i’ve had good reason to be silent lately. there are the preparations for my move back to Tennessee, and for a trip to a conference and vacation, but then there’s also this:
a six part series from the BBC, available on google video, called The Death of Yugoslavia (here’s Part 1). it documents, in extremely fascinating interviews with all the key players and only 6 months after the Dayton Peace accords, the dissolution of the Yugoslav state. If you’ve never before understood the differences between Bosnian, Serb, and Croat, and how those intersect with religious identities, you will after seeing this series.
i’ve got it on good authority, from folks who were in the war, that this documentary is as accurate and balanced a portrayal as you are ever likely to see.
there’s a lot here other than a history lesson: if you are interested in religion, political and social movements, negotiation, UN/NATO and other extra-governmental organizations, ethnicity and ethnic conflict, or genocide, the video has much to say to your interests. as a media scholar, i was struck by how impactful both the video documentation of human rights abuses is, and how remarkable it is to watch governments manipulate populations through media propaganda. i think very little about these two issues, and realize again how narrowly specialized i have become.
finally, it is a different thing to engage the explication of history through which you have lived. i realize i was in high school and college during the war, and knew little about it at the time. although the parallels between the events in bosnia in particular, and the ethnic cleansing of jews in the second world war are striking, and obvious…and were made explicit by elie wiesel at the time…i am ashamed to admit that i never once heard my jewish community address the plight of muslims, croats or serbs in the ’90s.
so, i hope you’ll take the time to watch all six episodes. they’re about 45 minutes apiece, and riveting.