2011 marked twenty years since the beginning of the violent dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, fifteen years since the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and eleven years since the end of the war in Kosovo. In the successor states of the former Yugoslavia the process of coming to terms with the past has not yet really begun, or as some would say is just about to unfold. Conflicting memories and selective narratives of the recent post-Yugoslav wars, the wars of the 1990s, are dominant as the history continues to be an instrument for political manipulation and ethnic divisions in the hands of political elites. These debates on memory are not limited to the recent wars of the 1990s but overlap with memories of the brutal atrocities that took place on Yugoslav territory during the Second World War In the post-war moment in the post-Yugoslav states, as intertwined with the creation of new socially constructed national identities, collective memory and its formation generate fascinating dynamics and research. In these processes of the creation of new menomnic communities, master narratives of martyrdom and victimization are constructed, through new calendars, new commemorative rituals and new “sites” of memory. This paper will briefly introduce these processes mentioned above, in order to discuss the ethics, challenges and dilemmas in teaching memory in the context of a study abroad program in this case, in peace and conflict studies in the Balkans. As part of the SIT study abroad program in the Balkans, students visit sites of memory such as Jasenovac (Croatia), Srebrenica (Bosnia-Hercegovina), and the Jashari family memorial complex in Prekaz (Kosovo). The paper will analyze these visits as discussing the impact they have on students’ understanding of not only peace and conflict studies, and the contribution of memory studies to processes of conflict transformation and reconciliation, but also of their own identities and citizenship. The paper will discuss the dilemma of the ethics and value of visiting such sites as part of an academic curriculum. It will do so by addressing the question ‘do such visits only offer the opportunity of ‘regarding the pain of others’ as the title of Susan Sontag’s essay on the representation of atrocities? Or may they offer an opening to rethink civil engagement and citizenship as in Ariella Azoulay’s groundbreaking work ‘The Civil Contract of Photography’?
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/orli_fridman/26/