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Challenging the official discourse on return policies: The relevance of a sociological approach in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina

[journal article]

Bretonnière, Sandrine

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-377411

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Abstract Favoring the return of refugees and of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their pre-war homes is one of the cornerstones of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreements which put an end to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The policy's objective was to reverse the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by warring parties, and to allow individuals and families to restart their lives as soon as possible (a common assumption being that refugees are in a time and psychological limbo). Based on ethnographic data collected over four years in the post-war period, I will show that return is a dynamic and multi-directional process, with complex individual and collective parameters. The decision to return is neither uniform nor universal; it is a personal response to fear, trauma, experience in exile or in displacement, and one's ability to adjust to a post-war environment with new constraints. In this perspective, my purpose in this article is to underscore how qualitative research methods allow the emergence of a social reality largely downplayed (or ignored) by political and institutional actors.
Keywords refugee; Bosnia and Herzegovina; displaced person; policy on refugees; ethnic conflict; ethnomethodology
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration; Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnosociology; Special areas of Departmental Policy
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 19-34
Journal Annals of the University of Bucharest / Political science series, 13 (2011) 1
ISSN 1582-2486
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works