deiana, maria andreana

A(nta)gonising Civil Society in BiH - Motives, Practices, and Results

Panel abstract: The panel aims to reflect upon the main theme of “competition and good society” in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. In particular, the proposed papers aim at differently enquiring into the operates and various roles covered by local civil society actors to assess the ways in which they are engaging with the post-Dayton political framework to propose (or not) themselves as engaged political agents (thus favouring competition understood as necessary for practising democracy). The papers are based on fieldworks conducted during the years 2010-2012 mostly in the cities of Mostar and Sarajevo. The three papers will profile different local NGOs working in the social and cultural spheres to highlight the challenges they face to become proactive political interlocutors. In particular, the papers will focus on the ways in which the activities proposed by the selected sample of NGOs fail to successfully engage with current (nationalist, divisive, and agonistic) discourses to reflect upon possible reasons of such a phenomenon.

The first paper (Piotr Goldstein) will address the dynamics and non-dynamics existent between different actors of Mostar’s civil society: the (stereo-)’typical’ NGOs, grassroots initiatives, old udru_enja gra_ana, and on-line groups. The aim of this paper is to explore how civil society actors compete (or not) to be heard/ to be left in peace, to attract/retain/share funding, to change something or not to change anything at all. The analysis will benefit from a comparative study with the city of Novi Sad (Serbia) to expand on possible scenarios and to attempt to understand the reasons behind highlighted different practices. The second paper (Giulia Carabelli) will discuss the urban polarisation of Mostar in relation to concepts of agonism and antagonism as understood by Aristotle. Thus, this paper will assess the work of a local platform for art production (Abart) as an attempt to complicate existing antagonistic dynamics in the social and political arenas in order to produce a new space in which an alternative voice could be presented. In particular, the paper will present a project implemented by Abart in 2010/2011 “(Re)collecting Mostar” to question how and the ways in which the sought alternative voice of Abart was (was not) heard in Mostar. The third and last paper (Maria Andreana Deiana) seeks to analyse opportunities and obstacles for women’s and feminist collective action in the context of post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina. It aims to address the local and international dynamics shaping women's activism and assess the challenges involved in the development of solidarities in the light of the legacy of conflict and the international strategies for building civil society.

Thursday 25 October 17:00-18:30 Panels VI, Panel 16 A(nta)gonising Civil Society in BiH - Motives, Practices, and Results (Hall 8)