Did Ethnic Cleansing Succeed?

Gerard Toal and Carl T. Dahlman

in Bosnia Remade

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730360
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895250 | DOI:
Did Ethnic Cleansing Succeed?

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This chapter reflects on the legacies of the double effort to remake Bosnia-Herzegovina since 1990 and outlines a qualified answer to the question of whether ethnic cleansing succeeded or not. Perhaps the most appropriate answer to whether ethnic cleansing has succeeded in Bosnia is that it is too early to tell. If Bosnia-Herzegovina is allowed to break apart by its neighbors, the European Union, and other major powers, we can say that ethnic cleansing has succeeded. But ethnic homogeneity—a condition often overstated and superficially claimed for states that are more heterogeneous than imagined—is no formula for stability. Certainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, any independence for Republika Srpska (with the border drawn “on ethnic lines”) is likely to result in a new war. Bosnia-Herzegovina is still in the process of being made, its form an evolving one. While there are certainly grounds for being pessimistic about its future given its current ethnoterritorial arrangement, institutional burdens, and polarized politics, there is also some recognition among most of its divided political class that they are stuck together.

Keywords: Bosnia-Herzegovina; ethnic cleansing; ethnic homogeneity; political class; ethnoterritory

Chapter.  11704 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union

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