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  • 1.
    Demirel, Cagla
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    Analyzing Competitive Victimhood: Narratives of recognition and nonrecognition in the pursuit of reconciliation2023Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    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.

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    Analyzing Competitive Victimhood Narratives of recognition and nonrecognition in the pursuit of reconciliation
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  • 2.
    Demirel, Cagla
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    Does power-sharing facilitate memory-sharing?: Bosnian Croat narratives in post-war Bosnia and HerzegovinaIn: Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 3.
    Demirel, Cagla
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Exploring inclusive victimhood narratives: the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina2023In: Third World Quarterly, ISSN 0143-6597, E-ISSN 1360-2241, Vol. 44, no 8, p. 1770-1789Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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  • 4.
    Demirel, Cagla
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    International Relations In The Age Of Anxiety2019In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955, E-ISSN 2001-7308, Vol. XII, no 3, p. 39-40Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Demirel, Cagla
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Re-conceptualising competitive victimhood in reconciliation processes: the case of Northern Ireland2023In: Peacebuilding, ISSN 2164-7259, E-ISSN 2164-7267, Vol. 11, no 1, p. 45-61Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The literature on competitive victimhood (CV) tends be guided by a dichotomous interpretation based on a crude-binary distinction between CV and inclusive/common victimhood, with the former referring to conflict and the latter to reconciliation. For a fine-grained interpretation of CV, this paper aims to show that actors' use of victimhood narratives can be understood through a richer conceptualization of CV. Observing that actors tend to use victimhood narratives with varying intensity of competitiveness, I propose a CV typology to illustrate narrative variation in conflict-to-peace transition. The typology is developed in a two-staged process, firstly, by analytically distinguishing five categories of CV and, secondly, by putting these categories into practice in the case of Northern Ireland through an analysis of party manifestos and personal interviews with local actors conducted in Belfast in 2018. The empirical results show that the typology is helpful for capturing the transitions of competitiveness in intergroup reconciliation.

  • 6.
    Demirel, Cagla
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    The dilemma of memory laws: To restore the dignity of victims without feeding into ultra-nationalism2022In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955, E-ISSN 2001-7308, no 1-2, p. 57-60Article in journal (Other academic)
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    fulltext
  • 7.
    Demirel, Cagla
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    Englund, Martin
    Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS). Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, History.
    Legislating Memory: From Memory Laws to Transitional Justice2021In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955, E-ISSN 2001-7308, Vol. 13 JuneArticle in journal (Other academic)
  • 8.
    Demirel, Cagla
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Eriksson, Johan
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Competitive victimhood and reconciliation: the case of Turkish–Armenian relations2020In: Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, ISSN 1070-289X, E-ISSN 1547-3384, Vol. 27, no 5, p. 537-556Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper argues that conflicts tend to be intractable if collective victimhood has become a component of national identity, and when conflicting communities claim to be the ‘real’ or ‘only’ victims, and that their suffering justifies crimes past and present. Turkish and Armenian narratives of competitive victimhood are analysed drawing on public opinion polls from Turkey and Armenia, and personal interviews with Turks and Armenians. The study corroborates past theory and research that competitive victimhood prevents reconciliation, particularly if it has become an essential part of national identity. The paper also shows that Turkish–Armenian relations remain at the bottom stage of the reconciliation ladder. Yet, some of our empirical observations suggest that when grass-roots level interaction between Turks and Armenians is facilitated (which has been prevented not least because of the closed border), there is room for the abandonment of competitive victimhood at least on an interpersonal level, if not on a general societal or political level. 

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