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    Posted June 28, 2014 by
    Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    SARAJEVO 1914-2014: 1 City - 3 Wars - 1 Olympics = 1 Lesson

    SARAJEVO 1914-2014: 1 City – 3 Wars – 1 Olympics = 1 Lesson When a ‘wrong-turn’ transforms an ordinary street Corner, into a geo-strategic Corner! The shots fired in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 by the Bosnian Serb student Gavrilo Princip at the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (the future successor to the Habsburg throne) and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, may have been at short-range, but their effects have had long-range consequences for the rest of the world. Even though the causes of the World War I remain disputed until present day; Sarajevo [Assassination] is perceived as historic precedent - an event that ‘triggered’ the Great War. But Sarajevo story did not begin, or end, then and there. After all, this is the city that had 3 Wars and 1 Olympics in a single century. For its size and relevance within the geopolitical matrix, one would not expect Sarajevo to re-emerge on the international scene at the magnitude as it did back in 1914. But it did. In 1984 the city hosted highly successful XIV Olympic Winter Games, and in 1992 Sarajevo became a global phenomenon for 1,395 days - as it endured and defied the longest Siege in the modern history of mankind. In 2014, the city finds itself at the crossroads of international media and public attention as the world marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. This unique alignment of time and space demonstrates what happens when the causes of WWI meet the consequences of the city’s most recent past – the Siege! Historical anniversaries are powerful reminder of our duty to learn from the past mistakes, and to preserve the integrity of the events from political manipulations. As such, one should not miss the opportunity to reflect on two World Wars from the perspective of Sarajevo’s most recent history. After all, the beginning (1914-1918), and the end (1992-1996) of the twentieth century were marked by the events that culminated in Sarajevo. Therefore, it would be misguided, and counterproductive to reflect on historic events whilst ignoring their contemporary setting. Only when these two converge, we can truly advance the Culture of Remembrance of our collective past. A multitude of articles, essays, academic papers, editorials and books have been published in reference to the Centenary, the Great War and Sarajevo Assassination. They all express different views and opinions, and it is rather disheartening to conclude that even after 100 years we are unable to find any common ground. Rather than arguing the origins of the war, or disputing its consequences, we should focus on the city itself - Sarajevo is a unique city in the sense: o that it had 3 Wars and 1 Olympics in one century. o that it shaped the beginning (triggering WWI) and the end of the 20th century (longest siege in modern history of mankind). o that it has 1 important lesson for the rest of the world: “What happens in Sarajevo, it does NOT stay in Sarajevo!” What happens when the culture of remembrance meets geo-politics on one ordinary street corner in Sarajevo between 1914 and 2014? The sheer scope and scale of changes to the corner, where the Assassination actually took place, are intriguing. In past 100 years this site has been commemorated in different ways by various occupying forces and governments – each trying to re-assert their own version of the events, and its overall significance on the culture of remembrance. As one proceeds along the historic-continuum, it starts off with the ground-zero event (28 June 1914), and continues to reflect on 7 distinct time-frames, and geo-political constellations whose rise and demise have influenced the style and form of those alterations. Each time a new intervention was formulated and applied, it was done in hope that the legacy of the previous one will be erased, and that the doctrine of the new one will be upheld indefinitely. The corner itself is a rather hectic place, always busy with people and cars trying to outmanoeuvre each other, oblivious to the fact that they are trespassing through history. Few tourists would usually gather around the actual spot, trying to focus on time and space that surrounds them, although those moments of reflections are usually sharply interrupted by the vibrations from a passing tram. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that such a small and narrow space could hold such immense historic significance for such a long time. Then again, it was the small footsteps of Gavrilo Princip that have left such a colossal footprint on the city, the Balkans and Europe. Perhaps the corner was destined for great things due to its rather unique location in the city. It is literally where East meets the West at the heart of Europe, both symbolically and architecturally. That patchwork of different cultural, ethnic, historic and religious symbols is what makes Sarajevo such a unique place, so it’s not surprising that it’s often described as European Jerusalem. In this city life is Western for the East and Oriental for the West. It is simply the life of Sarajevo. So how does one contextualise and communicate all the complexities of this 100-year legacy in a single and visually interactive format for the benefit of an eclectic and global audience? In the process of mapping-out facts and evidences, the experience was both, personal and professional. On one hand, for someone who was born in that city, it was an opportunity to reflect on my own identity; and on the other hand, it was the intellectual curiosity fuelled by my doctoral thesis at the London School of Economics that prompted me to explore how we can successfully communicate a complex topic to a diverse international audience in a single format. Since 1996 I have worked diligently on collecting facts and evidences pertaining to the Siege of Sarajevo phenomenon and the Fall of Yugoslavia in what now constitutes a FAMA Collection (www.famacollection.org) – which includes a widely recognized Survival Map 92-96 and the Fall of Yugoslavia 1991-1999 map projects. Even though we have used digital tools to transcend our mapping methodology, we have opted for a print format – a ‘human-touch’ experience. In an age of Web 2.0 such serious, interesting and educational topic such is Sarajevo 1914-2014 deserves our Analogue-Attention. By Miran Norderland (28 June 2014) SARAJEVO 1914-2014: 1 City – 3 Wars – 1 Olympics = 1 Lesson is published by R2.1 (www.resilience21.com).
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