Peacebuilding in the Balkans

Peacebuilding in the Balkans: The View from the Ground Floor

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Peacebuilding in the Balkans
    Book Description:

    After suffering years of war, Bosnia is now the target of international efforts to reconstruct and democratize a culturally divided society. The global community's strategy has focused on reforming political institutions, influencing the behavior of elite populations, and cultivating nongovernmental organizations. But expensive efforts to promote a stable peace and a multiethnic democracy can be successful only if they resonate among ordinary people. Otherwise, such projects will produce fragile institutions and alienated citizens who will be susceptible to extremists eager to send them back into war.

    Paula M. Pickering challenges the conventional wisdom that common people are merely passive recipients of peacebuilding projects. Instead, in Peacebuilding in the Balkans, she shows how ordinary people, particularly minorities in Bosnia, understand elite rhetoric and actively shape reconstruction. Pickering's years of fieldwork-direct observation, interviews, and analysis of many surveys-has yielded a precise understanding of how ordinary citizens react to and influence peacebuilding programs in their neighborhoods, workplaces, municipal agencies, and other real-life social settings.

    The evidence suggests that international efforts to rebuild an inclusive Bosnia will be futile unless they pay sufficient attention to citizens' varying ties to ethnic groups, indigenous forms of civic activity, and the development of nondiscriminatory employment and responsive political institutions. Pickering's insights from reconstruction in the Balkans have important implications for peacebuilding elsewhere in Eurasia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6346-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: The View from Below
    (pp. 1-14)

    The international community has spent billions of dollars encouraging ordinary people, particularly those like Nela, now tendentiously considered a member of a ʺminority,ʺ to return to their homes of origin so that they can integrate into postwar Bosnia and help create a democratic and multiethnic state. Bosnia is just one of a group of states that includes Rwanda, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan, not to mention other former Yugoslav territories of Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo, where international actors are directing multifaceted reconstruction² and democratization projects. These regions have in common several traits: They are all recovering from war, they all...

  5. 1 Below the Surface
    (pp. 15-50)

    There is no simple flow of ideas or attitudes from elites to regular people; any depiction that presents the process as a monolithic or unidirectional one will inevitably fall short. Indeed, minorities, like anyone else, interact with the environment around them in many ways, and it is these interactions that shape their attitudes toward reconstruction. If we are to understand the strategies that such people use, we have to place them within a larger dynamic context, a context that both imposes limits on them and provides opportunities for them. Robert Kaiser and Elena Nikiforova (2006) have expanded on the work...

  6. 2 Self-Understandings versus Power
    (pp. 51-84)

    Davorʹs account of his positive interactions with other ethnic groups confounds the picture anticipated by prominent theories on identity and behavior in deeply divided societies. How can this be? One virtue of the multilevel network model for the postwar period is that it clarifies the forces with which ordinary minorities interact to form their sense of self. These forces also help determine both where they fit within a radically altered society and what institutions they find helpful for reintegration. Interviews and observations of Bosnians living in two towns reveal how ordinary people generate their self-understandings and then refine them through...

  7. 3 The Dilemma of Migration
    (pp. 85-110)

    In chapter 2, we saw how individuals living in areas dominated by another ethnic group try to forge self-understandings that often do not fit the ethnically based identities promoted by the nationalizing state and national-level minority activists. But what goes into the decision about whether to relocate, where to rebuild their lives? The migration decisions that Bosniaʹs minorities have made—to move within Bosnia, to stay put, or to move next door to their putative homeland—reveal a great deal about forces shaping reconstruction in Bosnia.¹ On the one hand, ordinary people with prewar homes in areas where they are...

  8. 4 Sites for Building Bridges
    (pp. 111-138)

    The decision of minorities to remain in their homes, whether they waited out the war there or returned after it, is only the first step in an arduous process of reintegration. A key goal of the transnational actorsʹ reconstruction project for Bosnia and other areas of the Balkans is for minorities to rebuild their lives in their homes of origin. Few have studied how ordinary people react to the new institutions designed by transnational actors to assist reintegration. While transnational actors can provide the seeds to encourage reintegration, they can do little else. The policies favored by elites of the...

  9. 5 The Plague of Politics
    (pp. 139-164)

    If minorities are to build the bridging social capital necessary for reintegration, they need partners from the majority group who are willing to play down ethnic divisions. How have attitudes among the majority group about interethnic relations changed since the end of the war? And what might make it difficult to reduce intolerance and realize the inclusive statebuilding project of transnational actors? As Jovanka says above, in an ethnically mixed space in Bosnia, everything is political, everything is controversial. Of particular interest in this chapter is how Bosnian citizens who live as minorities conceive of politics and participate in formal...

  10. 6 Implications for Eurasia
    (pp. 165-188)

    I have used field research and a dynamic model to understand the processes of reintegration and peacebuilding after war. What are the theoretical and practical implications raised by the multilevel model? What do these findings mean for other postconflict areas in Eurasia?

    If we want to understand how peacebuilding projects affect people, we should start with how people react to them. Postconflict institutions need an honest ʺbuy inʺ from both elites and non-elites if they are to succeed. To the extent that either half of that equation feels hoodwinked into acquiescing to the new system, it is likely to fail....

  11. Appendix A Methods
    (pp. 189-199)
  12. Appendix B Pseudonyms and Demographics for Bosnians
    (pp. 200-207)
  13. Appendix C Structure for Ethnographies
    (pp. 208-209)
  14. Appendix D Interview Protocol
    (pp. 210-211)
  15. Appendix E Predicting the Return of Minorities to Prewar Homes
    (pp. 212-213)
  16. Appendix F Explaining Religious Intolerance
    (pp. 214-214)
  17. Appendix G Predicting Votes for Moderate Parties in Bosnia in 2001
    (pp. 215-216)
  18. References
    (pp. 217-234)
  19. Index
    (pp. 235-242)