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Post-conflict tourist landscapes: between the heritage of conflict and the hybridization of tourism activity

Observations from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zeid A. Kassouha
Cet article est une traduction de :
Paysage touristique post-conflit : entre patrimonialisation du conflit et hybridation de l’activité touristique [fr]
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
Post-Konflikt-Tourismus: zwischen Patrimonialisierung des Konflikts und Hybridisierung der Tourismusaktivität [de]

Résumé

The upheavals caused by armed conflicts introduce profound changes in the tourism landscape. Physical, social or moral upheavals recompose the existing heritage and lead to its reinterpretation, they also create new heritage generated by the conflict itself. Post-conflict tourism is then in a situation of hybridization, between tourist practices detached from the events of the war (cultural tourism, seaside, etc.), and other practices that are intimately linked to these events (memory tourism, dark tourism, etc.).
In this paper, we retrace the dynamics of this post-conflict "tourism resilience," through the observation of two examples in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar. We explore the urban and tourist landscape of these two cities in order to identify the different forms of tourism, memorialization or heritagization practices, related to the legacy of the Bosnian war (1992-1995).

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Introduction

  • 1 Initially a physical concept indicating "the ability of an object to recover its initial state afte (...)
  • 2 The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in April 1992 amidst inter-community tensions exacerba (...)

1This paper, based on a field study in Bosnia and Herzegovina, provides an overview of the resilience1 process in a post-conflict tourism landscape. It aims to analyze the different forms of adaptation of tourism to the post-conflict context and the heritagization and memorialization approaches related to the Bosnian war (1992-1995)2. The study includes a comparison between two cities: Mostar, the main city in the south of the country, and Sarajevo the capital. We will analyze the influence of the political, social and ethnic contexts, which differ from one city to the other, in the approach taken to place the memory of the conflict in heritage and / or tourism.

2As the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H) ended in late 1995, our study is now taking place in a "cooling" terrain after two decades of peace in the country. This peace is often described in B-H as being "negative", characterized by the mere absence of armed conflict and not by true reconciliation between the different communities (Clark, 2009). In a context where the social dynamics are still tense, tourism can contribute to the construction of peace (Alluri 2009, Becken and Carmignani 2016, Causevic and Lynch 2011, Jafari 1989, Upadhayaya 2013), or it could, conversely, hinder the rebuilding of cohesion between the different communities of the country (Farmaki 2017, p 533, Poria and Ashworth 2009, Webster and Timothy 2006). It depends on the social, cultural and political factors related to the peculiarities of the region and expressed by the emotional relationship to the memory of the conflict and the traces it has left in the landscape. In this article, we try to situate the places studied in an emotional chart ranging from "hot" to "cold", which could eventually create a grid for understanding the interpretation of heritages and memories of the traumatic events.

I. Memory of the Conflict - Methods of Observation

3During our field trip to Mostar and Sarajevo in 2016, we conducted our observations by immersion in the urban and peri-urban areas that are the target of tourist visits related to the conflict. This immersion allowed us to conduct independent observations of the urban landscape (especially the historic centers) and the attitudes of tourists and locals towards the memories and traces of the conflict (whether heritagized or not). On the other hand, it made it possible to analyze the discourse adopted by local tourism stakeholders in the context of ordinary tourist services and in the various heritage mediation tools offered to visitors.

4A more specialized conversation, collected through semi-structured interviews (five interviews in Sarajevo and four in Mostar) with local tourist stakeholders (agents and managers of tourist offices and museums, guides, managers of service establishments) allowed us to complete the analysis and to clarify some gray areas that still existed.

  • 3 Translated into French by the terms "dark", "black", "obscure" or "macabre" tourism, semantic analy (...)
  • 4 Tourism to places "with which one maintains a strong personal biographical relationship, (...), tho (...)
  • 5 Visiting "places of proven, alledged or imagined family origins" (Bachimon and Dérioz, 2010)

5In the scope of reading mobilized for this study, the forms of tourism which appear generally after the armed conflicts will be summoned as indicators of the changes induced by the war. In particular, dark tourism3, that refers to visiting sites related to death, disasters or human suffering (Lennon and Foley 2000, 3). This concept, born in the mid-1990s, can in some cases lead to confusion because it shares the same terrain with other forms of tourism, such as memory tourism4. The latter has a personal dimension that differentiates it from dark tourism, and makes it a kind of "post-traumatic affinity tourism5".

6The other important factor we observe is heritage. In a post-conflict context, we distinguish two broad categories: the pre-existing heritage already constituted before the conflict, and the heritage created by the conflict. We thus differentiate the "preserved" or "rehabilitated" heritage (former heritage spared or little degraded by the conflict), the "new" heritage (resulting from the conflict) and the "hybrid" heritage (ancient heritage whose symbolic value was modified by the conflict) (Kassouha 2018, pp. 184-189).

II. Similarities and contrasts

7The urban landscape of the two cities has many similarities, with features more or less accentuated from one place to another. We have to highlight in both cases the omnipresence of traces of conflict in the urban landscape. We often find facades of buildings still showing the damage of conflict, left as they are, partially restored or had simply their holes plugged. The other striking element is the discontinuity of the urban landscape (Levy 2005), the contrast between the modern and the old, between new or renovated buildings and damaged or destroyed buildings, which rub shoulders and mix frequently (Figure 1).

8In both cities, the historic center, a central tourist area, has been restored, although traces of the conflict still remain. There are private exhibitions offered to tourists, they feature photos of the conflict and its key events (the siege of Sarajevo, the Srebrenica massacre, the destruction of the Old Bridge of Mostar, etc.).

Figure 1 : Examples of discontinuous cityscape in Sarajevo (A) and in Mostar (B).

Figure 1 : Examples of discontinuous cityscape in Sarajevo (A) and in Mostar (B).

KASSOUHA, Z. 2016

  • 6 This is the most frequently sold product to tourists according to a souvenir shop manager of the hi (...)

9The souvenir shops of both historic centers also contribute to the presence of conflict in the landscape. On their shelves, war-related products are often offered, such as bullet casings turned into pens6 or other by-products.

10But beyond these similarities, the two cities also represent significant contrasts, related to the history and socio-political dynamics of each city. It is these differences that interest us the most because they reveal key elements for understanding post-conflict tourism developments in the field.

III. Sarajevo, memorialization and balancing

  • 7 These are impacts of shells on the ground that have been filled with a red resin, giving them a flo (...)

11Commemorative procedures (offered for tourism or otherwise) are frequent in Sarajevo. Memorials to the dead honoring the victims mark out the urban space. The monument to the memory of children who died during the siege of the city is particularly noteworthy. It is composed of a central fountain with a glass sculpture and on the side metal cylinders on which the names of the children are engraved. To say nothing of the "Roses of Sarajevo"7 scattered on the ground throughout in the city.

12The other aspect that is very present in Sarajevo is that of its past as an Olympic city. It had hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1984. The superimposition of these two events marks a deep bifurcation in the history of Sarajevo, which in less than a decade changed its status from "Olympic city" to "martyred city" (Naef, 2016) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: At the crossroads of the Olympic past and the memory of the war in Sarajevo.

Figure 2: At the crossroads of the Olympic past and the memory of the war in Sarajevo.

Former sports ground of the Olympic Games transformed into an improvised cemetery during the conflict; it became nowadays the Cemetery of the Martyrs. The graves of the victims rub shoulders in the shadow of the column of the Olympic flame.

KASSOUHA 2016

13From the point of view of "conventional" tourism, the city benefits from the attractiveness of its Ottoman-style historic center and its many museums (Naef 2014, pp. 289-291). A dynamic and festive atmosphere reigns over the city-center as a whole. Many cafes, bars and restaurants in this part of Sarajevo attract a young, local clientele. The majority of hotels and hostels, popular with young international tourists, are also there.

Map 1: Location of conflict memory sites visited during fieldwork in Sarajevo.

Map 1: Location of conflict memory sites visited during fieldwork in Sarajevo.

Graphic: KASSOUHA 2016, Map: © OpenStreetMap Contributors

A. Memorialization and urban dark tourism 

  • 8 Main artery of Sarajevo very regularly targeted by snipers during the siege of the city killing and (...)

14The forms of memorialization and the traces of destruction called up make Sarajevo a Mecca for dark tourism. On Sniper Alley8 (Map 1) the facades of many residential buildings are riddled with bullets or damaged by shell fire.

15On the other hand, the great diversity of places of worship have mostly been renovated, whether mosques, churches (Catholic or Orthodox) or synagogues. These places contribute to the image conveyed by Sarajevo as enjoying a high quality of communal life, or the "Jerusalem of the Balkans" (Naef 2014, pp. 289-290).

16As part of our analysis, two places offering interpretations of the history of the conflict in Sarajevo draw our attention:

  • The B-H History Museum, and the memory of everyday life

  • 9 The armed Communist movement of resistance to Nazism, led by Marshal Tito during the Second World W (...)
  • 10 Since the end of the conflict, B-H governance has been divided into several administrative levels. (...)

17The museum (Map 1, point 2) contains permanent exhibitions on life in the Yugoslav era, and the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war and its subsequent reconstruction. References to the Yugoslav era are frequent because the museum was initially dedicated to the "Partisans"9.
In the "multi-layered administration of B-H"10, the museum is managed at the state level, unlike other similar institutions attached to a more dynamic local authority (the municipality or canton).

18The museum’s iconic permanent exhibition "Sarajevo under Siege" (Figure 3) provides an interesting framework for studying the interpretation of the memory of conflict. It represents a description of the daily life of the people of Sarajevo during the years of siege that the city endured. This daily life is shown in several aspects: household objects, the "improvisations" to survive (to keep warm, to provide transport without fuel, to get supplies, to treat the wounded), and even to be entertained through cultural events that were organized during the siege.

  • 11 These two massacres resulted in dozens of deaths and were triggers for NATO's military intervention (...)
  • 12 « With this exhibition, we have tried to avoid giving final judgments, ideological opinions and qua (...)

19Some objects represent, contrariwise, the "non-survival" of the inhabitants. This includes fragments of mortar shells, personal belongings found on victims of bombing and items and press clippings related to the two "Markale" market massacres that took place in 1994 and 199511. At the entrance, a sign warns visitors of the emotional shocks that exposure could create.
The mediating interpretation in this exhibition is represented as "neutral" and limited to the description of the facts without providing any moral judgment12. Any speech that could evoke the responsibility of a particular community in the siege of the city and the suffering inflicted on the inhabitants has been carefully avoided

20The other aspect that the exhibition tries to convey is that of the "witnessing" brought along by the inhabitants themselves. It includes a participatory dimension that allows residents to contribute by bringing personal items from the period of the siege and recounting their memories of that time. The exhibition, therefore, is a collection of objects and testimonies of the "micro-history" (Revel 1996) that helps to grasp the situation in Sarajevo during the siege.

21The exhibition is therefore an interface of memorialization, contextualization and testimony, aimed at explaining the facts, as much to foreign tourists as to the many school groups who visit it.

Figure 3: The permanent exhibition dedicated to the conflict, "Sarajevo under Siege" at the B-H History Museum in Sarajevo

Figure 3: The permanent exhibition dedicated to the conflict, "Sarajevo under Siege" at the B-H History Museum in Sarajevo

KASSOUHA 2016

  • Tunnel of Hope, the sweetened memory

  • 13 Constructed in the greatest secrecy in 1993, the tunnel extended nearly 800 metres underneath the t (...)
  • 14 Agence France-Presse, "The Sarajevo War Tunnel Survives as a Museum", New York Times, 1 February 20 (...)

22The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, Tunel spasa (Bosnian Serbian-Croatian Tunnel of Salvation), known to tourists as the Tunnel of Hope (Figure 4), is located at the south-west end of the city (Map 1, point 4). This tunnel served to supply Sarajevo during the siege13 and was the only (relatively) protected passage to the rest of the territory controlled by the Bosniak and Croat forces. After the end of the conflict, having lost its utility, most of the tunnel collapsed. There remains only the part which constitutes the south exit, leading to a private house. The family who owned the house turned the place into a museum after the war14. The canton of Sarajevo took possession of it in 2012 as part of a future project to rebuild the entire tunnel and open it to tourists (Naef 2016, pp. 187-194).

23On the spot everything is done to enhance, even to reconstitute, the traces of the conflict. The venues offer a mix of memorialization work and staging. The context of the siege is presented through maps and explanatory photos. Objects, especially for military use, are on display as well as re-enactments that recreate with mannequins the process of transporting arms and food, evacuating the wounded, etc. The visitor can take the small preserved portion of the tunnel that stretches for twenty meters before joining one of the screening rooms that broadcast a loop documentary on the siege of the city. A souvenir shop and a reconstruction of a "minefield" are installed in the courtyard.

24

Figure 4: Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, with the portion of the tunnel that tourists can use during the visit.

Figure 4: Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, with the portion of the tunnel that tourists can use during the visit.

KASSOUHA 2016

25By its layout, the museum reproduces a recurring phenomenon in the places of memory, where the balance between the conservation of the site and its adaptation to the tourist visits turns out to be delicate. According to Dominique Chevalier and Isabelle Lefort, in "places of painful memory", the "process of beautification, by embellishment but especially perhaps by scheduling, builds both the very possibility of the visit and its denaturation" (2016). Thus, the staging of transport in the tunnel and the minefield, installed next to the "real" tunnel, play two opposite roles. On the one hand, they provide a visual testimony of the situation at the time of the conflict. And on the other hand, by their "artificial" aspect they add a "quasi-playful" dimension which attenuates the emotion engendered by the memory of the sufferings endured during the siege, making the site "less dark" (Stone 2006).

  • 15 More than 100,000 visitors every year, according to the museum brochure collected from the tourist (...)

26The museum is now the most visited tourist site in Sarajevo (Naef 2016, p.187)15. It is managed by the "Memorijala Fund" (Memory Fund) of the Sarajevo Canton and dedicated to the memory of the victims of the war.

27
On the other hand, the speech used on site is much less consensual than the one adopted at the Museum of History. In the explanatory panels we find references to the responsibility of the "Serbian forces" or the "Army of Republika Srpska" (in addition to the JNA) in the siege that aimed to create "Greater Serbia".

  • 16 Alic, Anes, « Saving Sarajevo’s Lifeline », Time, 19 March 2002, http://content.time.com/time/magaz (...)
  • 17 Burns, John F., « A Crude 1,000-Yard Tunnel Is Sarajevo’s Secret Lifeline », The New York Times, 15 (...)

28The museum now offers an "idealized" version of the tunnel’s history, highlighting only the "undeniable" positive impact it generated during the siege. On the other hand, the negative aspects have been completely concealed, such as the black market which multiplied by ten the prices of goods passed through the tunnel16 or the exorbitant fees for passage that people were charged17. The partiality of this story even annoys some guides and tourism professionals in Sarajevo (Naef 2014, 265).

29The "Hope" label of this museum is therefore used as an element of communication to soften the interpretation of the place presented to tourists.

IV. Mostar, a conflictual memory

30In Mostar, for the majority of tourists coming to see the historic center, including the Old Bridge "Stari Most" (Map 2), symbol of the city, the conflict seems to belong to the past and its traces are limited to a few fallow buildings, and to bullet and shrapnel marks on certain facades. Yet the tension of the conflict is still prevalent today. The city is still split in two and, despite the reconstruction of the bridge, the link between the Croatian and Bosnian communities remains almost broken.

31As such, we have not noticed any official memorialization work in Mostar. In the historic center and adjacent neighborhoods are several small cemeteries improvised during the conflict to bury the victims, but they are not part of an official memorialization process, unlike the Sarajevo cemetery.

32A simple inscription "Do not forget" is visible on two stones, affixed on each side of the Stari Most. Residents would have posted them without the official help of the municipality, to remind visitors of the tragic destruction of the bridge during the conflict.

  • 18 After their alliance in 1992 to repel the offensive of the Serbian forces, the Bosnian and Croatian (...)

33This lack of an official approach to memorialization and tourism heritage of the conflict in Mostar is a direct result of the community tension in the city that goes back to the conflict18. The memorialization thus remains on the side of private initiatives, and still constitutes a source of discord or even conflict between Bosnians and Croats.

34On the other hand, the historical center (with the Stari Most), which dates back mainly to the Ottoman era, is located in the Bosniak part of the city. This community sees itself as a "guarantor" of this heritage. The fact that the opposing side during the conflict (the "other" part of the city) participated in the destruction of this cultural heritage, reinforces the Bosniaks’ attachment to these places, as "guardians of the temple".

35With the boom in tourism in Mostar, it is the Bosniak side that benefits more. But despite this advantage of tourism on the Bosniak side, the Croatian side remains more prosperous with more capital and a more dynamic economic activity.

  • 19 Comments collected during the interview of a supervisor of the Mostar Tourist Info Centre on 04/07/ (...)
  • 20 A Croatian village of B-H where the Virgin Mary would have begun to appear in 1981 to several young (...)

36As for the visiting tourists’ activity in the city, it is mainly composed of excursionists19. Coming from Croatia, especially from Dubrovnik, or from other parts of B-H, they stop in Mostar during the day. The city also benefits from the flow of Catholic pilgrims who visit the village of Medjugorje20 located about thirty kilometers away.

MAP 2: Location of the various places studied in Mostar.

MAP 2: Location of the various places studied in Mostar.

Some are linked to the memory of the conflict, others to the tourist offer in the city or to persistent tensions between the Bosniak and Croatian communities.

Graphic: KASSOUHA 2016, Map: © OpenStreetMap Contributors

  • 21 Backpackers are one of the main segments of the tourism market in B-H in general (Causevic, 2008, p (...)

37In parallel, Mostar attracts another category of tourists: the young backpackers21, mostly Western (Causevic 2008, p.302) who are making the "tour of the Balkans" (Nelson, 2015) and stop in town for a day or two. They are certainly drawn to the historic center and the bridge, but it is also the story of the conflict that interests them. This is the main clientele of dark tourism in Mostar.

A. Dark tourism « off the beaten track »

  • 22 Le Petit Futé, « BANQUE DE VERRE (STAKLENA BANKA) - MOSTAR », petitfute.com, 2017, https://www.peti (...)

38The epicenter of this dark tourism is located a few dozen meters west of Stari Most, along the Bulevar (Map 2) where you can see the traces of conflict at the old front line. It is an example of urban tourism "off the beaten tracks" (Gravari-Barbas and Delaplace, 2015) while remaining dark tourism.
The highlight of this tourism is the Glass Bank (known by tourists as the most sensational "Sniper Tower") (Figure 5). This disused building, a dozen floors high, dominates the area and is a landmark for street-art enthusiasts. It is a bank that during the conflict served as a site for snipers for both the Serbian and Croatian forces22.

39Even though the building is easily accessible from the street, a visit to the upper floors is not recommended because of the multiple risks: the stairs and old elevator shafts are not equipped with guardrails, explosions have left holes on the ground that can cause a fall of several meters, the floor is littered with debris and shards of glass and the basement is permanently flooded. In addition, the building is a favoured location for drug addicts23. For these reasons tourists who venture to climb to the top do so in small groups, or accompanied by local guides.

Figure 5: The "Glass Bank" (Sniper Tower) in Mostar, external appearance (A) and entrance hall decorated with graffiti and street art (B).

40The absence of mediation in this type of site reinforces the tourists’ search for authenticity, to discover unknown faces of the place, without touristic "staging" (MacCannell 1973, 597). The "wasteland" aspect of the destroyed or damaged building, left as it is since the end of the conflict, fuels this perception of authenticity. The space, by its symbolism and its status as a former home of danger, gives visitors "a cold retrospective thrill" (Bachimon 2013, 75).

B. Memorialization and community tension

  • 24 HVO (Hrvatsko vijeće obrane) Croatian Defense Council, the main military force of Bosnian Croats du (...)
  • 25 ARBiH (Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine) Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during (...)
  • 26 AFP, « Explosion à Mostar sur fond de tensions accrues », 20 Minutes, 14 January 2013, http://www.2 (...)

41In the absence of a unifying memorial process in Mostar, community-based initiatives have been carried out by partisan actors which led to renewed tensions. In 2012, a Croatian veterans association set up a war memorial next to the City Hall (Map 2, point 2) in honor of HVO24 members (Croats) who died during the conflict. A month later an association of veterans of the Bosnian army responded by installing another memorial a few meters away in honor of the combatants of the ARBiH25 (Bosniaks) who died in combat. The tension created by these two memorial actions almost degenerated into conflict a few months later when the monument to ARBiH was partially destroyed by an explosive device26. The incident ended up being contained and the two monuments remained in place, one intact, the other disfigured (Figure 6).

42

Figure 6: The war memorial of ARBiH (Bosniak fighters) in Mostar, partially destroyed by an explosive device in January 2013 and left as is since.

Figure 6: The war memorial of ARBiH (Bosniak fighters) in Mostar, partially destroyed by an explosive device in January 2013 and left as is since.

KASSOUHA 2016

V. Feedback on the field observations

43The shift in memorialization noticed between Sarajevo and Mostar is in part the result of ethnic cleansing during the conflict, and subsequent policies by the partisan and nationalist forces of the three major politico-ethnic communities (Robin-Hunter, 2005). In territories that have become more "homogenous", intercommunity tension is lower, which makes the work of memorialization and interpretation easier.

  • 27 Clements, Max, « Sarajevo: a cosmopolitan capital in an ethnically cleansed state ». The Independen (...)

44Sarajevo lost the majority of its Serbian population: 10,500 people in the last census of the population in 2013, against 92,000 before the conflict27. Thus, the local authorities of the canton, which mainly represent a Bosniak population, assimilate the position of "victim" during the siege of the city to this single community. Hence the Tunnel Museum’s statement about the responsibility of the Serbian troops for the sufferings of the inhabitants. However the state-run B-H History Museum (which represents the three communities) avoids the question of responsibilities.

45In Mostar the situation is more complex. Massive damage (including the destruction of Stari Most) occurred during the second phase of the conflict in 1993-94 when Croats and Bosniaks clashed. However, it is the members of these two same communities who share the city today, which makes any interpretation or memorialization particularly delicate.

  • 28 Mulongo, Freddy, « Sarajevo: La ville s’est reconstruite à tour de bras, mais les habitants ne peuv (...)

46Nevertheless, memorial tensions are not peculiar to Mostar, for even the memorialization that seems consensual in Sarajevo can also be controversial. The monument for the child victims of the siege, mentioned previously, caused some commotion: only the names of the Bosniak children were inscribed on it, those of the other child victims, in particular the Serbs, do not appear28.

47This fragility leaves the field free to the commercial appropriation of memory by the private actors. The exhibitions located in the tourist areas of the two cities, as well as the sale of souvenirs related to the war, make us question the approach taken by these private actors vis-à-vis the memory of the conflict. The location of the exhibits and their signs posted only in English, indicate their purely touristic usefulness, relegating the actual memory to the background (Figure 7). This commodification, whose ethical aspects are debatable (Chevalier and Lefort 2016, Sharpley 2009, Wight 2009), can lead to a vicious cycle of tension fueled by economic interests. It can also perpetuate the "dramatized" image (Baudrillard 1970: 31) of a destination still "under tension".

Figure 7: "Exhibited" memory.

Figure 7: "Exhibited" memory.

Private exhibitions for tourists in Sarajevo (A) and Mostar (B, C) focus on the theme of the Bosnian war and the massacres that took place there.

KASSOUHA 2016

48The following table summarizes the different points of similarity or divergence between Sarajevo and Mostar with regard to the memorialization, heritagization and tourism of places related to the conflict.

Table 1: Summary table of comparison in Sarajevo and Mostar with regard to the memorialization and heritagization of the conflict, as well as tourism in the post-conflict urban landscape

  • 29 Notion originally evoked by several specialists in architecture and urban planning from the former (...)

Sarajevo

Mostar

Memorialization

Recurrent in the urban space

Mixed (between formal and private initiatives)

(Relatively) consensual

Thematic (civilian victims, children, combatants, sarcastic approach, etc.)

Not very visible in the urban space

Private initiatives only

Subject to controversy

Communitarian

Abstract (urbicide29, street-art, etc.)

Heritagization of Conflict

Official, undertaken in several places by the public authorities

Unofficial, driven by private actors / civil society

New heritage + hybrid heritage

Unofficial only, carried by private actors / civil society (in the absence of an official approach)

Hybrid heritage

Official absence of new heritage

Tourism in the urban landscape

Practiced in the historic center and in several places related to the conflict

Most sites put on tour / mediated

Low intercommunal tension

Practiced mainly in the historic center

Less activity in places related to conflict (no mediation / tourism)

Reflects the persistent community divide in the city (tourism activity mainly located in the Bosniak side)

Dark tourism

Practiced in: dedicated spaces (museums / memorials), non-heritagized / non-tourism urban spaces, new heritage, hybrid heritage

Institutionalized

Integrated in the image of the city among other elements and other tourist attractions

Practiced in: non-heritagized / non-tourism urban spaces, hybrid heritage

Not institutionalized

Excluded from the official tourist promotion process

Practiced "off the beaten path"

VI. Resilience or adaptation?

49The examples we have mobilized demonstrate some of the changes caused by the conflict in the tourist landscape of Mostar and Sarajevo. Could we identify these changes as forms of resilience? Or is it just the adaptation of tourism (Gravari-Barbas 2019) to post-conflict circumstances?
The appropriation of the different scientific disciplines, human and applied, of the notion of resilience, has given rise to a "nebula of concepts" surrounding the definition and different uses of the term according to the domain (Quenault 2013). In our case, the field observation approach that we adopted corresponds to a "reactive" approach to resilience, focusing on "the ability of individuals and territories to recover from a catastrophic event" (Bouisset et al. 2018).

50From this point of view, the examples observed on our two terrains can be identified as forms of resilience, despite the differences noted in the ways of approaching the conflict and integrating it (or not) into the touristic presentations.

  • 30 Patrick Naef offers an in-depth analysis of several examples of guided tours dedicated to the Bosni (...)

51Nevertheless, the case of Sarajevo seems to be simpler to pin down. Christina Aschan-Leygonie reminds us that resilience implies that the system maintains its structure not "by returning to the same state as before the disturbance, but by integrating transformations while evolving" (2000). In Sarajevo, in addition to the landscape, the conflict has also changed the nature of the tourism presentation by adding a range of products built around the theme of war30. Some actors and witnesses of the Bosnian war began their conversion in tourism, mainly in thematic visits around conflict (Naef 2014, pp. 295-297). The structured development of these presentations, alongside other forms of tourism still practiced in Sarajevo, is a form of post-conflict tourism resilience. The integration of conflict-related sites, such as the Tunnel Museum, into the overall touristic scene also reflects this "resilient" evolution of tourism in the city

52In the case of Mostar the evolution is more ambiguous. The traditional tourist presentation, focused on the Stari Most and the historic center, has indeed recovered since the physical reconstruction of these places, including the bridge completed in 2004. However, the "avoidance strategy" (Bigand et al., 2011) adopted by public actors with regard to heritage tourism and the memory of the conflict, places the cursor halfway between a "return to normal" and an evolution that integrates new landscape elements generated by the conflict. The case of Mostar thus corresponds, from our point of view, to a process of tourist resilience that has been initiated but not completed, hampered by the social and political tensions and the multitude of issues surrounding the legacy of the conflict in this city.

Conclusion: the many stakes of post-conflict tourism. 

53Dark tourism as a form of auxiliary tourism

54Whether in Sarajevo or Mostar, dark tourism is not the main attraction or the predominant tourist activity. It is part of a post-conflict landscape and is therefore added to the pre-existing tourist attractions of the destination. This dimension of dark tourism "added" to "conventional" tourism that existed before the conflict is, in our opinion, a particularly interesting track to be observed in other areas, as is shown for example in Northern Ireland (Causevic and Lynch 2008). The non-confinement to a "dramatized" image linked to the war, while integrating the heritage from this period into the "heritage stock" of the destination, would allow a certain balance of interpretation between the pre-existing heritage and the new heritage.

55Memorialization, heritage and the political issue

  • 31 See the example of the "Partisan Memorial Cemetery" in Mostar. Designed in the 1960s to celebrate t (...)

56The political landscape and possible intercommunity tensions play a central role in the process of memorialization and the post-conflict evolution of heritage. This applies to new heritage as well as pre-existing heritage. Certainly, civil society (and tourists) sometimes manage to "heritagize" places in an unofficial way. But it is the local and / or national public and political actors who decide on the official nature of the heritagization or even the (active or passive) "deheritagization" of the places31.

57An "intangible heritage" of the conflict?

58Our work initially focused on material heritage modified or created by conflict. But with the advance of research, other immaterial elements have challenged us. Examples include survivors’ stories (faithful or fictional, neutral or biased accounts), expertise developed under siege, linguistic or artistic expressions related to the period of war, and sometimes even the urban legends that emerge from episodes of conflict. It is a constellation of elements that can be considered by some social groups (for example, the people of Sarajevo) as part of their identity redefined by conflict. A part of a collective memory transmitted from generation to generation by the narration or through mediation and conservation media, such as the exhibition of the history museum of B-H that we have mentioned. This sketch could be raw material for recognition as intangible heritage.

  • 32 No official account of the 1992-1995 conflict is taught to tour guides throughout their training. D (...)

59Collecting these elements can help build a new historical narrative. An approach that would be useful in the case of B-H, where the absence of consensual historical narrative leaves room for sometimes diametrically opposed interpretations of events32 and contributes to fueling post-conflict inter-community tensions. A new inheritance, material and immaterial, resulting from the conflict, would be likely to help rebuild a collective identity that transcends the divisions of war.

60The emotional color chart and the transition "hot" / "cold"

61If the field study in B-H makes it possible to affirm that the "cold" approach is not yet relevant (Naef 2012), the decline in time and the emotional distance in the interpretation make the "hot" approach no longer suitable (Uzzell 1989). Thus, the memory of the conflict gives rise to a "lukewarm" interpretation (Kassouha 2018, pp. 300-304), where the emotional dimension is still lively but space-time has begun to attenuate it. This "warm" intermediate zone in which we situate the interpretation of the memory and heritage of the conflict in B-H (and in other areas) is far from homogeneous. In our Bosnian examples we have already noted a gap between the two cities. Sarajevo is thus located in a colder zone of the color chart, with a relatively consensual work of memorialization and heritage of the conflict (but not unanimous). While in Mostar, the "avoidance strategy" adopted by public actors reveals a warmer positioning, likely to generate tension.

62This subjective dimension of the relation to history (Lévi-Strauss 1993) explains in part the observed shift, from one area to another and from one culture to another, in the interpretation of the legacies of conflicts and other traumatic events. Evidently multiple factors, internal and external, related to the event, the place and the historical and socio-political context, are involved in this dynamic. The identification of the factors that influence these relationships between society / memory / history, and the study of their interactions, would be an important analytical tool. Such a measurement grid would enhance our understanding of the dynamics of tourism in the post-conflict and post-traumatic landscape in general, both in the short and long term.

63We present here, as a conclusion, a sketch of this grid in which we situate examples seen in Mostar and Sarajevo, in comparison with other more or less recent examples (the Battlefield of Verdun, the Auschwitz concentration camp, or the "still smoking" ruins of the destroyed neighbourhoods of Aleppo in Syria in early 2017 (Kassouha 2018, 261).

64

Figure 8: Representation of the "felt" interpretation of several examples of places related to "traumatic events", in B-H and elsewhere.

Figure 8: Representation of the "felt" interpretation of several examples of places related to "traumatic events", in B-H and elsewhere.

KASSOUHA 2019

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Notes

1 Initially a physical concept indicating "the ability of an object to recover its initial state after a shock or continuous pressure", taken up in the ecological and social sciences with systemic dimensions including the ability to absorb shocks and to integrate their effects in the functioning of the systems (Dauphiné and Provitolo 2007, 116). Applied to tourism, resilience comes in two forms: the resilience of communities / societies vis-à-vis the undesirable effects of tourism "quality for withstanding undesired change caused by tourism activity" (Berbés-Blázquez and Scott 2017, 11) and the resilience of tourism vis-à-vis shocks (socio-economic, political, natural disasters, ...) "the ability of the tourism system or a destination to recover from external shocks" (ibid). In our article we refer to the latter form with regard to the resilience of post-conflict tourism.

2 The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in April 1992 amidst inter-community tensions exacerbated by the independence referendum held in February of the same year. The Serbian (Orthodox) nationalist forces of the self-proclaimed Republika Srpska (RS), supported by the Yugoslav army (JNA), led the assault in an attempt to regain control of the country. They dominated part of the territory and besieged Sarajevo (the siege lasted for more than three years). The attack was countered by forces composed of Bosniaks (Muslims) and Croats (Catholics). In 1993, this alliance turned to confrontation, fueled by the separatist approaches of Croatian nationalists in Bosnia, supported by Croatia. This confrontation ended in 1994 under international pressure, with the creation of a federation between Bosniaks and Croats. In the summer of 1995, international military strikes forced the Serbian forces to negotiate the end of the conflict. The Dayton Agreement was ratified by all three parties in December 1995, sealing the end of the war. It stipulates the maintenance of the Republika Srpska [RS] and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina [FB-H] (between Bosniaks and Croats) as two entities of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also governs the sharing of power between the three communities. (Bougarel 1996).

3 Translated into French by the terms "dark", "black", "obscure" or "macabre" tourism, semantic analysis is still needed to define the most appropriate term. The very (too?) vast aspect of the concept itself makes the task even more delicate. This is why we chose using the English term “dark tourism" in the French version of this paper. Nevertheless, in the latest French-language publications, the term "tourisme sombre" (dark) seems to be increasingly used (ESPACE Magazine, 2017).

4 Tourism to places "with which one maintains a strong personal biographical relationship, (...), those of suffering, a loss, a past oppression lived personally or by members of the group to which one belongs" (Bechtel and Jurgenson 2013, p.13) where "the purely entertaining aspect passes (...) in the background" (Crahay 2014).

5 Visiting "places of proven, alledged or imagined family origins" (Bachimon and Dérioz, 2010)

6 This is the most frequently sold product to tourists according to a souvenir shop manager of the historical center of Sarajevo, comments collected on 09/07/2016

7 These are impacts of shells on the ground that have been filled with a red resin, giving them a floral appearance. They are scattered all over the city. Initially they marked the impacts of shells that caused several casualties. As the initiative was reiterated, there is no indication that all the "Roses" really mark places of brutal death. The approach is still part of the most common memory symbols in the city. However, the "Roses" are slowly disappearing as the city's pavements and sidewalks are maintained and renewed (Halilovich, 2013: 106).

8 Main artery of Sarajevo very regularly targeted by snipers during the siege of the city killing and wounding passers-by. The notoriety of this avenue with tourists today and its nickname go back to those dark hours of conflict.

9 The armed Communist movement of resistance to Nazism, led by Marshal Tito during the Second World War. This movement became the base of the JNA (Yugoslav People's Army) with the creation of Communist Yugoslavia in 1945.

10 Since the end of the conflict, B-H governance has been divided into several administrative levels. The State consists of two entities: the "Republika Srpska" (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB-H). The two entities are divided into municipalities. In FB-H, the municipalities are gathered into 10 cantons, while in RS, the system is more centralized and the cantons do not exist.

11 These two massacres resulted in dozens of deaths and were triggers for NATO's military intervention in the conflict. It was NATO aerial bombing of Serb outposts in the city's highlands (after the second massacre in 1995) that brought Serbs to the negotiating table and ended the siege of Sarajevo.

12 « With this exhibition, we have tried to avoid giving final judgments, ideological opinions and qualifications. We are leaving them to history science and time. We have primarily opted for being true witnesses of the time and events behind the Sarajevo “closed doors”, with the authentic exhibits being, hopefully, documents that the future will appreciate ». Source: presentation sign at the entrance of the exhibition.

13 Constructed in the greatest secrecy in 1993, the tunnel extended nearly 800 metres underneath the tarmac of Sarajevo Airport, which was then controlled by United Nations forces. This allowed the city to receive life support, electricity, fuel, and other necessities, and to resupply the Bosnian military forces with munitions and light arms. Source: Bosnia Report, Adriatic Light at the End of the Sarajevo Tunnel, Bosnia Report, No. 16, October 1996. http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/juloct96/adriatic.cfm, accessed on 16 January 2018.

14 Agence France-Presse, "The Sarajevo War Tunnel Survives as a Museum", New York Times, 1 February 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/01/international/europe/sarajevos-wartime-tunnel-survives-as-museum.html, accessed on 21 January 2018

15 More than 100,000 visitors every year, according to the museum brochure collected from the tourist information center.

16 Alic, Anes, « Saving Sarajevo’s Lifeline », Time, 19 March 2002, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,218633,00.html, accessed on 01 February 2018.

17 Burns, John F., « A Crude 1,000-Yard Tunnel Is Sarajevo’s Secret Lifeline », The New York Times, 15 August 1993, http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/15/world/a-crude-1000-yard-tunnel-is-sarajevo-s-secret-lifeline.html, accessed on 15 January 2018.

18 After their alliance in 1992 to repel the offensive of the Serbian forces, the Bosnian and Croatian forces ended-up in direct confrontation in 1993 caused by interethnic tensions and nationalist discourse. Mostar, which crystallized these tensions, was cut in two along the Bulevar, main north-south axis. The modern western part fell under Croatian control and the older eastern part under Bosniak control. Ethnic cleansing was practiced on both sides of the front line, exacerbating hatred between the two communities. On 9 November 1993, the forces HVO (Hrvatsko vijeće obrane) Croatian Defense Council destroyed the Stari Most, old Ottoman bridge and symbol of the city. This act of "urbicide" irreparably divided the population (Tratnjek, 2013). Despite an agreement signed in the United States in 1994 ending hostilities, and the identical reconstruction of the bridge in 2004, Mostar remained cut in two by an immaterial border for years after the end of the conflict. Even today, this cleavage between Croatian and Bosniak parties remains valid, although efforts have been made to unite the two sides of the city.

19 Comments collected during the interview of a supervisor of the Mostar Tourist Info Centre on 04/07/2016.

20 A Croatian village of B-H where the Virgin Mary would have begun to appear in 1981 to several young people from the village on a nearby hill. The "event" attracted attention and aroused a pilgrimage movement to the place with the recrudescence of the Marian apparitions since. This event would have contributed to forging the national identity (Catholic / post-Yugoslavian) of the Croats of the region (Claverie, 2002). The apparitions continue today, mobilizing a crowd of pilgrims.

21 Backpackers are one of the main segments of the tourism market in B-H in general (Causevic, 2008, p 304)

22 Le Petit Futé, « BANQUE DE VERRE (STAKLENA BANKA) - MOSTAR », petitfute.com, 2017, https://www.petitfute.com/v45968-mostar/c1173-visites-points-d-interet/c937-monuments/c924-architecture-contemporaine/1533781-banque-de-verre-staklena-banka.html, accessed on 01 July 2017.

23 « The Sniper Tower in Mostar », Kanannie, 29 October 2013, http://kanannie.com/2013/10/29/the-sniper-tower-in-mostar/, accessed on 13 August 2017.

24 HVO (Hrvatsko vijeće obrane) Croatian Defense Council, the main military force of Bosnian Croats during the war. See note

25 ARBiH (Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine) Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the conflict, mainly composed of Bosniaks

26 AFP, « Explosion à Mostar sur fond de tensions accrues », 20 Minutes, 14 January 2013, http://www.20min.ch/ro/news/monde/story/28691170, accessed on 30 January 2017.

27 Clements, Max, « Sarajevo: a cosmopolitan capital in an ethnically cleansed state ». The Independent. 26 August 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/sarajevo-a-cosmopolitan-capital-in-an-ethnically-cleansed-state-a7907956.html, accessed on 22 September 2018.

28 Mulongo, Freddy, « Sarajevo: La ville s’est reconstruite à tour de bras, mais les habitants ne peuvent pas se libérer de la guerre ! », Club de Mediapart, 18 June 2014, https://blogs.mediapart.fr/freddy-mulongo/blog/180614/sarajevo-la-ville-s-est-reconstruite-tour-de-bras-mais-les-habitants-ne-peuvent-pas-se-liberer-d, accessed on 10 February 2018.

29 Notion originally evoked by several specialists in architecture and urban planning from the former Yugoslavia. It describes the phenomenon of deliberate destruction of the city (Coward, 2008, pp. 38-39), a destruction that goes beyond the physical destruction of buildings and touches the city as a living space in common.

30 Patrick Naef offers an in-depth analysis of several examples of guided tours dedicated to the Bosnian war proposed by a variety of actors in Sarajevo: a veteran, a young Bosnian who lived through the siege as a child, a former British reporter who worked at Sarajevo during the conflict, as well as other offers of local tourist agencies (Naef, 2016, pp. 220-231).

31 See the example of the "Partisan Memorial Cemetery" in Mostar. Designed in the 1960s to celebrate the memory of the Partisans of the city, it was left unmaintained by the municipality since the end of the conflict in 1995. This state of neglect is due to political and identity reasons linked to the legacy of the Second World War and the emergence since the 1992-1995 conflict of ultranationalist currents (Kassouha, 2018, pp. 257-258).

32 No official account of the 1992-1995 conflict is taught to tour guides throughout their training. During the visits, some guides tell what they have witnessed during the conflict, others relate what was transmitted to them by the direct or indirect witnesses. In both cases, the absence of an official narrative leaves the guides free to "dramatize" the narrative, to the extent of presenting urban legends as historical facts or modifying certain information according to the political or community sensitivities of each, without any means of control by the authorities. Comments collected during the interview of Vedran Grebo, licensed tour guide in Sarajevo, on 07/07/2016.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1 : Examples of discontinuous cityscape in Sarajevo (A) and in Mostar (B).
Crédits KASSOUHA, Z. 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,1M
Titre Figure 2: At the crossroads of the Olympic past and the memory of the war in Sarajevo.
Légende Former sports ground of the Olympic Games transformed into an improvised cemetery during the conflict; it became nowadays the Cemetery of the Martyrs. The graves of the victims rub shoulders in the shadow of the column of the Olympic flame.
Crédits KASSOUHA 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,4M
Titre Map 1: Location of conflict memory sites visited during fieldwork in Sarajevo.
Crédits Graphic: KASSOUHA 2016, Map: © OpenStreetMap Contributors
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 7,2M
Titre Figure 3: The permanent exhibition dedicated to the conflict, "Sarajevo under Siege" at the B-H History Museum in Sarajevo
Crédits KASSOUHA 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,9M
Titre Figure 4: Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, with the portion of the tunnel that tourists can use during the visit.
Crédits KASSOUHA 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,8M
Titre MAP 2: Location of the various places studied in Mostar.
Légende Some are linked to the memory of the conflict, others to the tourist offer in the city or to persistent tensions between the Bosniak and Croatian communities.
Crédits Graphic: KASSOUHA 2016, Map: © OpenStreetMap Contributors
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 4,2M
Crédits KASSOUHA 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-7.jpg
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Titre Figure 6: The war memorial of ARBiH (Bosniak fighters) in Mostar, partially destroyed by an explosive device in January 2013 and left as is since.
Crédits KASSOUHA 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,0M
Titre Figure 7: "Exhibited" memory.
Légende Private exhibitions for tourists in Sarajevo (A) and Mostar (B, C) focus on the theme of the Bosnian war and the massacres that took place there.
Crédits KASSOUHA 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,8M
Titre Figure 8: Representation of the "felt" interpretation of several examples of places related to "traumatic events", in B-H and elsewhere.
Crédits KASSOUHA 2019
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/3984/img-10.png
Fichier image/png, 114k
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Référence électronique

Zeid A. Kassouha, « Post-conflict tourist landscapes: between the heritage of conflict and the hybridization of tourism activity », Via [En ligne], 15 | 2019, mis en ligne le 22 novembre 2019, consulté le 04 avril 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/3984 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/viatourism.3984

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Auteur

Zeid A. Kassouha

PhD in Geography, research Fellow, UMR Espace Dev (228) / Avignon Université

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