Crimes against the Historic Landscape

The obsession of nation-states with self-confirmatory monumental heritage, its linkage to national sovereignty rights, and the selective preservation of “authentic” national historic landscapes can only lead to their manufacture through overt “heritage cleansing”–  as noted in the article below about the ongoing proceedings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague.              

The mad delusion that the past was “pure” and the present inconveniently disrupted by historically intrusive Others is shared by many nations, the most obvious examples (but certainly not the only ones!) being the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Middle East (Read: Israel’s and Palestine’s toxically superimposed “heritage lists”).                

I am convinced that the willful Heritage Destruction that regularly occurs in the name of National Identity and Historical Preservation will be remembered as one of the barbaric tendencies of our times.  Especially because what is left is a kind of kitschy, trivialized pseudo-memory, enshrined at the officially approved national “heritage attractions,” selling leisure-time diversion, “authentic” folklore and historical factoids, snacks, cold drinks, and suitably trivial souvenirs.      (March 2010)


 From The Guardian:              

Karadzic’s ‘holy war’

Karadzic’s talk of ‘holy war’ is no rhetorical exaggeration for the court. He and his supporters believed God was on their side

Marcus Tanner  –  Tuesday 2 March 2010 13.00 GMT

Listening to Radovan Karadzic describe his war against the Bosnian Muslims as “holy”, it’s tempting to think he is making a bad joke, or fooling the judges. This would be to mistake both the man and his supporters. Most of the Bosnian Serb fighters serving under him that I met in the early 1990s talked the same crusading talk, jumbling up ethnic, economic and religious grievances against their Muslim neighbours, and claiming to be avenging the Turkish conquest of Bosnia in the 15th and 16th century.              

Aladza Mosque in Foca... BEFORE


Their strident confessional animosity explained their obsession with blowing up religious monuments – whatever their historic value. That’s why Bosnia lost the lovely 16th-century “painted” mosque in Foca in eastern Bosnia, and the soaring Ferhadija mosque in Banja Luka, in the north-west, which disappeared along with every other mosque (and Catholic church) they could get hold of…              


The Serb grievances went back a long way. Bosnia’s big landowners, the so-called “begs”, were Muslims, descendants of the ancient Christian gentry who converted under the Ottomans. Most old families in the towns were also Muslim. That lent the Bosnian war its peasants-versus-townsfolk as well as a Christian-versus-Muslim angle. Westerners often couldn’t figure out why Karadzic’s fighters seemed so indifferent to, or even satisfied by, the destruction of “their” old libraries and old towns. In reality, though the Serbs had migrated en masse into the towns after the communist takeover in 1945, many felt little ownership of this still alien landscape of mosques and minarets…              

To read the full story, click here.                


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Is this a warning or a prophecy?       


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