Mostar – heritage reconstruction in a divided city

May 2, 2012 10:41 am

A new research film by the European CRIC Research Project analyses the unexpected outcomes of heritage reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, twenty years after the outbreak of war.

Researchers from the European CRIC Research Project (Identity and Conflict) have made a number of short films documenting the complex impact of the destruction and reconstruction of significant heritage sites after conflict over the last four years in five countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. The films were made at low cost as an introduction to forthcoming book chapters and to give an overview of the project’s work to a general audience. Universities in the UK are to use the films for teaching and its hoped they will be of use to colleagues in other European teaching institutions.

  • To visit the CRIC Research Project’s YouTube channel, please click here.

In the first of these films selected by TransConflict, “Mostar – heritage reconstruction in a divided city”, CRIC researcher, Dr. Ioannis Armakolas, analyses the post-conflict construction of cultural heritage in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He discusses both the unexpected outcomes of reconstruction after the war, and demonstrates the complexity of international involvement in this process.The rebuilding of the iconic 16th century Old Bridge of Mostar was the most prominent and well-publicised international effort for the support of reconstruction of war-ravaged heritage in the Balkans.

The “new” Old Bridge was to be a powerful symbol of reconciliation after civil strife, and through this project the international community sought to promote its vision for a new peaceful and multi-ethnic Bosnia. However, the reconstruction of the Old Bridge and other heritage in the city became contested. Ethnic and political conflict among Mostar’s main groups continued, not least through competition over heritage and war memorialisation. This film analyses the idea that cultural heritage reconstruction can become a means of prolonging conflict through non-violent methods.

The CRIC Research Project is funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme.

  • For further information about other CRIC research in Bosnia, please click here.
  • For more detailed research analysis, please visit CRIC’s Vimeo channel by clicking here.

CRIC (Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities after Conflict)
Project background:

Recent conflicts in Europe, as well as abroad, have brought the deliberate destruction of the heritage of others, as a means of inflicting pain, to the foreground. With this has come the realisation that the processes involved – and thus the long-term consequences – are poorly understood. Heritage reconstruction is not merely a matter of design and resources – at stake is the re-visioning and reconstruction of people’s identities.

This project has investigated the ways the destruction and subsequent selective reconstruction of the cultural heritage impact on the way societies recover from war. With case studies in five European countries, the films presented by CRIC researchers discuss the following questions:

  • What conditions and ideologies inspire the destruction of cultural heritage and what is selected for destruction?
  • What are the consequences at local, national and regional levels of such destruction and the subsequent reconstruction of parts of people’s heritage?
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