Don’t forget to remember: collective memory of the Yugoslav Wars in present-day Serbia

Author(s): Sandra Obradović

Published in: Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology

Abstract: Between the years 1991-1995, three wars were fought on the territory of former Yugoslavia, which led to the fall of the supra-national state and a newfound emphasis on ethnic and national identities. Since then, collective memories in the ‘newly’ created nations have undergone tremendous change in attempts to clarify ‘who we were before and who we are now’. The current study looks at the present-day understandings of the past in Belgrade, Serbia. Through an analysis of history textbooks coupled with an inter-generational comparison of focus group data, the study attempts to account for both reified and lay representations of the past as well as any divergence that exists between them. The findings suggest that there is a close link between remembering and belonging, a connection that functions to frame identity in exclusive rather than inclusive terms. Through this process, where one version of the past is considered the only right one, critical attachment becomes equated with in-group detachment and attempts to acknowledge the transgressions of the in-group become silenced.

Citation: Obradović, S. (2016). Don’t Forget to Remember: Collective Memory of the Yugoslav Wars in Present-Day Serbia. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 22(1), pp.12-18.

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