Tuzla – a changing memorial culture for a new vision of Bosnia

A new research film by the European CRIC Research Project analyses the transformation of a city’s cultural heritage to find a more united vision for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Conflict Background

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In this film, CRIC researcher, Dr. Ioannis Armakolas, discusses post-conflict heritage reconstruction and memorialisation in the city of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The research for this film forms part of a wider examination by the European CRIC project of the relationship between identity politics and physical sites of remembrance in the post-war environment of Bosnia Herzegovina, where conflict between ethnic groups still exists, if only in another political and non-violent form. Cultural heritage sites have been investigated to see how they are used and or misused by ethno-nationalist political elites in an on-going ethnic conflict.

Tuzla had a unique history in the 1992-95 Bosnian war and its aftermath. It is a prime example of a political elite and a local community struggling to prevent nationalism and division from taking root despite ethnic turbulence and war dominating an entire region. In the post-Bosnian war period, the local authorities reconstructed Tuzla’s Slana Banja memorial complex by combining socialist regime heritage with 1992-95 war memorials. The reconstructed Slana Banja is an important example of how heritage management has been used to try to promote a political vision for a less-ethnically divided Bosnia. It is also a site that goes against the dominant societal trends of putting emphasis on ethnic and religion-orientated elements of identity in post-war Bosnia.

For a more detailed research presentation on the Tuzla case study, please click here.

About the CRIC Project
CRIC stands for Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities after Conflict. It is a multi-disciplinary project which investigates the relationship between cultural heritage, conflict and identity.

This project involves collaboration between nine European universities and NGOs researching case studies in Bosnia, Spain, France, Cyprus, and Germany, which represent different types of conflict dating from World War I to the present day.

Across Europe, national and regional identities are in the process of being formed and are influenced by local and regional histories. There are many ways of approaching and studying these relationships; this project examines how the cultural heritage, both material and symbolic, is involved in the reconstruction of identities following conflict.

History records many instance of damage and destruction of cultural heritage in times of war. Much of this damage is accidental, even inevitable; but we have also witnessed a striking increase in the deliberate targeted destruction of the cultural heritage of others, a destruction that apparently aims to inflict moral and psychological damage. Recent conflicts in Europe, as well as abroad, have propelled this issue to the foreground.

The CRIC project looks, therefore, at two key questions:

  1. What conditions and ideologies inspire the destruction of cultural heritage?
  2. What consequences arise at local, national, and regional levels as a result of the destruction and subsequent reconstruction of that heritage?

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.

To watch another film by the CRIC Project, entitled ‘Mostar – heritage reconstruction in a divided city’, please click here.

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