The destruction of specific buildings and monuments, cultural heritage sites or public infrastructure was a strategy during the violent conflicts in the region. Researchers have coined terms such as “urbicide”, “warscapes”, “memoricide” or “warchitecture” to describe this phenomenon. These terms emphasize that cities were not only the physical sites of fighting, “but architecture and urban space have also been adapted as military weaponry” .
However, it would have been naïve to assume that with the end of the open conflicts, war architecture would disappear. The contributions in the current Balkan.Perspectives edition provide a collection of analysis on how these traumas are still shaping memorialization in public spaces, and entire silhouettes of our cities in the Western Balkans. Thus, we seek to draw attention to the importance of engaging in active discussions on dealing with the past and commemoration in public space. We emphasize the long-term historical contexts of conflicts and trauma in the region and how these traumas construct ideas of living together, memorialization practices in public spaces, and spatial policies.
The Balkan.Perspectives editorial team strongly believes that the discussion about conflicts needs more than one perspective, because history must always have at least two faces and include multi-perspective approaches. If it has only one side, then there is something wrong: either with the history or the truth. In this Balkan.Perspectives edition we want to add another witness to the discussion about dealing with the past: a critical reflection on how trauma and violence are inscribed in (public) space creation, architecture, and spatial construction in the post-conflict societies of the Western Balkans, and how in this context they hinder an open, evidence-based, and multi-perspective approach to the past of the region.
The contributions for Balkan.Perspectives #17 include the ones Arbër Sadiki on the socio-political factors shaping the silhouette of Kosovo’s cities after the war of 1998/1999. Ares Shporta from the Lumbardhi Foundation in Prizren takes us on a journey through the cinematographic history of Kosovo and its importance for grassroots movements reclaiming space and raises the importance of connecting these movements with topics of dealing with the past. Filip Koneski’s contribution in two parts reflect on urban history, the present and future of Skopje. Ena Kukić elaborates on the various memory layers of the Vraca Memory Complex in Sarajevo, while Nermina Trbonja reflects on the mass erection of nationalistic and revisionist monuments in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Irina Subotić writes on the urban development plan and status quo of Belgrade and how this related to the current political situation in Serbia. Dr. Olga Manojlović Pintar confronts us with the “Four Theses on the Architecture of Trauma” in the Serbian and regional context.
In the name of the Balkan.Perspectives editorial team I wish you an interesting read.
Editor in Chief