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Culture in Dialogue Seminars: Keeping Channels of Communication Open

SIEF stands for free and open communication across boundaries, borders, and disciplines. Today, with old divisions reappearing in Europe, we believe that specialists in Ethnology, Folklore, Anthropology, and related fields, have a duty to highlight lessons of the past and show that, through dialogue, we can reach better understandings of the world and each other. The SIEF Board introduces Culture in Dialogue, a series of occasional online seminars intended to encourage, initiate, and develop communication between East and West.

The inaugural event on 14 July at 18:00-20:00 (CEST) featured Stef Jansen, University of Sarajevo.

How can we formulate non-identitarian questions about 'ethnic war'? 
Stef Jansen (University of Sarajevo)


Taking up SIEF's invitation I will return to my ethnographic research in the aftermath of the post-Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s to elicit reflection about the current war in Ukraine. My starting point is that a key contribution of anthropologists is to raise prickly questions that tend to be neglected or suppressed in established, seemingly self-evident representations of the phenomena we study. For a discipline traditionally preoccupied with 'culture' and 'identity', this becomes especially tricky when faced with so-called 'ethnic' wars legitimised in an identitarian register. In such situations, how can we formulate productive questions without replicating such identitarian legitimations? In this talk I will address challenges that I encountered in my research on antinationalism in Serbia and Croatia and on the (non-)return of displaced persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to suggest some avenues for reflection about the current war in Ukraine in the subsequent discussion. 


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Another event is planned for the end of 2022/beginning of 2023, after which we invite WG chairs to propose seminars or similar events designed to encourage continued transnational communication and understanding in the face of these immensely challenging times. Speakers do not necessarily need to be SIEF members, but should have expertise within the fields of Ethnology, Folklore, or related fields.