Fear, Memory, and Mobilization: Croatian Serbs & the Serbian Democratic Party

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Room 1219 International Affairs Building

Please join the Harriman institute for a talk by John Schiemann

Associate Professor of Political Science Director, Florham Laboratory for Experimental Social Science (FLESS)
Chair, Department of Social Sciences & History Fairleigh Dickinson University

Why did many – but not all – Croatian Serbs mobilize politically then militarily from 1990 to 1992? What accounts for the variation in Serb political mobilization across time and Croatian territory? Neither the dominant general approaches to ethno-nationalist mobilization nor the competing Croatian and Serbian narratives can account for this sub-national variation. I argue that the combination of HDZ policies and fearful memories of WWII Ustaša atrocities explains the temporal and spatial variation in Serb mobilization. I test this hypothesis and its competitors on an original dataset of Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) membership lists and application cards, as well as SDS meeting minutes, notes, draft speeches and other materials. These tests generally support the historical memory argument, suggesting the need for greater attention to sub-national variation in ethnic mobilization and conflict.

John Schiemann is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is the author of The Politics ofPact-Making: Hungary’s Negotiated Transition to Democracy in Comparative Perspective (Palgrave, 2005), journal articles inAmerican Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, and the Journal of Politics, as well as several book chapters on the Hungarian electoral system. He is currently working on two projects, one on interrogational torture and one on ethnic mobilization by Croatian Serbs.