The questions is more current then ever: The year 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the events that eventually led to the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia. The narratives of violence and war still echo across the Western Balkans region through ethno-centric policies, revisionist narration of history, denial of war crimes, nationalistic politics, and the neglection of the importance to deal with this common past.
The Balkan.Perspectives’ edition “What if Peace was Given a Chance?”, however, puts the spotlight on those individuals and organisations who stood against the warmongering, the idealisation of violence, and the nationalist politics of the last decades. Balkan.Perspectives dedicates space for reflection on these diverse movements and their common grounds, thereby seeking to elaborate on the importance of the peace and anti-war movements in Yugoslavia. At the same time, we also want to appreciate their legacy in the current activism and social movements. We strongly believe that the anti-war and peace movement experiences in the (post-)Yugoslav context reverberate in the present forms of civil society protests and activism in the region, as these initiatives “did not appear in a political vacuum. Rather, various (post-) Yugoslav anti-war activist movements appropriated and developed from dormant social networks that had been created through student, feminist, and environmentalist engagement in socialist Yugoslavia. Anti-war activism, in turn, served as platforms for generating social and material capital, which enabled the establishment of the present-day organisations devoted to human rights protection across the ex-Yugoslav space” (1)
The 16th edition of Balkan.Perspectives highlights specifically the role of women in the peace and anti-war movements in the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The contributions of Igo Rogova and Linda Gusia highlight the often-forgotten role of women’s activism and women’s protests in Kosovo in the 1990s, tracing the pertinent role of women in the fight for peace in Kosovo. At the same time, Nađa Duhaček and Daša Duhaček seek to explore why women played such a crucial role in the anti-war movement in Serbia in the 1990s. Naum Trajanovski analyses how North Macedonia became the “oasis of peace” in the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia and why this carries an ambivalent notion. The “Yutel for Peace” concert in the Zetra concert hall in Sarajevo in 1991 is a well-documented event of an anti-war protest, but Jelena Jevđenić and Mišo Vidović take us to another important anti-war protest - the “Yutel for Peace” concert in Banja Luka in the same year. Suada Kapić and Nikola Mokrović elaborate how the legacy of civic resistances in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in the 1990s still plays an important part in countering nationalism, supporting a sustainable form of peace, and further contributes to finding appropriate strategies in dealing with the past.
1 Bilić, Bojan (2012): We were gasping for Air, p 19