Conclusion-War and Community: What Have We Learned About Their Relationship?
The last chapter summarises the empirical findings and theoretical accounts provided in the book by making a statement that the former Yugoslavia experiences have clearly shown an illuminating pattern of societal destabilisation, destruction and restoration; while the old political structures were decomposed fairly rapidly and new ones were established with the same speed, the communal and community life of people went through a long period of disbelief and despair, caused by massive violence, ethnic cleansing and unimaginable atrocities committed very often by a neighbour or a schoolfellow. Moreover, the suffering of many individuals and communities are still vivid and salient even 20 years after the war, witnessing not only immediate but also hard and long-lasting consequences of war violence on people’s everyday life. These consequences are most notable in the slow and painful processes of social recovery of once highly integrated communities. Many empirical findings in the book show that former everyday practices of interethnic contacts, friendships and mixed marriages have been profoundly changed and replaced by external identity labels as ultimate elements of social exchange. Indeed, most empirical findings in the book speak loudly against the widespread notion about ethnic intolerance and even hatred as a cause of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Rather we would argue that it was not ethnicity by itself but the politically instigated processes of ethnicisation that sowed the seed of social distancing, violence and post-war distrust. The FY examples teach us how fragile communal ties can be when faced with belligerent politics and that past communal experiences, although highly affected by the war, could also provide a solid ground for feasible social reconstruction.
KeywordsFormer Yugoslavia War Communities Social reconstruction Intergroup relations Social change
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