The Destruction of Bosnia's Cultural Heritage

Author: Helen Walasek
Uploaded: Monday, 16 March, 2015

This authoritative work, based on years of meticulous research by a former Bosnian Institute colleague, will be published in April 2015


Bosnia and the Destruction of Cultural Heritage
Helen Walasek
with contributions by Richard Carlton, Amra Hadžimuhamedovic, Valery Perry and Tina Wik
To be published by Ashgate in April 2015, 430pp. hardback, with 126 b&w illustrations and 1 map. ISBN: 978-1-4094-3704-8
The massive intentional destruction of cultural heritage during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War targeting a historically diverse identity provoked global condemnation and became a seminal marker in the discourse on cultural heritage. It prompted an urgent reassessment of how cultural property could be protected in times of conflict and led to a more definitive recognition in international humanitarian law that destruction of a people’s cultural heritage is an aspect of genocide. Yet surprisingly little has been published on the subject.
This wide-ranging book provides the first comprehensive overview and critical analysis of the destruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s cultural heritage and its far-reaching impact. Scrutinizing the responses of the international community during the war (including bodies like UNESCO and the Council of Europe), the volume also analyses how, after the conflict ended, external agendas impinged on heritage reconstruction to the detriment of the broader peace process and refugee return. It assesses implementation of Annex 8 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, a unique attempt to address the devastation to Bosnia’s cultural heritage, and examines the treatment of war crimes involving cultural property at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
With numerous case studies and plentiful illustrations, this important volume considers questions which have moved to the foreground with the inclusion of cultural heritage preservation in discussions of the right to culture in human rights discourse and as a vital element of post-conflict and development aid.
Introduction, Helen Walasek
Destruction of the cultural heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina: an overview, Helen Walasek Documenting the destruction, Richard Carlton and Helen Walasek
Topography of destruction: post-conflict fieldwork assessing the cultural heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Richard Carlton and Helen Walasek
Cultural heritage protection in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina: Annex 8 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Valery Perry
Domains of restoration: actors and agendas in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina, Helen Walasek
The built heritage in the post-war reconstruction of Stolac, Amra Hadžimuhamedovic; Restoring war-damaged built cultural heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina: an international perspective, Tina Wik
Cultural heritage, the search for justice and human rights, Helen Walasek
Appendix: a brief introduction to the cultural heritage of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Helen Walasek
About the Author
Helen Walasek was an Associate of the Bosnian Institute, London, and was Deputy Director of Bosnia-Herzegovina Heritage Rescue (BHHR) for which she worked 1994-1998. She has a Diploma in Museum Studies from University of Leicester. She made many working visits to Bosnia during and after the 1992-1995 war, including as an Expert Consultant for the Council of Europe reporting on museums in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and 1996. In 2000 and 2001 she carried out two field trips (with Richard Carlton) making the first post-war assessment of destroyed historic monuments across Bosnia-Herzegovina for which there was little accurate information at the time.
‘As culture is increasingly targeted in conflicts, Walasek reminds us of an episode from which vital lessons should have been drawn. Her forensic analysis of the failure of the international community to understand whose heritage was destroyed during the Bosnian conflict and why, is essential for informing future efforts to preserve both heritage and human rights.’
    Robert Bevan, author of The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War
'Based on impressive expertise and prodigious research, this ground-breaking study of cultural destruction and reconstruction in Bosnia-Hercegovina represents a tour de force. Helen Walasek and her collaborators have produced a book that no serious student of the Bosnian war and its aftermath should be without.'
    Marko Attila Hoare, author of How Bosnia Armed and The Bosnian Muslims in the Second World War
'Walasek's unique collaboration with other leading experts in cultural heritage uses a plethora of Bosnian case studies to forge an extensive, superbly detailed account of the kaleidoscopic effects of cultural destruction. This account pulls no punches politically but systematically stresses the critical role of cultural heritage in sustaining pluralism and diversity, its deep-rooted connection to justice and human rights in peace building contexts.'
    Gregory Kent, author of Framing War and Genocide: British policy and media reaction to the war in Bosnia
‘The concept of cultural genocide is often warily received, even now, but this tremendous and unforgettable book will establish its validity forever in the public mind. This is a detailed and compellingly readable account of the fearsome cultural destruction of the Bosnian war, as communities tried not only to expel and exterminate their rivals but to destroy the physical evidence that they had ever existed. But Helen Walasek and her colleagues also indict the unforgiveable reluctance of the international community to recognise what was happening, intervene or name the guilty.’
    Neal Ascherson, author of Black Sea and The Struggles for Poland
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