Tackling Trauma Through a Museum: The War Childhood Museum in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

Please join the East Central European Center, the Harriman Institute, the Columbia Department of History, and the History in Action program for a talk with Jasminko HalilovićFounder and Executive Director of the War Childhood Museum.

How do you create a museum? Two years ago, young Bosnian author Jasminko Halilović and a small team of collaborators set out to establish an institution that would commemorate growing up during the country's brutal war in the early 1990s. The resulting War Childhood Museum has since faced down local political obstructionism while drawing significant grassroots support and media attention from London to Tokyo. This lecture covers its development from an early idea through a crowd-sourced book project and ultimately to a permanent exhibit in Sarajevo's city center.

In a country with staggering youth unemployment and an ongoing brain drain, the War Childhood Museum gives voice to the formative experiences of a generation marginalized by the country's post-war political economy. Just as importantly, it provides Bosnians of all ages a rare opportunity to confront the traumas of their recent past without reinforcing ethnic boundaries. Highlighting some of the pressing socio-cultural issues in contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina, Halilović's project also speaks to such broader topics as child development, social entrepreneurship, and historical memory in post-conflict societies.