Through the prism of conceptual comparisons between mother-survivors of rapes and mother-survivors of gendercide in Srebrenica, this paper argues how representations of those groups have helped to perpetuate the stigma of rape by creating limited cultural memory narratives of socially desirable features of traditional and patriarchal ideals of motherhood/mothering. Motherhood of war-rape survivors has in previous studies been debated in the frame of wider politics of nationalism and gender, which overshadowed the great diversity among women’s experiences of motherhood: of mothers who had children before they were raped; those who bore children from war rapes; and those who gave birth after being raped in war, during the war or afterwards. All these aspects of motherhood and sexuality that define individual women in very different ways, both personally and socially, have been rather poorly addressed. The author places excerpts from the conversations and interviews conducted in different areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to support the thesis of polarized motherhood representations, tragic comfort-discomfort on the one hand and undisclosed motherhood on the other. They show the importance of further investigation of the social dynamics that alongside the politics of gender and nationalism also define war-rape survivors’ mothers’ lives.

About the author

Nena Močnik is a postdoctoral researcher at Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Turku, Finland. Her book entitled Sexuality after War Rape: From Narrative to Embodied Research (Routledge 2017) was awarded Bank of Montreal Award in Women’s Studies (University of Ottawa, 2018). She received of several fellowships, including EnTe Fellowship (New Europe College, Bucharest, 2016–2017), ICNC-Fletcher Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict (Tufts University, 2016) Brown International Advanced Research Institute Fellowship (Brown University, 2015) and Fulbright Visiting Scholar Fellowship (University of Southern California, 2014). She is the author of several human rights related forum theatre performances, as well as of the monodrama Canned. She has delivered workshops and trainings in the field of social justice and anti-discrimination, using mostly approaches from community theatre and applied drama. In 2018, she was invited as the external expert at EUROCLIO – European Association of History Educators, developing experiential and embodied pedagogical practices in history teaching. With the financial support of European Commission – European Remembrance programme, and 7 university and NGO partners, she initiated and leads the project “Again Never Again: Teaching Transmission of Trauma and Remembrance through Experiential Learning”.