History, especially recent history, is always a complex phenomenon, and writing history means simplifying it. Gathering oral history and dealing with social history allows us to understand past events beyond the scope of society or current politics. Listening to oral history is an opportunity to understand other people around us, what they went through and how their stories differ or intertwine with ours. Oral history gives us access to different layers of memory and an opportunity to understand more complexly the events of the past.", was one of the conclusions of today's conference by Miša Kapetanović (researcher, anthropologist, a postdoctoral fellow at St. Gallen University).
“The testimonies of individuals are a valuable historical source that provides us with important information about social circumstances and details from everyday life that other historical sources hardly or cannot offer us. Having access to the testimonies of individuals is a privilege. Individuals, like the whole of society, are considered to be historical entities. Memories are reflected from different positions and distances, and as such we have to analyse them, ”added Armina Galijaš - participant of the panel “Banja Luka, before, during and after the war”, Assistant Professor at the Center for Southeaster European Studies at the University of Graz, and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Zagreb.
Tamara Šmidling, activist and founder of the Peace Academy in Sarajevo, said that dealing with social history based on the personal stories of individuals is considered an extremely valuable approach that fills in the "white spots" of our memory policies, which, as a rule, avoid, suppress, silence or circumvent perspectives and narratives different from those dominant.
Panel discussions during the conference answered questions such as: Why are culture and politics of memory important? How do these transformations affect or change social relationships, memories, and more? Banja Luka: before, during and after the war. Participants in the panel discussions during the conference were also Miodrag Živanović (professor at the University of Banja Luka) and Željko Stanetić (director of the Vojvodina Civic Center) Srdjan Puhalo (psychologist) and Aleksandar Trifunović (journalist).
For now, sixteen interviews have been published on the digital platform of www.drustvenaistorijabl.info. The activists behind it hope that the number of oral testimonies will be far greater as their main goal is to make this an important tool for all those interested in the universal theme of war and peace, the transition, past, and future of this city, in academia, in public life, activism and the arts, because if "we want social change, we need to start where society is."