There is an urgent need to consider the ongoing politics of silence, oblivion, and amnesia in what was once a part of Yugoslavia: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia to which a fourth element is central: “Republika Srpska” (“Serb Republic”). It is important to stress that in contrast with Austria and Belgium, or even Serbia, “Republika Srpska” is not a state, but an ethnically homogeneous territorial entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, with aspirations for separation. The construction of a new national identity in “Republika Srpska” is closely related to the national identity in Serbia and the negation of war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica (1995).
On November 21, 1995, the Dayton Peace Accords officially ended the three-and-a-half-year war, dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina into two semi-autonomous entities: the Bosniak-Croat “Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina” and the Serb “Republika Srpska.” “Republika Srpska” in this sense represents a paradigmatic example of a territorial and institutional entity built on ethnic cleansing, genocide, and turbo-nationalism. Both amnesia and the negation of these crimes, committed in the name of a “Greater Serbia,” support the reproduction of turbo-nationalism in its capacity of a general political discourse, and reflect its wider role in the post-socialist reconfiguration of the whole region.
There are about 7,500 people still missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a consequence of the war in Yugoslavia. Up to now, nearly 3,500 victims — mainly Bosniaks and Croats — have been found dead. During the war, 59 (concentration) camps were built around Prijedor. In late November 2013, the president of the Hague’s Int
ernational Criminal Tribunal for the space of Yugoslavia, Theodore Meron, made a visit to Tomašica, a mine near the town of Prijedor, which is believed to be the largest mass grave recently discovered on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina; yet, no Serbian media outlet covered his attendance. The Serbian public systematically acquires a false image of the recent past, which has certainly had and will continue to have consequences into the future.
The full depth of what we refer to here as turbo-nationalism becomes even more evident when using the term “turbo-fascism” for naming the same phenomena. It was coined (in 2000) by the late feminist theoretician from Serbia, Žarana Papić, who argued that “turbo-fascism” designates the violent, discriminatory processes of hegemonic and chauvinist nationalism evident during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, specifically the Serbian militaristic reality of that period. Asked in an interview about the use of the term “turbo-fascism” to describe Milosevic’s regime, Papić replied: “I know that Fascism is a historical term; that the history of Nazi Germany is not the same as that of Milošević’s Serbia. However, in post-modernist and feminist theory we speak of so-called sliding concepts, when a new epoch inherits with some additions concepts belonging to an earlier one. In my view, we should not fear the use of ‘big terms’ if they accurately describe certain political realities.” The “turbo-fascism” that has unfolded with the dismantling of Yugoslavia — where the prefix “turbo” refers to a specific cultural and political admixture in that region — can most clearly be traced in Serbian propaganda, demonizing the enemy for years before the genocide in Srebrenica became possible.
Belgrade Workshop “Post-war Nationalism, Memory and History”