Transitional Justice, Domestic Change and the Role of the International Community
Ana Ljubojević - The Vukovar and Ovčara Trials and Their Influence on Popular Narratives about the War in Croatia and Serbia
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The Vukovar and Ovčara Trials and Their Influence on Popular Narratives About the War in Croatia and Serbia
Recent history in Serbia and Croatia is more about each nationality’s collective memory rather than common factual history. Mutually exclusive ‘truths’ about war and the committed atrocities quickly developed and were used by political elites and mass media for the creation of new national narratives that fragmented post-war societies. Other historical records were created by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and domestic courts prosecuting war crimes.1
This chapter analyses the impact of transitional justice mechanisms on the historical narratives and the creation of collective memory about the war. Taking Brooks and Gewritz’s methodological approach, law is analysed here not as set of rules and policies, but as a source of “stories, explanations, performances, linguistic exchanges – as narratives and rhetoric.”2 Furthermore, law is given a dimension of “cultural discourse through which social narratives are structured and suppressed.” Thus, attention is given more to the actual facts than legal rules of the procedure, and to the way language is used as much as to the idea expressed. While shaping reality through language, law uses distinctive linguistic methods, forms, and expressions and requires strategies of interpretation. During a trial, the predominant historical narrative of the audience may be constantly questioned and challenged so that ‘reality’ is always divided into various versions of truth. The popularity of such a...
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