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Title: Exploring alternative geographies, politics and identities in Bosnia and Herzegovina through contemporary art practices
Author: Whelan, C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 7299
Awarding Body: University College London (UCL)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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An extensive literature in political geography has examined the breakup of Yugoslavia and the contested politics of its successor states. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a focus of particular attention due to the scale of violence that took place there and its complexity as the most multicultural state in Yugoslavia. However, existing studies have tended to maintain a focus on wartime events and the post-war fragmentation of the country, overlooking the ways in which these are being reworked creatively outside of orthodox political channels. In light of growing geographical interest in art, the thesis examines how Bosnia is being reworked through artistic practices and the implications of this for understandings of the region. Conceptually, the thesis draws on feminist and subaltern approaches to geopolitics as well as debates in art theory and practice. Methodologically, it is based on ethnographic fieldwork and participation in ongoing art projects, as well as research on Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav art history. Engaging with artists and art practices, the thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the alternative geographies, politics and identities of contemporary Bosnia. While recognising the role of overtly political art, the thesis emphasises various forms of antipolitical art practice that question dominant narratives, add new layers to understandings of place, and allow for the redefinition of identity. The thesis also demonstrates how, through alternative networks and practices, artists are engaged in a process of normalising space. The argument is not that past events should be ignored but that artists are creating opportunities for multiple engagements with contested places. The thesis therefore moves the political geography literature on Bosnia forward by highlighting under-researched practices and suggesting new avenues of inquiry. More broadly, the analysis has implications for the way the region is studied and suggests orientations for the study of art in contested contexts.
Supervisor: Ingram, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available