WP_12-02

Renaming of Public Space: A Policy of Exclusion in Bosnia and Herzegovina

by Monika Palmberger

Working Papers WP 12-02
January 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf


Abstract:
During the war and thereafter, the names of public places (e.g. streets, squares, airports and even towns) underwent a process of “national screening” and in many cases were re-named. The cities of Sarajevo, Mostar and Banja Luka have seen the most incidences of the renaming of streets. On the case of Mostar, a city that has been divided into a Bosniak-dominated eastern and a Croat dominated western part of the city since the 1992-95 war, I show in this paper how the renaming of streets in Croat-dominated West Mostar presents a policy of exclusion, whereby the political strategy followed is to nationalise public space. At the same time I argue that the effect of this move has on the  population is not as clear as it may seem. Although the renaming of streets is experienced by the non-Croat population as a practice of exclusion, it would be overhasty to assume that Croat citizens simply internalise the new street policy and in a similar way reconfigure their memories.

Authors:
Monika Palmberger is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity.
palmberger(at)mmg.mpg.de

Keywords:
public space, street names, post-socialism, post-war, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar