Category Archives: Memory

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Podcast: Lea David, A War over Genocide: Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina Facing/Faking Their Past

leaOne of the core assumptions underpinning the EU’s operations is that the implementation of the human rights principles is crucial for democratization processes and for coming to terms with the past, in particular in post-conflict settings. However, despite these efforts, nationalism, which opposes the uniform standardization of global rights, still remains the most potent ideology across the globe, in particular in conflict and post-conflict settings. In this lecture I will analyze the uses of the genocide discourses in Serbia, Croatian and Bosnia-Herzegovina to provide a critical perspective on the impact that the human rights regime has on nationalist ideologies. I will question the usefulness of the human rights agenda which is based on the assumption that the standardization of memory, i.e. a proper way of remembrance, is effective in promoting universalist human rights values in conflict and post-conflict settings. In so doing, it will address the fundamental questions asking kind of national memories are being enforced via human rights infrastructures among post-conflict states and how are those memories re-figuring and transforming the potency of nationalism.

Lea David finished her PhD at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben Gurion University, Israel. Her work examines how a transition to democracy is changing a content of a collective memory in Serbia and is producing new social categories. She explores how a contested past is managed through the clashes of the local and the global memory cultures. She has been lecturing on the memory studies, conflict in the Former Yugoslav countries, Holocaust, genocide, and human rights at various Israeli Universities and Colleges. Her postdoctoral research at the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research, Haifa University deals with Memory Politics and Human Rights regime in International Relations. As the Fulbright- Rabin postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, in the coming year she is about to broaden her research to various forms of nationalism produced through memory politics and human rights in the Former Yugoslav states as well as in Israel and Palestine.

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Podcast: “Skopje 2014” and the Intersection of Authenticity, Continuity, and Antiquity in the Republic of Macedonia

REES_8Antiquization refers to the policy whereby government-sponsored nationalist discourse utilizes modern narratives of ancient descent to claim a direct link between the distant past and the present. In constructing an image of a ‘Macedonian’ past upon which the modern nation-state is derived, the ongoing VMRO-DPNE ‘Skopje 2014’ project forgoes authenticity while emphasizing antiquity. It does so by selecting certain historic figures and events at the expense of others to be represented as monumental lieux de memoire. These correspond to one of four loosely defined categories: (1) the ancient 4th century BCE Macedonian kingdom of Phillip II and empire of Alexander the Great; (2) introduction and spread of Christianity from the 4th to 9th centuries ACE; (3) 19th century literary and intellectual ‘Macedonian’ renaissance; and (4) revolutionary and military accomplishments of the late 19th early 20th centuries. Under the guise of cultural heritage and shared history, ‘Skopje 2014’ endeavors to create the appearance of a unified past within a multiethnic state by imposing a linear historic narrative connected to a mythicized golden age that is European, Christian, and Slavic. These historical, architectural, and archaeological juxtapositions reflect ongoing tension in the Balkans between national identity, ethnonationalism, and the past.

Katherine (Katie) Pompeani is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on questions of social inequality, health, and subsistence practices through the analysis of Bronze Age human skeletal remains from northern Serbia. Katie has participated in archaeological research and excavations in the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, and New York State. Her interest in Eastern Europe began as an undergraduate at Gettysburg College, where she participated in archaeological excavations at the Late Antique city of Golemo Gradiste in the Republic of Macedonia.  At the University of Pittsburgh, Katie’s research has been supported by several fellowships, including the Andrew W. Mellon Predissertation Fellowship, Foreign Language Acquisition Scholarship (FLAS), Hungarian Nationality Room Travel Grant, and a Social Sciences Dissertation Development Fellowship (SSDD). As a 2014-2015 FLAS recipient, Katie pursued language studies in Bosnian-Croatian Serbian, and took courses on nationalism and memory politics. Her research into state-sponsored policies of antiquization and memory politics in the Republic of Macedonia draws on a broader understanding of contemporary Eastern European ethnonationalism in the context of the use of material culture by political elites, specifically monuments, to appropriate or distort cultural memory.