Memory, historical responsibility, truth and justice: The Balkan wars

Anthony Oberschall


In 1998, during a fieldtrip in the former Yugoslavia, I interviewed membersof associations of internally displaced persons (IDPs). They were petitioning theauthorities to recover their homes and properties because they wanted to “go home”.They also wanted the truth told about their families, communities and the war.They presented me with photos of houses or farms, anonymous letters threateningthem if they would not leave, photos of missing family members and legal papers.And they wanted justice. They wanted that those responsible for killing their kinand neighbors and driving them from their homes should be punished. Based onthese and other experiences I investigate four institutions designed to learn the truthabout contested historical events and their interpretation: the international criminaltribunal, the truth and reconciliation commission, the outsider commission, andpolitical agreement between adversaries.


ethnic conflict, justice, collective memory, truth commission

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X