The New Masters of Memory: Libraries, Archives, and Museums in Postcommunist Bosnia-Herzegovina
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Institutions of social memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina have undergone dramatic changes in status, ownership , and management during the 1990s. Several institutions were physically damaged or destroyed during the siege of Sarajevo (1992–95) and required reconstitution and rebuilding on a large scale. But even before the war began, the triumph of nationalist political forces and the end of socialist rule had initiated far-reaching changes in the country’s major institutions. Nationalist leaders reconstructed some long-standing institutions, allowed others to atrophy, and established new ones in support of their political and cultural objectives. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the Bosnian war, international inbuences increasingly affected the structure and role of collective memory in the country. This essay focuses on ave institutions of social memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina to illuminate the farreaching changes that have taken place since the late 1980s. Of these, three institutions existed for several decades before 1990: the National and University Library , the Archive of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Regional Museum. One institution, the Bosniak Institute, was created in Zurich, Switzerland, but moved to Sarajevo only in 2000. The afth institution, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, is located in The Hague, the Netherlands, and was mandated in 1993. The changing role and ownership of cultural memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina is evident in the history of each of these ave institutions. An Overview The oldest institutions of social memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina were founded by religious associations. These include several archives of the Franciscan Order, which has operated continuously in Bosnia since the 1340s; the holdings of several Serbian Orthodox monasteries; and the collections of the Gazi Husrefbeg Library in Sarajevo, an institution that dates from 1537. In the nineteenth century , national revivals in Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia fostered the growth of new institutions, secular yet sectarian , devoted to recording the history of a single national group.1 In Bosnia-Herzegovina, national consciousness developed later than elsewhere, and national cultural societies (Prosvjeta for Serbs; Napredak for Croats; Benevolencija for Jews; and Preporod and Gajret for Bosnian Muslims) were not founded until early in the twentieth century. These national societies in Bosnia-Herzegovina never attained the inbuence of their pioneering counterparts in neighboring South Slav lands. Still, their collections grew rapidly, and they became major repositories for books and manuscripts pertaining to their particular groups. The arst public institution of social memory in Bosnia was the Regional Museum (Landesmuseum or Zemaljski muzej), founded in 1888 under the sponsorship of the Habsburg administrators in Sarajevo who then governed Bosnia-Herzegovina.2 In addition to artifacts, the museum housed a library and the records of the pre-1878 393 ⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮ The New Masters of Memory Libraries, Archives, and Museums in Postcommunist Bosnia-Herzegovina Robert J. Donia ⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯ Ottoman regional government, so for some years it served as an archival repository and library as well as a museum. In 1913, the museum collections were moved about a mile west into a complex of four specially built neoclassic structures that were loosely modeled on museums elsewhere in the Habsburg monarchy. Behind this generous expenditure lay a political motive: the Habsburg occupiers wanted to highlight Bosnia’s indigenous cultural heritage in its campaign to negate Serbian and Croatian nationalist inbuences from neighboring lands. No other major public secular institutions of memory were established in Bosnia-Herzegovina until after World War II. In 1914, Habsburg ofacials approved the establishment of a regional archive to house its millions of documents, but the institution had not yet been established when war broke out and most such activities stopped.3 The government of Royal Yugoslavia (1918– 41) encouraged and supported institutions of collective memory in the primary cities of its three major nationalities (Ljubljana for the Slovenes, Zagreb for the Croats, and Belgrade for the Serbs) but founded no major public institution of social memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The relative paucity of institutions was remedied in the arst decade of socialist rule, which began in 1945. Guided by the belief that each of the six republics of Yugoslavia should have its own cultural and educational institutions , socialist leaders in their arst years of rule established the University of Sarajevo, the National and University Library, the State Archive of Bosnia-Herzegovina , and the Museum of Liberation. They also supported the Regional Museum and strengthened its scientiac programs. At the same time, most archival holdings of the Regional Museum were transferred to the State Archive, and the records of the Ottoman regional government were turned over to...