Trouble in the Balkans
Sumantra Bose

Seminar Introduction

For over a century, the Balkans has been a region of simmering tension, sporadic violence and localised dissent. Lying as it does on the faultline between the Ottoman and the Habsburg empires, the area was always destined to be squeezed as one or other great power flexed its muscles. However, this does not explain fully why the balance of power in the Balkan states should consistently prove to be so volatile and why the region appears to descend into chaos at the merest hint of regional instability.

The worst outbreak of violence erupted in Bosnia in 1992, following the disintegration of Yugoslavia. There are many misconceptions about the war in Bosnia that followed. Although over a decade has now passed, the causes and exact nature of the conflict remain shrouded by popular myths and confusion. Many of the problems that the region has faced since the end of war were due to fatal misunderstandings of the situation: peace plans faltered and broke down time and again.

In this seminar, Sumantra Bose considers the conflict in Bosnia. He begins by exploring the explosive historical legacy of the area and then, in a series of interviews with Fathom, he addresses the central questions. Was it a conflict over territory, religion or race? How could communities which had apparently existed in peace clash so suddenly and with such ferocity? Where exactly will the road to peace lead and, perhaps most importantly, will the lessons of history be learned or will the twenty-first century see yet more trouble in the Balkans?

  • Session 1 A Zone of Violence? Yugoslavia in Perspective
  • Session 2 Bosnia: The Origins of the Conflict
  • Session 3 Untangling the Truth: The War in Bosnia
  • Session 4 Bosnia: Peace and Reconciliation
  • Session 5 Building Bridges in Mostar: Microcosm of a Conflict
Learning Objectives:
  • Describe the particular historical origins of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • Identify the various players in the conflict and their political and military aims.
  • Describe the various peace initiatives following the war, and their efficacy.
  • Explain how the town of Mostar serves as a microcosm of the conflict in Bosnia.
  • Identify and explode the myths and misconceptions surrounding the conflict in the Balkans.

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