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The Disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Ethnic Cleansing to Ethnified Governance


Alim Baluch

This book argues that the «international community» created and managed the dysfunctional state of Bosnia and Herzegovina by effectively rewarding ethnic cleansing, drawing up a transitional constitution which, in turn, generated a complex ethnifying polity incapable of independent reform. This constitution, which was only added as an annex to the Dayton Peace Agreement, has continued to encourage ethnification, understood in this book as the reproduction of imagined communities of descent.

While accepting that foreign interference was necessary to end the war in the late 1990s, the book offers a critical review of the actions of the Office of the High Representative of the International Community (OHR) and other foreign actors since that period. It includes meticulous examination of hundreds of OHR decisions, as well as secret diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks revealing how the US embassy intervened in the country's trade and foreign policy.

Drawing on a process-sociological perspective, the book interrogates the notion of ethnicity and offers a radical new perspective on post-war state-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Chapter 2: Why a Process Oriented Approach to Ethnified Multi-Level Governance is Essential


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Why a Process Oriented Approach to Ethnified Multi-Level Governance is Essential

Actors such as the OHR or state governments are processes. Their composition as well as their resources and ability to control outcomes are in constant change. Here it is assumed that it is not enough to simply acknowledge this in a meta-theoretical or philosophical context. It is not enough to state that they are processes and then get on with the same static language that permeates social sciences, even if they are meant to follow a social constructivist path. At the heart of this study lies the conviction that a genuinely process-oriented approach is crucial in order to address the research question. Such an approach concentrates on the structure of change rather than the result of change, the latter of which culminates in the mere description of an imaginary status quo. On a higher level of synthesis, the theoretical framework of this study follows a, yes, social constructivist approach. However, social constructivism comprises various strands, scholars and therefore assumptions that can contradict each other. Any social scientific study aimed at analysing how social phenomena are reproduced, while acknowledging that norms, identities and beliefs influence people’s behaviour, shares fundamental social constructivist assumptions. In this respect, the process sociological approach – as developed by Norbert Elias – can also be subsumed under social constructivism as it seeks to examine the construction and structure of processes like identity, states and other aspects of social relations...

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