Subaltern Youth Identities in Bosnia-Herzegovina

  • Abstract:

    This paper examines how the 2014 social unrest in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) manifested on the Spanish Square in the divided city Mostar, revealing how counterpublics reimagine citizenship and identity. Identity politics in the form of ethnonationalism are often said to have caused the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia and continue to be a major rhetorical and political tool in many countries of the former Yugoslavia. Ethno-nationalism dominates the public sphere, marginalising not only alternative voices but also minimising the number of spaces where youth of different backgrounds can meet, interact, and take action. While the international community has invested billions of dollars in aid to reconstruct a multicultural mosaic in BiH, it has also capitulated to demands from ethnonatioalists, thereby legitimising and institutionalising ethnicity as a rigid category of difference, identity, and citizenship. While the 2014 unrest made a modest or even negligent impact on the status quo, it represents a significant emergence of counterpublics on the Spanish Square, a politically and spatially significant area along the “dividing” line in Mostar. Here citizens reimagined space and identity by using the Square as a site of occupational protest, embodying the counterpublics of resistance and giving life to alternative identities through the language of rights.