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Exploring inclusive victimhood narratives: the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7869-1831
2023 (English)In: Third World Quarterly, ISSN 0143-6597, E-ISSN 1360-2241, Vol. 44, no 8, p. 1770-1789Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Narratives are essential tools for communicating thoughts about competitive and inclusive victimhood socially and politically. In reconciliation processes, promoting narratives of inclusive victimhood (an understanding that ‘we all suffered together’) has been suggested as one way to overcome competitive victimhood (the idea that one ethnoreligious group or nation is the sole or primary victim in a conflict or war). However, the notion of inclusive victimhood remains understudied in post-war contexts in which exposure to violence was relatively imbalanced between former adversaries. This article traces the potential narrative variation from competitive to inclusive victimhood in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. It draws on (1) the competitive victimhood typology as an analytical tool and (2) a mapping of narrative sites as a methodological tool for tracing collective victimhood. The article scrutinises less competitive and inclusive accounts of victimhood identities in Bosnia-Herzegovina by examining the narratives that recognise outgroup victimhood and acknowledge ingroup responsibility for harmdoing. It suggests that there is potential for peaceful coexistence realised through the narrative of shared suffering, especially in post-war contexts where the exposure to violence was not entirely unidirectional. However, shared responsibility is less likely to be observed when the exposure to violence was highly asymmetrical.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2023. Vol. 44, no 8, p. 1770-1789
Keywords [en]
Inclusive victimhood, narratives, Bosnia-Herzegovina, reconciliation, peace
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-51446DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2023.2205579ISI: 000982938600001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85158881067OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-51446DiVA, id: diva2:1755700
Available from: 2023-05-09 Created: 2023-05-09 Last updated: 2023-09-20Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Analyzing Competitive Victimhood: Narratives of recognition and nonrecognition in the pursuit of reconciliation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Analyzing Competitive Victimhood: Narratives of recognition and nonrecognition in the pursuit of reconciliation
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Att analysera competitive victimhood : Narrativ om erkännande och icke-erkännande i strävandet mot försoning
Abstract [en]

This dissertation analyzes the narrative manifestation of competitive victimhood and its variations within reconciliation processes. Competitive victimhood (CV) emerges when opposing groups assert themselves to be the sole or primary victims of conflict or use their historical suffering to rationalize ingroup transgressions. This study explores the notion of CV in four relational settings with various levels of violence, ranging from low-level conflict to civil war and mass atrocities, each having a different temporal proximity to violent incidents: Turkish–Armenian relations, relations between Catholic Republicans and Protestant Unionists in Northern Ireland, and both Bosniak–Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat–Bosniak relations in Bosnia andHerzegovina. The data analyzed include 60 interviews, public opinion polls, political party manifestos, political statements, NGO reports, documents, and memory sites.The research investigates narratives that convey perceptions of outgroup suffering and the perpetration of harm against outgroups. In so doing, it underscores the challenging relationship between the recognition of outgroup victimhood and acknowledgment of harm the ingroup has perpetrated on others, resulting in five categories that indicate varying levels of competitiveness: revengeful victimhood, strong–CV, mid–CV, weak–CV, and inclusive victimhood. This novel analytical framework facilitates observation of the manifestation of different levels of CV in conflict-to-peace transitions, as well as analysis of empirical examples representing variation from highly competitive to more inclusive victimhood. The weak–CV and inclusive victimhood categories also enable identification of the potential for memory-sharing in ethnonational groups’ conflict- and war-related narratives. A reflexive comparative analysis of case studies highlights the presence of CV across all cases, despite variations in the level of violence and temporal proximity to its occurrence. Findings reveal the importance of considering two factors in analyzing competitive victimhood: the symmetry/asymmetry of exposure to violence and contemporary political power struggles between ethnonational groups.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling analyserar den narrativa förekomsten av competitive victimhood (CV), det vill säga konkurrens mellan grupperna i en konflikt om vilken av dem som är det huvudsakliga offret, inom försoningsprocesser. Competitive victimhood uppstår när motståndargrupper utmålar sig som de enda eller de primära offren i en konflikt eller när de använder sitt historiska lidande för att rationalisera överträdelser som begåtts av den egna gruppen. Avhandlingen undersöker både sammanhang med låg konfliktnivå och kontexter som präglats av inbördeskrig och massvåld, där olika lång tid har gått sedan våldsamheterna. Föreställningen om competitive victimhood undersöks i fyra relationella kontexter: turkisk-armeniska relationer, relationer mellan katolska republikaner och protestantiska unionister på Nordirland, samt bosniakisk-bosnienserbiska och bosnienkroatisk-bosniakiska relationer i Bosnien och Hercegovina. Den bygger på 60 intervjuer, opinionsundersökningar, partiprogram, politiska uttalanden, rapporter från icke-statliga organisationer, dokument och minnesplatser. Avhandlingen undersöker narrativ som förmedlar uppfattningar om utgruppers lidande och utövandet av skada mot utgrupper. Avhandlingen lyfter fram den svåra relationen mellan erkännandet av utgruppens offerskap och erkännandet av den skada som den egna gruppen har orsakat andra. Fem kategorier konstrueras som visar på varierande nivåer av konkurrens: hämndlystet offerskap, starkt CV, medelstarkt CV, svagt CV samt inkluderande offerskap. Detta nya analytiska ramverk underlättar observationer av förekomsten av olika nivåer av competitive victimhood i övergångar från konflikt till fred. Vidare erbjuder ramverket ett sätt att analysera empiriska exempel som representerar en variation från starkt konkurrerande till mer inkluderande offerskap. Kategorierna för svagt CV och inkluderande offerskap gör det möjligt att identifiera potential för delade minnen i etnonationella gruppers konflikt- och krigsrelaterade narrativ. En reflexiv jämförande analys av fallstudierna visar att competitive victimhood förekommer i samtliga av de undersökta fallen, trots variation i våldets nivå och närhet i tid. Resultaten visar på vikten att ta hänsyn till två faktorer vid analyser av competitive victimhood: symmetri/asymmetri i våldsutsatthet och nutida politiska maktkamper mellan etnonationella grupper. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2023. p. 187
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 223
Keywords
competitive victimhood, post-conflict, reconciliation, ethnonational relations, narratives, competitive victimhood, postkonflikt, försoning, etnonationella relationer, narrativ
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-52358 (URN)978-91-89504-52-3 (ISBN)978-91-89504-53-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-10-20, MA648, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European StudiesHelge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse
Available from: 2023-09-28 Created: 2023-09-20 Last updated: 2023-10-13Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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  • de-DE
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