Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies: A Scholars Initiative (Central european studies)

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Or can scholars identify and address endemic problems for which there appear to be no viable solutions? If so, is it then possible to reintegrate people whose separate identities spring substantially—and sometimes exclusively—from contradictory accounts of the past? Or have two centuries of democracy left us resigned to the inevitability of conflict in an increasingly multicultural world?

But to do so, they would need to accomplish two tasks to which most are unaccustomed, and with which they are even uncomfortable. Second, they would need to reach out to the public by engaging media and, when possible, politicians willing to place at least one foot on the common platform that their own scholars have helped construct. Ramet, Whose Democracy?

One reason for their initial pessimism was that they did not fully realize what the SI was not and need not be. First, given the lack of time, cognitive distance, and extramural funding, it could not pretend to undertake a significant amount of groundbreaking research. There is, in fact, an enormous amount of published material available, including many hundreds of book-length accounts, memoirs, and documentary compendia, thousands of scholarly articles, and hundreds of thousands of pages of trial tran- scripts already released by the ICTY and various national courts.

Even if major disagreements remain, it is hardly necessary to resolve every con- troversy in the otherwise common narrative. After all, scholars always enjoy the latitude to admit to the insufficiency of evidence and the existence of multiple, di- vergent inferences.

During the course of the project, team leaders were frequently reminded that it was not necessary to resolve every difference within their group, and that it was perfectly permissible to highlight the existence of two or more contra- dictory explanations or interpretations in their final report—and to call for more research on the subject. This is especially true when writing about a conflict that ended only a decade ago, although even early modern historians like me can vouch for the persistence of de- bates that have gone three or four centuries without being resolved.

Whereas many participants and public observers alike assumed that the project would incur the obligations of undertaking extensive original research, resolving all controversies, and presenting a definitive narrative, they were equally unaware that the SI itself needed to avoid controversy and to maintain its credibility with two crucial constituencies: the community of scholars to which it belonged and the gen- eral public that was its ultimate target. This need to combine im- age and reality constituted the greatest challenge that the project faced during its ten-year career, requiring as it did a series of adjustments and compromises that needed to survive the scrutiny of each audience, even though many SI participants did not fully appreciate why this was necessary.

First, any attempt at achieving mutual recognition and acceptance requires clearly defined goals. Kosovo under Autonomy, — 2.

Fagressurser hos Universitetsbiblioteket

The Safe Areas, — 7. The War in Croatia, — 8. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ICTY Although these topics covered the entire period of the Yugoslav conflicts, they were not intended to present a comprehensive narrative of all the key events, personal- ities, or other developments that one would expect in a truly definitive account.

To have done so would have unduly burdened not only our investigators with additional research, but also the general public with a lengthier text that they would be less likely to purchase and read. Thus the goal was to produce a reasonably short volume that would focus intently but solely on the targeted controversies, presented in a positivist narrative that would be accessible to laypeople. On the other hand, several scholars wanted to build the reports around social science theory or pursue other worthwhile but tangential issues that corresponded to their own research interests.

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The project also needed to be inclusive. To begin with, the decision to form ten research teams to tackle each of the targeted controversies reflected a commitment to examining all major subjects of debate. Not to have done so would have inevitably inspired accusations of biased selection.

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No less important was an absolute commitment to the admission of all qualified evidence, so that nobody could claim that one or another accusation or body of evidence had been excluded from consideration. The commitment to inclusivity also extended to the project participants. For the sake of efficiency of operation, we had originally planned for research teams of no more than a half-dozen or so specialists and a total membership of well under a hundred.

As more and more scholars expressed an interest in joining, however, we realized that refusing to accept anyone with genuine interest and expertise in the field might invite the charge of selective bias, particularly from extreme nationalists bent on discrediting the common narrative that we would be presenting.

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To avoid the ap- pearance and charge of bias, we routinely accepted applicants whose curricula vitae presented the semblance of expertise, including many graduate students, both be- cause they were willing to do project-related research and because their engagement constituted an investment in a new generation of scholars who could develop in- dependently from the entrenched nationalist elites that dominate faculties through- out the successor states.

We also refrained from recruiting—and in a couple of instances intentionally excluded—a very small number of scholars when preexisting person- ality conflicts threatened to undermine the rapport that we needed to nurture, par- ticularly among scholars from the various successor states. This was without question the most painful compromise that we were obliged to make between the public ex- pectation of inclusivity and the private insistence of individual team leaders on a high level of collegiality at the research team level.

Perhaps our single greatest concern was the need to sustain a commitment to scholarly methodologies, most notably the impartial weighing and representation of evidence. We then took the further precaution of forming an advisory board to adjudicate accusations of bias against or between project participants. In the end, only one individual was removed from the project. Perhaps the best explanation for what remains the most surprising devel- opment is that the project participants were guided by the invisible hand of peer pressure.

Whereas all professionals seek recognition from their peers, the successor state scholars who joined the SI were particularly interested in reaffirming and strengthening their membership in the scholarly guild; none were more committed than the Serbian scholars, whose bridges with the West had been destroyed through guilt by association with a criminal regime and the sanctions levied against it.

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Thus, whereas some of us originally expected Western scholars to serve as referees in de- bates between our successor state colleagues, they may have preempted such conflict by creating an emulsion from which few Albanian, Bosnian, Croat, and Serb par- ticipants were willing to separate. Which is not to say that individual participants did not sometimes oppose the resolution of one controversy or another that reflected poorly on their country or national group, but such opposition usually manifested itself through omission and inertia, acted out in silence at a safe distance from the machinery that generated the team reports.

But once again, it was not enough that project participants retain their scholarly integrity; it was equally important that the general public perceive them as impartial, albeit by meeting a different set of standards. The overriding criterion here was the presence of native scholars on the project who could be trusted to defend the in- terests of each successor state.

This was particularly important for a Serbian public that has routinely dismissed the grim findings of international bodies such as the ICTY because they were headed by foreigners. Moreover, from the beginning, each research team was co-directed by two scholars, one of whom was invariably an ethnic Serb. This preponderance is evident in the comprehensive list of scholars that was made available to the media, which was intentionally or- ganized by country so that the public in each successor state could see for themselves that their nationality was sufficiently represented.

Nonetheless, a classification system that indulged popular expectations has helped to forestall accusations of bias, particularly in Serbia. Finally, we needed to maintain a high level of transparency. Whereas this is de- sirable in any type of organization, it is absolutely essential in a part of the world forces expelled from Kosovo in were actually fleeing NATO bombs, and that the myriad of televised interviews with refugees were staged by professional actors hired by NATO.

A first step was to craft a detailed prospectus, clearly enumerating principles, policies, and procedures on the project website. Thereafter, key decisions were routinely disseminated to all project participants via e-mail. Successive drafts of reports were first discussed at the team level before being passed on to all of the project participants, each of whom had the right to make suggestions, which ranged from fulsome praise to withering criticism.

At the conclusion of each round of criticism, all comments were bundled together and sent in a single e-mail message to every project partic- ipant so that succeeding drafts could be checked for mandated revisions. Once a report had finally passed muster, it was immediately distributed to the media and an assortment of government supporters in Washington and the successor states.

Although local sponsors covered the costs, there was still no funding for a major international ini- tiative. Institute of Peace USIP urged us to submit a proposal for bringing together scholars from across the region. When we next met at UN Headquarters in Sarajevo in July , there were already participants from nearly twenty countries, including all of the successor states. The Sarajevo meeting proved to be a very difficult undertaking.

By another stroke of bad timing, the conference coincided precisely with a threatened cutoff of U. Although we were saved by a last-minute reprieve from Washington and the can-do mindset of UN mission chief Jacques-Paul Klein, our problems were only beginning. It was in Sarajevo that we first realized that scholars whose countries had suffered the most could be the most demanding and the least flexible.

Only a third of the eighteen Bosnian invitees at- tended the meeting in their own capital, simply because many of them were unwilling to listen to any account of the war that differed from what they already knew to be true. Meanwhile, scholars from the other successor states exhibited a com- mitment to collegial interaction, including the twenty Serbian scholars who were making their first trip to Sarajevo since the wartime siege.

To our surprise and gen- eral dismay, the only Serbian scholars to embarrass our attempt to rebuild bridges in Sarajevo were a phalanx of six fervently anti-nationalist women scholars, all but one of whom refused to leave Belgrade to listen to the same men who had publicly assailed their character and patriotism during the wartime quest for a Greater Ser- bia. Although four of them eventually joined the project, Sarajevo indicated for the first time that it might be easier for mainstream Serbian scholars to adhere to a common narrative than for some of their former victims to assist them in the process.

Having set a research agenda, the teams now commenced the process of gathering evidence and preparing a first draft for presentation fifteen months later. The tension between scholarship and public expectation was also evident at this stage. The commitment to inclusiveness and transparency suggested to some lay- people that all of the project participants would play an active role in researching and writing the reports. Yet this was not possible at a time when the project mem- bership was approaching three hundred, with the research teams averaging more than twenty scholars.

Efficiency would be best served by entrusting the research to a small number of particularly qualified scholars and the writing to one or both of the team leaders. Even the two-headed leadership configuration invited wasted time and energy. Prpa attributed the gender difference to the fact that women generally enter doctoral pro- grams in history and social science for academic reasons, while these same disciplines are often the avenue of choice for politically ambitious men, whose pursuit of elected office ultimately necessitates the adoption of a nationalist agenda, often informed by gender-specific discourse that contrasts male strength with feminine weakness.

This included recruiting from the bloated team membership those who were willing and capable of undertaking targeted research, while encouraging the rest to contribute with suggestions and criticism as the work progressed. The report was then circulated at the team level before being posted via e-mail to all project participants. The all-important research and writing stage was funded by a new grant from the National Endowment for Democracy NED , which permitted us to offer modest stipends to the more than forty successor state scholars who served as team leaders or individual researchers.

One problem involved the means by which we could motivate participants to perform work that would not necessarily advance their careers. Clearly the sti- pends could offer meaningful remuneration to Central European scholars whose depressed university salaries routinely obliged them to earn outside income. But no scholar from North America or the European Union could be paid or even reim- bursed for travel, telephone, or other ancillary expenses. Quite aside from com- pensation, how could we expect to engage eminent Western scholars who were al- ready heavily overcommitted, or talented junior faculty who were currently seeking tenure and promotion?

A partial solution was provided by commissioning the pub- lication of three volumes for project-related research by twenty-one SI scholars from North America and the EU. Another difficult choice concerned the proportion of team leaderships to be en- trusted to Western scholars. It would have been easy to fill all eleven team leader positions that were not reserved for Serbs with scholars from North America and the EU. Reconciliation is a long and difficult process that necessitates a willingness to work together openly and objectively in confronting the past.

Over the past ten years the Scholars" Initiative has assembled an international consortium of historians, social scientists, and jurists to examine the salient controversies that still divide the peoples of former Yugoslavia. The findings of its eleven research teams represent a direct assault on the proprietary narratives and interpretations that nationalist politicians and media have impressed on mass culture in each of the successor states.

Given gaps in the historical record and the existence of sometimes contradictory evidence, this volume does not pretend to resolve all of the outstanding issues. Nevertheless, this second edition incorporates new evidence and major developments that have taken place in the region since the first edition went to press. At the heart of this project has always been the insistence of the authors that they would continue to reconsider their analyses and conclusions based on credible new evidence. Thus, in this second edition, the work of the Scholars' Initiative continues.

The broadly conceived synthesis will assist scholars, public officials, and the people they represent both in acknowledging inconvenient facts and in discrediting widely held myths that inform popular attitudes and the electoral success of nationalist politicians who profit from them. Rather than rely on special pleading and appeals to patriotism that have no place in scholarship, the volume vests its credibility in the scientific credentials of its investigators, the transparent impartiality of its methodology, and an absolute commitment to soliciting and examining evidence presented by all sides.

Odabrane stranice Naslovna stranica. Autorska prava.