Loss and Grievance Amidst Transitional Justice Processes in Post-War Balkans as a Politics

Stream: Panel 58 - Political Theory: Politics of Memory, Mourning and Repair 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm


This paper considers the politics that underlie the experience of loss as a set of accumulated grievances in the context of large-scale transitional justice implementations. The paper will explore the local experience and articulation of felt grievance from war victims, and the broader community in post war Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. The paper looks beyond the context of legal institutions and addresses that have dominated the approach to loss, lived sense of injustice, and restitution needs of citizens in each state. The paper is particularly concerned with the social consequences of how citizens have experienced, and in turn had to frame their loss and grievance in response to multiple processes inherited through international reforms for rehabilitating the state in order to manage the outcome of the 1990s Yugoslav war. In light of this, the paper draws on examples of local projects produced by local NGOs and activists. In particular, the paper will discuss the relationship of post-war refugee communities and their ongoing invisibility in the reforming states. It will also consider the impact of the present refugee crisis these communities are confronted with. For citizens in each state, the various political invisibilities become accumulated grievances with the state, and irredeemable loss. The paper argues that society becomes entangled in problems of the past, present geopolitical crisis, and myopic approaches, which generate rather than stem felt injustice.


Michelle Veljanovska (Presenter), University of Sydney, School of Sociology and Political Science
Currently the editor-in-chief for the Ukraine Democracy Initiative (UDI). Michelle is a field scholar of postwar transitioning societies. Her work covers political sociology, political anthropology, and criminology, focusing on life as ‘a politics of survival.’ Her research explores reconciliation initiatives and local citizen struggles in postwar Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia; where she has actively engaged with local actors and built networks for past 13 years. She consults, and lectures on: human rights discourse, reconciliation, social suffering, postwar societies, neoliberalism and citizenship, civil conflict, international humanitarian law, aid, mass-displacement, refugeehood, sexual violence during war, transitional justice, NGOs, social movements and protest.