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Rape Warfare

The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia

Beverly Allen

Publication Year: 1996

In 1992, Beverly Allen learned of the existence of rape/death camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia from a former student, a woman of Croatian heritage. In these camps, women were-and are still-being detained and raped repeatedly by Serbian soldiers, whose goal often is to impregnate their victims or to torture them before they are killed. In this highly personal account, Beverly Allen provides a compelling testimony and analysis of the horrifying phenomenon of “a military policy of rape for the purpose of genocide.” In Rape Warfare, Allen examines the complexity of identity in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia through the accounts of rape/death camp survivors and those who work to help them. She then presents and analyzes the information she has gathered about genocidal rape, all the while asking, “How can I, an empathizing outsider, communicate what is happening without reinforcing the damage that has already been done?” In a nuanced discussion of the ethics of representing such atrocities, she decides to “forgo storytelling except when the stories I tell are my own.” Allen concludes with an impassioned argument for bringing to trial the perpetrators of genocidal rape. By turns personal, polemical, and informative, Rape Warfare is a lucid guide for anyone seeking to make sense of what is happening in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Beverly Allen has spoken out in newspapers and on television and radio to raise awareness of rape/death camps. In Rape Warfare, she writes, “Every time I meet another woman who has survived, or who is helping the survivors, or who is struggling to articulate the horror the survivors and the dead have suffered and to prevent its recurrence, my own anger and grave distress turn toward hope.”

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Definitions

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xviii

This all began for me in August 1992, when I got a phone call at my home in Palo Alto from M., a former student, saying she had something to show me.1 M. and I had been friends for several years, ever since she had studied with me at Stanford. She is fluent in several languages and had been translating from her native Croatian that summer. ...

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Theme 1: Identity

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pp. 1-28

I begin with my own identity, the aspects of this place called my self that made it ripe terrain for M.'s translations. Rape and other violence based on gender and sex are not unknown to me. For almost ten years, I have been working with groups of rape survivors and battered women and have come to an understanding of the psychological processes involved in recovering from such violence. ...

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Theme 2: Representation

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pp. 29-40

On one of my visits to the Rome offices of the Guardian, the English foreign correspondent Ed Vuillamy lent me two maps of Bosnia-Herzegovina. One was a road map; it reminded me of maps of California. I could estimate by comparison, for example, that the Karlovac front line was about as far from downtown Zagreb as San Mateo is from San Francisco, ...

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Theme 3: Facts

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pp. 41-86

The noted scholar of nationalism Eric Hobsbawm has written that "no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist" because "nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so" (Hobsbawm, 12). He quotes Renan, the father of critical European discourse regarding nationalism, ...

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Theme 4: Analysis

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pp. 87-102

Enforced pregnancy as a method of genocide makes sense only if you are ignorant about genetics. No baby born from such a crime will be only Serb. It will receive half its genetic material from its mother. Moreover, it will be raised within the mother's culture— if her culture survives anywhere, that is. ...

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Theme 5: Remedies

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pp. 103-132

As I write about these things, I am reminded over and over again of the angel of history Walter Benjamin imagines in his "Theses on the Philosophy of History" (75-86). Flying backward into the future, the gape-mouthed angel sees the wreckage of the past grow ever more vast in its wake. ...

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Theme 6: Implications

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pp. 133-144

The events I have been discussing hold profound implications for current and future possibilities of social organization, not only in the countries immediately at stake, but also in the rest of the world. Clearly implicit in these events, for example, is a reevaluation of communal identity as national, and of national identity as congruent with that of a state. ...


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pp. 145-162

Works Consulted

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pp. 163-170


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pp. 171-174


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pp. 175-180

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About the Author

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Beverly Allen is associate professor of French, Italian, comparative literature, and women's studies at Syracuse University, where she directs the Humanities Doctoral Program. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816687480
E-ISBN-10: 081668748X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816628186

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 1996

Edition: First edition

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Rape -- Bosnia and Hercegovina.
  • Yugoslav War, 1991-1995 -- Atrocities.
  • Genocide -- Bosnia and Hercegovina.
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