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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 3: Bosnia and Herzegovina – Evolution of a Fragile Polity


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Bosnia and Herzegovina – Evolution of a Fragile Polity

This chapter examines the historical, political and social developments that led to the establishment of the OHR in BiH. Illuminating these developments from a process-oriented perspective is crucial to grasping the structural features of ethnification that permeate the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). Therefore, this chapter examines some of the processes and structural conditions that enabled the emergence of the Bosnian Wars (1992–1995). Presenting these wars as figurations, this chapter demonstrates how the DPA is shaped by territorial warfare, violent deportations and ethnifications, thereby hindering citizens and international institutions to de-ethnify politics and society in BiH.

First, this chapter examines the emergence of the three predominant imagined communities of descent in BiH. Second, the development of BiH as a Yugoslav republic is delved into with a focus on the economic crisis of the 1980s. Third, the Bosnian Wars of the 1990s are addressed from a process sociological point of view, thus depicting the irredentist campaigns as the background against which the ethnification of polities and politics in post-war BiH can be analysed.

3.1. The trichotomy of predominant ethnifications in BiH

The term trichotomy is not intended to convey the notion that only three ethnifications exist in BiH. The three predominant ethnifications (i.e. Bosniak, Serb and Croat) reproduce a tendency to politically ← 77 | 78 → marginalize individuals who are not part of these ethnifications. While there are citizens who...

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