The Gendered Logic of Forgotten Places

Mardi, 3 Mai, 2016 - 12:00

REPI Seminar

Conference by Johanna Mannergren Selimovic (The Swedish Institute of International Affairs - UI)

Discussant: Nina WILÉN (REPI ULB)

@ ULB IEE, 39 avenue F. D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles (Kant Room) 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Free attendance but registration required: 

► pdf poster


The paper presented is co-authored with Annika Björkdahl, professor at Lund University


The Bosnian war of 1992-1995 left behind a geography of violence that is marked by absences of bodies, material voids and narrative silences. One of these places is the infamous rape camp in the hotel Vilina Vlas located in the small town of Višegrad in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. In this paper we address the co-constitution of ‘places of pain’ and ‘spaces of silence’. Through a close ethnographic reading of silences around Vilina Vlas we challenge the taboo of remembering a site typified by systemic sexual violence and analyse the process of denial by the aggressor and the stance of silence from the surrounding community. Yet these material absences and narrative silences do not go unchallenged. By being in place, we are able to identify instances of resistance and reflect upon what possible agency and change this may generate over time. In so doing, we are able to theorise the relation between gender, silence and place.