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Citizens of an Empty Nation
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Citizens of an Empty Nation
Youth and State-Making in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Azra Hromadžić

248 pages | 6 x 9 | 7 illus.
Cloth 2015 | ISBN 9780812247008 | $65.00s | Outside the Americas £52.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Ethnography of Political Violence
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"An intimate and compellingly written ethnography of the lives of youth in postconflict Bosnia-Herzegovina, illuminating the depth and complexity of state politics as manifested and refracted in youths' lives."—Kimberley Coles, author of Democratic Designs: International Intervention and Electoral Practice in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

"International politicians sound great when they talk about 'multiculturalism' and 'integration,' but Azra Hromadžić takes them to school—specifically, to the Mostar Gymnasium, where the tensions, temptations, and limitations of an ethnically divided state are felt, around the tables, in the hallways, in the shared bathroom. This book combines critical insight and humane sensitivity in equal measures. It is a model for how postconflict ethnography should be performed."—Eric Gordy, author of Guilt, Responsibility, and Denial: The Past at Stake in Post-Milošević Serbia

"In this rich, reflexive, and carefully crafted ethnography of youth in a Bosnian high school existing in the space between between reunification and segregation, Azra Hromadžić captures the lived realities of her subjects' everyday lives in the context of ethnicized nationalisms and international peace-building. The book is a passionate plea to look beyond the certainties of fixed categories and explore the possibilities of restoring, however fleetingly, a discourse and practice of hope for a better future."—Paul Stubbs, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb

In the wake of devastating conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the polarizing effects of everyday ethnic divisions, combined with hardened allegiances to ethnic nationalism and the rigid arrangements imposed in international peace-building agreements, have produced what Azra Hromadžić calls an "empty nation." Hromadžić explores the void created by unresolved tensions between mandated reunification initiatives and the segregation institutionalized by power-sharing democracy, and how these conditions are experienced by youths who have come of age in postconflict Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Building on long-term ethnographic research at the first integrated school of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Citizens of an Empty Nation offers a ground-level view of how the processes of reunification play out at the Mostar Gymnasium. Hromadžić details the local effects of the tensions and contradictions inherent in the processes of postwar state-making, shedding light on the larger projects of humanitarian intervention, social cohesion, cross-ethnic negotiations, and citizenship. In this careful ethnography, the Mostar Gymnasium becomes a powerful symbol for the state's simultaneous segregation and integration as the school's shared halls, bathrooms, and computer labs foster dynamic spaces for a rich cross-ethnic citizenship—or else remain empty.

Azra Hromadžić teaches anthropology at Syracuse University.

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