This presentation focuses on how post-war transitions influenced the social and family life of war widows in Croatia. Following the theoretical framework of memory studies while applying the oral history methodological approach, this research sheds light on both external/social and internal/intimate struggles and challenges of war widows. It is based on the presentation and interpretation of data collected by the method of semi-structured interviews, analysing periods before, during and after the 1991–1995 wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This work builds as a comparative study of regions that had two diverse roles during the war: While towns like Vukovar, Sisak or Dubrovnik were under heavy attacks and/or the in immediate vicinity of the pro-Serb para-state Republic of Serbian Krajina, other locations, e.g., Zagreb or Rijeka, were not directly exposed to the conflict, but nevertheless hosted a large number of refugees. Here, widows are understood as “memory entrepreneurs” who have particular agency. Therefore, they are represented as knowledge and narratives producers. The first part of the study is reserved for an analysis of the circumstances of the loss of their husbands and the widows’ and children’s grieving process. Secondly, widows’ negotiation of family roles, social capital and influence is of particular interest. Moreover, the figure of a widow is compared to that of a mother. In order to collect data on the social inclusion of the children of killed Croatian war veterans, an analysis of friendships and connections in general within the social network(s) is performed.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ana Ljubojević is a Research Associate at the University of Ljubljana within EIRENE project and a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies (CSEES), University of Graz, Austria. Previously, she was a EURIAS postdoctoral fellow at the Polish Institute of Advanced Studies (PIAST) in Warsaw and a NEWFELPRO postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity, Citizenship and Migration (CEDIM), Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, Croatia. She obtained her PhD in Political Systems and Institutional Change at the Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy. She has conducted research on non-judicial mechanisms of transitional justice in Croatia and Serbia and has research interests in memory studies, cultural trauma and social production of memory.
Jelena Seferović has been employed at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb since 2021. From 2018 to 2020, she participated in the EIRENE’s ERC Advanced Grant project Post-war Transitions in Gendered Perspective: The Case of the North-Eastern Adriatic Region. She obtained her PhD in 2017 from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology with a thesis entitled “Constructions of Gender Identity among Female Residents in Homes for Adults with Mental Illness”. In 2007, she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Within the scope of her scientific research work she deals with the history of disability in the territory of former Yugoslavia from the end of the 19th century to the 1990s. This includes research of institutionalization and daily life outside of institutions of people with mental disorders, intellectual and sensory disabilities. Dr Seferović is also interested in researching the history of members of other vulnerable groups, such as women involved in prostitution and war orphans.