Nicolas Moll

Trans-European Research and Cooperation

In: Contemporary Southeastern Europe 2016, 3(1), 1-31
Abstract: Despite various attempts, the memory of persons who helped and rescued endangered persons “from the other side” during the breakup wars of Yugoslavia is rarely publicly acknowledged. There is, nevertheless, one exception: the case of Srđan Aleksić, a young Bosnian Serb who was killed while saving a Muslim acquaintance in Trebinje in January 1993. Since 2007, Srđan Aleksić has not only become publicly known, but his memory is also widely positively-connoted in different countries and by groups of various political and ethnic backgrounds in the post-Yugoslav space. How and why did this story become popular, while many others did not manage to do so? How strong or fragile is the consensus which seems to have been achieved so far around the memory of Aleksić? And what does the emergence of the Aleksić-story mean for the culture of remembrance in the post-Yugoslav space? In order to address these questions the article proceeds in the following way: First are presented the different steps of the memorialization of Srđan Aleksić from the war until today, and the spectrum of actors and activities which have been and are promoting him within this memorialization process. All these actors have been producing a main narrative around Aleksić, presenting him as a hero ; there are nuances within this discourse, but nevertheless one dominating perspective has emerged presenting the figure and story of Aleksić in a depoliticized-human way, what appears as a decisive factor for the achieved consensus around Aleksić, what is analyzed in the second part. The human-depoliticizing interpretation of Aleksić and his act is connected with three more specific consensus-building strategies which are applied to promote his story, what is the topic of the third part. In the fourth part are analyzed the resistances and reluctances in relation to the promotion of Aleksić, what will allow to address more deeply the question how far-reaching or limited the achieved consensus is. In the fifth part are explored additional reasons which explain the success of the Aleksić-story as a consensual hero-figure, by comparing his figure with other rescuer-figures related to the war in BiH. Finally, in the last part, the article asks for the larger political significance of the success of the Aleksić-narrative, explores to what extent the emergence of the Aleksić-figure constitutes something original within the post-Yugoslav space and also in Europe in general, and addresses two major problems in relation with the memorialization process of Aleksić. The general aim of the paper is to contribute to a better understanding of current memorialization processes in the post-Yugoslav space and to a discussion of possibilities and challenges for developing consensual symbols and memory sites in divided post-war societies