The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) was formally concluded with the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995. Indeed, it can now be said to be a ‘post-war’ case in that large-scale violence has stopped since, while, at the same time, the country is still dealing with the legacies of the war.
Social divisions, inequalities, poverty, and discrimination continue to pose challenges to citizens’ everyday lives, and over twenty years of international intervention has done little to alleviate such issues.
However, the arts scene has long played a key role in the former Yugoslavia. Instead of being marginalised during the war as a ‘luxury’, the arts have enjoyed particular vibrancy during times of destruction and fighting. Particularly in Sarajevo, the theatres were full during the siege, with people risking their lives to watch plays like ‘Waiting for Godot’, which so adequately represented what many of them felt – the waiting for the violence to end (see research by (Zelizer 2003; Kappler 2014).
The analysis of the Bosnian case builds on those analyses, while expanding it through a focus on specific projects in the light of their role in the post-war peace formation process. We investigate the extent to which the arts are playing an important role in the articulation of social grievances as well as the formation of alternative socio-political agendas.
In that, we are curious to shed light on the tension between arts projects that tap into the logic of division as well as those projects that aim imagine a ‘different’ society and propose alternative fictions of a brighter future.