Bosnia related to the ways future was thought about in the communist era? More precisely, how is a new social imagination being shaped by the lived experiences and political values of Yugoslav socialism, while simultaneously being transformed by Bosnia's post-socialist and post-war experiences? I pursue these questions ethnographically through study of media campaigns, the work of civic organization and NGOs, and personal narratives of the residents of Jajce, Bosnian town with a special socialist history and an experience of total social displacement.