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The Privatisation of Home and Hope: Return, Reforms and the Foreign Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina


Contextualising the foreign-imposed return policies in early post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina, this article argues that the return of the displaced – however important it was to many Bosnians – ultimately functioned as the self-perpetuating lynchpin of an externally generated framework for post-war reconstruction, often out of tune with the hopes of its intended beneficiaries. Rather than following conventional anthropological cultural relativist arguments, I propose a critique of the foreign intervention that places it in its social, political and economic context, drawing attention to patterns of longing and belonging in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I contrast the groundings and implications of intervention policies with the experiences and yearnings of displaced Bosnians and show that, while it was legitimised as the implementation of an ostensibly ideologically neutral human rights discourse, the foreign emphasis on property and safety rights over other concerns channelled the reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina into a peculiar, normative trajectory of postsocialist neoliberalisation.

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Correspondence to Stef Jansen.

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Jansen, S. The Privatisation of Home and Hope: Return, Reforms and the Foreign Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dialect Anthropol 30, 177–199 (2006).

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  • United Nations High Commissioner
  • Foreign Intervention
  • World Bank Policy Research Work
  • Minority Return
  • Nationalist Discourse