Imaginary Trials: War Crime Trials and Memory in Former Yugoslavia
Summary: Katarina Ristić, lecturer at the Global and European Studies Institute (GESI, U Leipzig, Germany), looks in her book at one very particular aspect of the post-conflict transition(s) in the former Yugoslavia, namely the usage of legal narratives in the production of public discourses on ‘the past’ and the formulation of collective memory in that process.
Synopsis:From the moment when a recording of the shooting of six Muslim captives in Trnovo in July 1995 was played in the courtroom during the trial of Slobodan Milošević, on Wednesday, the 1st of June 2005, the telephone at the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) did not stop ringing. It seemed that the much awaited turn over into dealing with “the past” in Serbia was on the run. Perpetrators were arrested, politicians condemned the crime, and few months later the president received representatives of victims’ organization the “Mothers of Srebrenica”. It seemed, for once, that the entire Serbian population jointly condemned the crime. Almost ten years later, when the Hague tribunal is running the last few trials, and many of the accused are released after serving two thirds of the sentence, no one is really surprised by national rallies and the wide spread support they receive in the home-countries. This kind of a public celebration for war criminals was, and has remained, common throughout the former Yugoslavia. Twenty years after the war, there is very limited positive record of transitional justice, despite the trials, the European Union (EU) conditioning policy and the substantial financial support of human rights organizations. This book looks at one very particular aspect of the post-conflict transition(s) in the former Yugoslavia, namely the usage of legal narratives in the production of public discourses on “the past” and the formulation of collective memory in that process.
Biographical Note:Katarina Ristić is a lecturer at the Global and European Studies Institute (GESI, U Leipzig, Germany). In 2004 she completed her studies in philosophy at the University of Belgrade (Serbia). From 2009 to 2013 she was a DAAD scholarship holder at the Graduate Centre Humanities and Social Sciences (U Leipzig, Germany) and has been writing a doctorate on the topic “War Crime Trials and Memory in Former Yugoslavia”. Her research interests include transitional justice in post-conflict societies, nationalism and gender studies. She has also worked in the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Center (HCL), an NGO dedicated to dealing with the past in the former Yugoslavia.