How Post-Conflict Societies Deal with History
4 How They Managed to Deal with the Dark Past in Finland, South Africa and Bosnia-Herzegovina
149 4 How They Managed to Deal with the Dark Past in Finland, South Africa and Bosnia- Herzegovina Different Conflicts – Shared Myths After a disastrous conflict, a history war looms over a community. A unify- ing grand story to reconcile the divisions is a vain dream. Only open dialogue between conflicting memories constitutes a potential for reconciliation. In this study, the foundations and prospects for such a dialogue were compared in three conflict-stricken societies. Finland provided a long perspective of three generations affected by a tragic national conflict, whereas in South Africa and Bosnia-Herzegovina only the first post-conflict generation was coming of age at the time of the study. The healing strategies differed between the countries. While silence and forgetting were re- lied on in Finland, South Africa offered an example of forgiveness as the way to create reconciliation. Bosnia-Herzegovina proved to be a special case of ambiva- lence in regard to reconciliation. The dilemma of Bosnia-Herzegovina was approached here by comparing vari- ous aspects of the three conflicts. The first aspect was the nature of the conflict. The Finnish Civil War was a class conflict, the South African struggle for and against apartheid was a race conflict and the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992– 5 an ethno-religious conflict. Do these differences explain the success or failure of reconciliation? Class struggle was an acute issue after the Russian revolution of 1917. A Red scare brought panic to the whole of Europe, not least to Finland. Social class as a divisive...
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