Historieundervisning som erindringsarena. Brug af historie, sprog og religion til etnisk adskillelse og konstruktion af en umulighedsdiskurs i Bosnien-Hercegovina

PhD defence (in Danish) with Selma Bukovica Gundersen.


History Teaching as an Arena of Conflicting Memories. The Uses of History, Language and Religion for Ethnic Segregation and the Construction of a 'Discourse of Impossibility' in Post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina

This thesis examines the consequences of the Dayton Peace Agreement from 1995 for the inter-ethnic relations today, by focusing on educational system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This study deals with the one of the key issues related to reconciliation and reintegration processes following a internal conflict: how the violent past is taught in school, and how school institution with its socializing and disciplining practices, prepares the new generations to become citizens of a multicultural democratic society. The analysis is inspired by the concept of governmentality and builds upon policy documents and comprehensive empirical material, including classroom observation, and interviews with teachers and other actors in the educational field in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Additionally, essays written by elementary school pupils have been analysed in order to gain insight into young people's sense of belonging to the country and their attitudes towards the country’s violent past.

As most studies on teaching history focus on educational documents and textbooks, this study attempts to gain the insights into power struggles of collective memories and identity formation that takes place in the field of education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Results from this study show how the school categorizes pupils in complex ways and with the use of language, history and religion, reduces their everyday social interactions. The study argues that the violent conflict of the 1990s has been transformed into a discursive war, and representatives of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, as well as religious communities, now with nonviolent tools, are maintaining the conflict and the system of separation, as well as their positions of power. The analysis shows how schoolteachers and pupils navigate the conflicting memory narratives and opposing expectations from international, ethno-political and religious actors, negotiate dominant narratives, and challenge the dominant patterns. Results indicate that a more inclusive teaching practice and democratization of the school's memory politics have the opportunity to develop in classrooms, and emphasizes the importance of increased awareness on teachers' roles in dealing with the violent past. Using a concept discourse of impossibility, the thesis challenges the assumptions and practices that, since the beginning of the war, have become increasingly accepted and normalized, not only by the local governments and the population, but also by the international community.