A Divided Townscape? Ethnic Segregation in Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Mostar Case

Zsolt Bottlik


In recent decades, Bosnia-Herzegovina has several times occupied the centre of interest for those watching events in European and global politics. This country is characterized by many specific features, which make it unique not only among the ex-Yugoslavian states, but in Central and Southeast Europe as well. The level of ethnic heterogeneity in this country is among the highest in Europe. The process of transformation after the fall of the communist regime in the 1990s, which was a common feature in the region, was also unique, as it ended in long-lasting bloodshed. After the Dayton accord, Bosnian ethnic communities became more and more isolated and instead of cooperating in building a common homeland they rather reinforced their foreign relationships. Serbs and Croatians turned towards their neighbouring Fatherlands, while the Bosnian Muslims have sought connections with the Islamic world. The ethnic diversity of Bosnia-Herzegovina – with its 51 thousand square kilometres framed by the high mountain chains of the Dinarides, dissected by rivers and polje-basins between them – is very similar to the Yugoslavia from which it seceded in 1992. Like its predecessor, the country only exists owing to the will of powers and not because of natural centripetal forces, as it consists of two entities with hardly any economic or political relations between them, a reality from which arises  the question of the maintenance of the state. Ethnic segregation – which was intensified by the events after 1992 – is observable in many towns, creating parallelisms not only in the structure of state administration, but in the usage of symbols, and of urban spaces. This study aims at investigating the roots of these differences and explaining the present, everyday conflicts between the different denominations and cultural groups from the perspective of ethnic geography and based on a case study of the town of Mostar.

Klíčová slova

Bosnia and Herzegovina; ethnic segregation; urban geography; ethnic geography

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