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Vane Ivanovic Lecture - Ivo Zanic;

Date:07 March 2007
Location:Kingston University

Vane Ivanović Lecture - Ivo Zanić


On 7 March, Professor Ivo Zanić of Zagreb University delivered a Vane Ivanović lecture at Kingston University, entitled ‘Making people commit genocide’, concerning the subject of his recently published book, Flag on the Mountain: A Political Anthropology of War in Croatia and Bosnia (Saqi Books, London, 2007).


Professor Zanić discussed the heritage of folklore shared by the peoples of the former Yugoslavia – Serbs, Croats and Muslims alike – and the way this was drawn upon and manipulated by nationalist leaders for the purposes of mobilising their respective populations for war in the early 1990s. He discussed how, for example, Serb nationalist rebels in Croatia interpreted their actions as standing in the tradition of the hajduks, or Christian bandits of the Ottoman era, while the gusle, a one-stringed instrument that traditionally accompanied recitations of epic ballads, featured prominently in Serb-nationalist rallies of this period. Yet such symbols and motifs were not exclusive to the Serb nationalists, but similarly adopted by their Croat and Muslim counterparts, even fought over in their mutual propaganda battles.


In explaining the relationship between traditional folklore and modern mass-mobilisation, Professor Zanić has provided a key piece of the puzzle of how war and genocide were possible in the previously long-peaceful former Yugoslavia of the 1990s.

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