Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Professor Lida Maxwell


Post-conflict societies inhabit a prolonged identity crisis. This crisis defines the scenario in present day Bosnia and Herzegovina, where ethno-centric narratives embody the consciousness of the Bosniak, Croat, and Serb populations, inhibiting the prevalence of an overarching national identity.

In this thesis, I contend that realizing a national identity, as defined by Benedict Anderson, is crucial to the reconciliation of a post-conflict country such as Bosnia. In light of the limitations of parliamentary structures (such as those defined by Bosnia’s Dayton Agreement) within a society affected by mass atrocity, I argue that art institutions are capable of negotiating the question of a national identity. Focusing on Bosnia, I have examined the nation’s representation in the Venice Biennale, the phenomenological significance of the Sarajevo Film Festival, and finally, the function of museums and public art within the nation. This has revealed how art institutions can address the past in order to memorialize and revisit significant events to realize a collective history, act as a soft body power, create new traditions and narratives, and act as a means for society to realize the distinctness of the nation.

My research concludes that art institutions can certainly fulfill long-term and symbolic functions that governmental or legal bodies fail to effectively address, despite their limitations in regards to outreach, access, and the dubious assumption about the effects that they can have on a post-conflict society. This ultimately reiterates the importance of art to the political imagination, not just in Bosnia, but also in other


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.