Recent years have witnessed a growth in research addressing the ways in which policymakers, academics and the media characterized the Bosnian war of the 1990s using a variety of problematic discursive frames. However, there has been relatively little scholarship exploring how the conflict was often portrayed as a battle between innocent urban centres and an antagonistic countryside. This thesis uses a discourse analysis of Western and Bosnian textual material to argue that perceptions of the Bosnian war have been characterized by a discourse that attributes the violence to cleavages between urban Bosnians and their rural counterparts. Moreover, this thesis engages with post-colonial theory to demonstrate that this discourse of urban-rural cleavages, in which Western and Bosnian urban self-identity was constructed in opposition to the supposed atavism of the Bosnian countryside, is an advancement of Bakic-Hayden’s concept of “nesting Orientalisms.” The results of this thesis problematize a common representation of the conflict, expand the concept of nesting Orientalism and help us to understand why urban participation in the ideologies and violence of the Bosnian conflict has often gone unexamined.
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Thesis advisor: Checkel, Jeffrey
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