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Hierarchy and canonization of memory

Course: Memory and its role in conflict and conflict transformationLecturer: Orli Fridman Hierarchy and Canonization of Memory: Adaptation of Historiography to Socio-political Identity Construction Course participant: Jasmina Gavrankapetanović-Redžić, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina In...

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Family memories

Kaja HaelbichHamburg, Germany In our course "Understanding Internal Dynamics of Societies in Conflict" we started to engage in the topic of Israel Palestine conflict by talking about memories. We discussed different kinds...

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Religion and Nationalism

Instructor: Vjekoslav Perica

Course Description:

Religion and Nationalism do not always lead together to war, but we find them interacting in many serious international conflicts and civil wars, not infrequently in cases of genocide and so-called ethnic cleansing.  Religion is a pre-modern, old institution of civilization which changes much more frequently than religions institutions are ready to acknowledge and for some nonrecognition of socio-historical changes is a key article of faith.  Nationalism is a modern ideology that advocates the creation of specific societal organization -- nation states.  It unites individuals and groups through patriotic myths and rituals and the educational school system of national history, language and culture, and develops the awareness among citizens of the common origins, common historical experience, special role and significant accomplishments among other nations and differences between them.  Religion by itself and as a substitute, derivative, and instrument of nationalism, can but does not need to have an important role in the creation of a nation -- this needs to be considered for each case.  However, this course will concern those cases - national movements and nations - in which the religious dimensions of nationalism are emphasized and in which complex conflicts have resulted in which both factors were active.  Examples of such nationalisms exist in India, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Palestine and elsewhere.  It is also in the region of the former Yugoslavia states and states created by the collapse of multiethnic and multiconfessional Yugoslavs and its replacement by ethnic and ethno-confessional nationalisms with which this course will be most concerned.

Main Topics:

  • What is nationalism?  Why are religions "national" and nationalism "religious"? 
  • Nationalism, religion, and ethnicity. 
  • Religious dimensions of nationalism: symbols, myths and patriotic rituals, selective historical memory, commemoration, the sacralization of politics and the state, cults of political leaders. 
  • Examples of "religious nationalism" in the world (in detail: Northern Ireland and India-Pakistan). 
  • The role of religion in national movements within Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks. 
  • Religion and nationalism in the first Yugoslav state. 
  • Religion and nationalism in socialist Yugoslavia. 
  • Religion in the pre-war crisis and war. 
  • The role of religion as a mobilizing instrument of nationalist movements and legitimizing mechanism of government in the post-Yugoslav states.  Peaceful and humanitarian action in international, interethnic, and interconfessional conflicts.

Goals and methodology:

Through a brief theoretical introduction and comparative analysis as well as detailed analysis of the case of former Yugoslavia, the course will enable the participants to understand the phenomenon of nationalism and religion and explain the conditions under which their interaction develops and the resulting consequences.  After introductory lectures, the participants based on selected texts and other sources will lead discussion directed by the course leader, discuss specific topics in working groups and prepare a final essay on an arranged topic.


  • Excerpts from the instructor's lectures
  • Ernest Renan, "What is a nation?"
  • Historijski mitovi na Balkanu : zbornik radova. Prijevodi tekstova s engleskog Senada Kreso ; glavni i odgovorni urednik Husnija Kamberovic. Sarajevo : Institut za istoriju, 2003. (Pal Kolsto, "Uvod" i poglavlje Vjekoslav Perica "Uloga crkava u konstrukciji...").
  • Vjekoslav Perica. Balkanski idols : religion and nationalism in Yugoslav states
  • Sveti Petar i Sveti Sava. Sakralni simboli kao metafore povijesnih promjena. (Beograd: Bibiloteka xx vek, 2009 (izabrani dijelovi);
  • "The most Catholic nation in Europe? Church, State and Society in Contemporary Croatia", Religion, state & society, 4/2006.
  • Srdan Vrcan,  Vjera u vrtlozima tranzicije, Split, 2000 (izabrani dijelovi).
  • Ivan Cvitkovic, Konfesija u ratu (izabrani dijelovi).
  • Dino Abazovic, Za naciju i za Boga, (izabrani dijelovi).
  • Alija Izetbegovic, Islamska deklaracija (izabrani dijelovi).
  • Medina Delalic i Suzana Sacic, Balkan bluz. Poglavlja: 1, 6, 15, prema feljtonu iz E-novina 06.11.2009
  • "Demokratija i religija" izbor tekstova, Maribor/Beograd 2003.

Understanding elements of collective violence and mass crimes

(with the Yugoslav and Rwandan case - in the context of the Great Lakes Region)

Vlasta Jalusic
Tonci Kuzmanic

Course description:

The course aims at a deeper understanding of conflict escalation in the transitional periods, how they eventually cumulate in massive violent events and what consequences do these events have for the later forms of citizenship and political responsibility. It is focusing on the massive collective violence accompanied by mass atrocities, their preparation and acting out, and the post-conflict de-escalation periods in cases such as former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - the latter in the context of the Great Lakes region. It is based on the premise that discourses of collective identity and the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity and religion are key to understand the legitimizing ideologies of violence. The course pays a special attention to the ways of coming to terms with the past massive collective crime, the issues of collective guilt and responsibility, and their framing of the present and the future.

The empirical base of the course - cases former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - are selected by virtue of them having seen violent, "community" conflict (within a state or in the process of state dissolution and reformation) with the strong gender and ethnic/race dimension in the process of preparation. They both symbolically reflect the ideological claim that certain groups, constructed as essentially different cannot live together, each thus denying the "others" citizenship and the fundamental "right to have rights" (Arendt).

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Memory and its role in Conflict and Conflict Transformation

Course Instructor: Orli Fridman, SIT Study Abroad (Balkans) and MA program in Conflict Studies, Singidunum University (Belgrade)

This course will explore the role and contribution of Social Memory Studies to the study of Conflict Analysis and Conflict Transformation.  The way societies collectively remember and forget is central to the understanding of dynamics of conflict.  The way entire communities (and not just individuals) preserve and remember the past, commemorate it, or deny and obliterate it, can deepen our understanding of societies in conflict and even more so, of conflict transformation and its practices.


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