Essay about National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia

Essay about National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia

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David Campbell’s book National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia is concerned with the conflict in Bosnia, and how constructions of identity affected the reporting and resolution of conflict.
The idea of National Deconstruction here not only refers to the deconstruction of Yugoslavia as a state, but primarily to deconstruction: the philosophical school of thought, originally described by Derrida. Campbell applies deconstruction to identity politics, whereby thinking in this way is to see identity as being ‘the effect of a contingent set of relations’ [20]. This school of thought places identity and difference, the sense of ‘other’ at the centre of its understanding, where ‘claims about secure identities, traditionally authorised grounds, and the political necessities said to flow them are met with critical scepticism’ [23]. While this theory does involve constructivist thinking about identity: that it is socially constructed, Campbell distinguishes between the two. He states that ‘to argue for the centrality of the performative constitution of identity is different from maintaining that some form of constructivism... needs to be accounted for’ [24]. The key difference relates to deconstruction placing emphasis on construction being a conscious choice of the agent [25].
Campbell asserts that an ‘ethos of political criticism’ [5] is required: an examination not of what the Bosnian identity means, or why it is that way, but rather how it is. What Campbell is concerned with is not the origins of Bosnian identity, but how the construction of this identity has effected representations of the conflict, and the results of this in a political context. He states “rather than assuming a pregiven, externally existing...

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...s for a multi-ethnic state solution, while explaining how that could be possible, through his ethos of democracy discourse [201-207].
Campbell’s work National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia is effective in bringing to the readers’ attention a different way of thinking about violence and identity in Bosnia. However, a few flaws in his methodology have been noted. Furthermore, while the possibility of a multi-ethnic solution is an interesting one, and deserves further academic discourse, the reality may not match up to his thinking, for example other issues in the former Yugoslavia, including the Kosovan separatist movement, could be seen to cast doubt on the effectiveness of large multi-ethnic states with pockets of different ethnic majorities.

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David Campbell National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia

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