Religion in Truth and Reconciliation Initiatives

Religion, Truth and Reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

This is a two-year research project focusing on the conditions for further movement towards Truth and Reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Repeated attempts to drive forward a formal Truth and Reconciliation Commission have, despite promising signs of support at various levels, ultimately not succeeded.

Through surveys, interviews, focus groups, expert seminars and stakeholder dialogues, this project examines local understandings of both practical and basic conceptual issues which will determine priorities for further progress.

What needs are met by initiatives to confront the past? What needs to be done to improve relations across divisions? What will improve the provision for trustworthy public services crossing these divisions, whether it be education, media, justice or otherwise? Should a truth and reconciliation process focus on populations often characterized as intransigent? On movements and individuals prepared to break with the divisions of the past? On victims? On the young? On women? On secular or religious citizens? Or on a diverse range of processes and actors able to create ‘two-way windows’ between otherwise divided communities?

Truth and Reconciliation Processes are often brokered by religious figures, and the first initiatives to promote truth and reconciliation commissions in Bosnia-Herzegovina have involved such figures. How are religious figures received as brokers in local conditions, does the blend of secularity and religion in Bosnia make this a complex and contentious addition to an already difficult peace-building process? How do encounters across interreligious or religious-secular boundaries impact on social and political relations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, from the local to the national level? Are there contributions to the process of building a multicultural environment based on mutual acceptance for which religious communities are best suited? Which religious or secular actors are best equipped to make such contributions, and what resources and training or education processes could be put in place to expand the circles of effective contributors? What spheres of religious communal life are important to involve in addressing the core issues at stake in building relations across identity boundaries?

A dedicated team at the University of Edinburgh is working on this project in collaboration with academics and other specialists from across Bosnia-Herzegovina, from its region, and internationally.

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