The battle for Sarajevo: making and consolidating an ethnoterritorialised urban area

Authors: Jordi Martin*, University of Barcelona
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Ethnic Geography
Keywords: Sarajevo, ethnoterritorialisation, divided cities, ethnocratic practices
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 4:55 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Governors Square 11, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Sarajevo has a long tradition of ethnic diversity and coexistence throughout its history. However, the collapse of Yugoslavia ended dramatically for the city, as SDS leadership pursued to materialise its ethnic division by military means. Approaching from the logic of territorialisation is helpful to explain the profound ethnic transformation of the city, hardly altered by an international strategy to rebuild its diversity during the post-war period. This paper deals with the role of nationalist parties, SDS and SDA, in the process to ethnoterritorialise the urban area of Sarajevo during the last decade of the twentieth century. Firstly, it analyses the policy of SDS conducted since 1991 to divide ethnically Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sarajevo. As highlighted in this section, the SDS leadership conceived the city as a central priority in the policy to create a new Bosnian Serb state. It is followed by the performance of both parties during the siege and the final the division between the Federation of BiH and the Republika Srpska set in the peace agreement, which significantly modified the siege line and ended the long pursuit of SDS leadership to ethnically divide the central areas of the city. Finally, analyses focus on those ethnocratic practices conducted more or less openly by both nationalist parties after the siege, which remade and consolidated a partition that has progressively increased its features of divided city.

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