Constructing “Ideal Victim” Stories of Bosnian War Survivors

  • Basic G
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In this analysis of the retold experiences of 27 survivors of the war in northwestern Bosnia, the aim is to describe the informants’ portrayal of “war violence”, “victimhood”, and “reconciliation” as a social phenomenon as well as analyzing the discursive patterns that contribute to constructing the category “victim” and “perpetrator”. The violence practice during the war is portrayed as organized and ritualized and this creates a picture that the violence practice became a norm in the society, rather than the exception. When, after the war, different categories claim a “victim” status, it sparks a competition for victimhood. All informants are eager to present themselves as victims while at the same time the other categories’ victim status are downplayed. The stories of reconciliation are connected to the past; the interactive consequences of war-time violence are intimately linked to the narrator’s war experiences. The interviewees distance themselves from some individuals or described situations. It is common that the portrayal of possible reconciliation is transformed into a depicted implacable attitude, thus the interviewees negotiate their stances: they articulate between reconciliation and implacability statements.




Basic, G. (2015). Constructing “Ideal Victim” Stories of Bosnian War Survivors. Social Inclusion, 3(4), 25.

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