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Working Paper on Peace, Memory and Cultural Heritage

We are very pleased to announce the publication of the second working paper of the Research Cluster on Peace, Memory and Cultural Heritage, a group of peace & conflict researchers united by an interest in the nexus of peacebuilding, the politics of memory and cultural heritage. (
This working paper examines the politics of art in public space in Sarajevo since the official end of the war in 1995. Through interviews with artists and curators and analyses of a number of artworks, the paper traces how art attempts to reclaim the public space by provoking political commentary and creating new forms of sociality. Key themes have been nationalism, the role of the international community during and after the war in Sarajevo, the return to forgotten emancipatory history and heritage, and post-war reconstruction. There has also been a significant production of feminist art dealing with women’s history, contemporary statehood as well as with emancipation of women and issues of unpaid labour. In view of the fact that the complexity of everyday life in Sarajevo since the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 has not changed significantly, the paper asks whether art can create commons and open up space for political commentary as acts of collective action. It argues that in a city in which important public cultural and art institutions remain closed, and the public space is daily narrowed by new “capital projects”, it is important to think about art as an urban practice that uses public space as emancipation for those who are less visible or even invisible. The potentiality of art is not only to create places of commons – unusual, debatable and charged with questions and answers – but also to open up places for new knowledge. The artworks discussed in this paper help us to understand how art leads to political action, but also how political action evokes art.
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