Living critically in the present: Youth Activism in Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Giulia Carabelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reflects upon the conditions and implications of living in a protracted state of social and political crisis. Through these considerations, I will explore the strategies implemented by a youth organisation in Mostar that deals with the socio-political inconsistencies of the post-conflict scenario. The paper starts by unravelling the significance of the particular form of normalised crisis by discussing how the problem-solving approach to the Bosnia Herzegovina emergency created by the wars in the 90s led to the creation of a political and administrative system unable to guarantee stability. In particular, the paper critically engages with the present
of Mostar, characterised by stillness, immobility, stagnancy, and the general withdrawal from a proactive engagement with politics. The specificity of Mostar as a city, where nothing seems to happen, leads to the perception that change is difficult to achieve or even to imagine. Yet, this paper is also interested in providing a glimpse of how living in a critical present empowers young activists who feel the urge to create moments of urban disruptions in which the very possibility of a more just and peaceful future could be imagined. In particular, this paper critically examines the activities implemented by Abart, a platform for art production and urban research with the aim of exploring the ways in which creative practice becomes an instrument of political intervention. Further, this paper argues that by embracing nostalgia, as a means
of re-appropriating Yugoslav ideals of peace and togetherness among different ethno-national communities, young activists draw on the past to critically imagine how a different future could be built.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-64
JournalEuropean Perspectives Journal
Issue number1(8)
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Mostar
  • Nostalgia
  • Crisis
  • Politics of Art
  • Grassroots Activism


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