This year’s Project on Peacebuilding consisted of participants between the ages of 17-35. This group was filled with thoughtful individuals who listened to one another as they learned about the war in Bosnia and its effect on the Prijedor municipality. Group members created space for processing the events of a difficult past and worked together towards a future filled with acceptance and peace for the communities of Prijedor, Omarska, Trnopolje, Kozarac, Kevljani, and Lubija. The project studied the concentrations camps of Trnopolje and Omarska in the context of the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. Participants had workshops on peace building, listened to survivors’ stories, collected community surveys on the area, and collaborated on memorialization for the areas. As the week progressed with workshops and seminars, it became apparent that the politics of memory came to the forefront of most of our major discussions.
Memory shapes our relationship to the past and our existence in the present moment. The idea of memory is threefold: personal, societal, and official. Personal memory colours one’s own personal experience of an event. This is apparent in the impact of the project on our own perceptions and experiences, as well as the impact of experiencing the war in Bosnia first hand on an individual level. Societal memory is created through a collective experience formed from the side of the war on which one found themselves. This creates an absolute truth for some, but as we learned, creates a refuted truth through another group’s eyes. Because of this disagreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina has no absolute truth that can be agreed upon by all of society which, in turn, has created conflict in historical accounts and collective memory. Lastly, official memory normally is agreed upon by the government officials and generally performed as “truth”. Unfortunately, in the Prijedor municipality, nationalistic monuments have been erected at former concentration camps; history has become a debate, and memorialization for the victims of crimes against humanity have been stifled.
Through this report, the Project on Peacebuilding group has created a “kaleidoscope of memory” in order to process the personal memories of the group, the societal memories of the local population, and the official memories that have become a point of contention throughout the country. In this way, the intricacies of this area and the politics of memory can be explored through the eyes of Bosnians, diaspora, internationals, and official accounts.
Download the full report here: POP Report 2018
Community Survey 2018
This is the third year of the Community Survey. POP participants have conducted the community survey in 2015, 2017, and 2018. The survey includes demographic questions (age, gender, ethnicity) in addition to questions about civic participation (registered to vote, donated to parties, participate in organizations). Other questions ask respondents about local perceptions of inter-ethnic relations and peacebuilding. In total, the community survey collected 154 responses in 2018.
This year, more people had a poor opinion of inter-ethnic programs than in previous surveys. For example, 39% of respondents in Kozarac described interethnic programs as poor in 2018, whereas only 10% did in 2015 and 2017. Similarly, in Prijedor, 26% reported poor opinions in 2018, whereas only 14% had previously.
Select Findings from 2018
- The economy is still the most important issue (58%), followed by education (16%), healthcare (9%), and inter-ethnic relations (6%).
- Corruption stands out as an important issue in Prijedor (14%)
- Drugs stands out as an important issue in Kevljani (10%)
- The majority of respondents had family abroad (65%), but not in Prijedor (49%).
- A very low percentage of people donate to political parties.
- Kevljani has a much higher percentage of retired people (20%).
- 83% of respondents had not participated in any peacebuilding activities in 2018.
- 81% of Kevljani were registered to vote, while 64% of Prijedor and only 44% of Kozarac.
- 52% of respondents rarely or never talk about politics with their family or friends.
- 57% of Kevljani always votes, while 37% of Prijedor and 31% of Kozarac.