To Believe or Not to Believe: Current History Textbooks in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Goran Šimić


Schools have one characteristic that media and family do not. A “state-sponsored” means of promoting perceptions of the past, they are obligatory to attend in most countries. That means students don’t have a choice but to be exposed to a certain interpretation of facts and values. Among other classes, history class involves this exposure. Ideally, history textbooks should offer open-minded views, diverse perspectives on certain experiences, developments, events, and processes stemming from national and general history that carry messages corresponding to content based on science and established facts. Since in most cases of the demanding task of writing history textbooks there is room for numerous controversies, is it problematic when children are taught different “truths,” “facts,” and “values”? When they are taught that diversity is a major problem in multicultural societies? That the “others” are always perpetrators of the crimes? That there cannot be reconciliation with “them”? Because Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) never established official truth about events from the most recent war, this space for manipulation is wide open. Ironically, even if writers of history textbooks in BiH wish to include established facts, that would be not possible, since there is no such a thing. The only facts established according to the legal standards—“beyond reasonable doubt”—would be those in the final decision of the international and domestic courts dealing with war crimes committed in BiH between 1992 and 1995. What happens, then, if one brings together all the history textbooks in schools in BiH? What can found in them? And, most important, are they to be trusted?


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Goran Šimić
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of LawInternational University of SarajevoSarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina

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