Developed through a series of encounters with a Bosnian Serb soldier Stojan Sokolović, this book is a meditation on the possibilities and limitations of responding to the extreme violence of the Bosnian war. It explores the ethics of confronting the war criminal and investigates the possibility of responsibility not just to victims of war and war crimes, but also to the perpetrators of violence. The book explains how Stojan Sokolović attenuated the author to the fact that he was responsible, to everyone, all the time, and for everything. It exposes the complexity of the categories of good and evil. Silence is also the herald of violence, or its co-conspirator. The author and Stojan Sokolović were trapped in violence, discursive and material, and discursive that leads to material, and material that emanates from and leads back to discursive. Two years after beginning his research into identity and the politics of conflict in Bosnia and Kosovo, the author got the opportunity to visit the region presented itself. According to the vast majority of the literature of the 1990s on Bosnia, it was clear that the biggest problem with nationalist violence and intolerance was to be found in Republika Srpska. The book is the author's discourse on a variety of experiences, including those of ethics, politics, disasters, technologies, fieldwork, adventure tourism, and dilemmas.
The retreat of the Serbian army and civilians in 1915–16
. Furthermore, in
September and October 1913 large-scale fighting erupted at the SerbAlbanian demarcation line when armed groups from Albania attacked the
Serbs, in some cases with the assistance of the local Albanian population.
Serbian troops succeeded in re-establishing control by means of harsh
repression.10 It is hardly surprising that two years later fears resurfaced that
Serbian authority over Kosovo and Macedonia would again be challenged.
In early November 1915, around 300,000 Serbiansoldiers and between
50,000 and 60,000 refugees gathered in Kosovo. This
the great retreat and gave Flora Sandes a vocation in the Serbian army.
It drove Elsie Inglis to accompany her Serbiansoldiers to Russia when
she already knew she was suffering from cancer, and then to refuse to
leave without them as revolution engulfed the state.
After her service in Russia was cut short by revolution, Ellie Rendel
was determined to finish the war with the SWH. She arrived in Serbia
in October 1918 as the end of the war drew closer. She noted in a
It was a very interesting drive [to the Front]. The German and Bulgarian
civilian refugees accompanied the
soldiers. They brought with them another unwelcome guest: typhus.
In early 1916 those suffering from typhus were moved to the island
of Vido. Duson T. Batakovic states that ‘At least 7,000 Serbiansoldiers died in Vido, of whom the majority were buried in the Ionian Sea
which later became known among Serbs as a “blue tomb”.’17 SWH
doctor Mary McNeil, visiting Corfu after the war, noted that 20,000
Serbs were buried there.18 There was an urgent need to get the Serbian
army back into the field. While some were slowly moved to Salonika in
sense of fear. The Serbiansoldiers are portrayed as a set of amiable roughnecks, and Sandes’s writing sanitises the realities of war.
Eventually, Sandes enlisted as a soldier in the Serbian army and rose
to the rank of sergeant. Upon returning home to England, she found
it almost impossible to tolerate wearing women’s clothes and assimilated only with difficulty back into civilian life.42 And yet an unconscious – and entirely instinctive – sense of herself as a woman who
ought to be protected comes through in her writing.
Another woman who projected a heroic
part of the artistic foundation upon which Serbian nationalistic culture was built. The best
known of these poems, ‘The Downfall of the Serbian Empire’, by the
nineteenth-century poet Vuk Karadzic (1787–1864), which tells of
Lazar’s fateful choice, was still being recited by the Serbiansoldiers of
Mabel St Clair Stobart’s flying column in 1915, and by West’s Serbian
guides in 1937. It tells the story that the prophet Elijah visited Lazar
on the day of the battle, in the form of a grey hawk, the same grey
falcon of West’s title. Elijah offers Lazar a choice.
camp. After a quick cut to the corridor outside and the Serbsoldiers
idling, we cut back to see Vidal sitting alone. There is no plastic bag
but he is struggling to breathe as if there were one, panicking, hitting
out at the air. He begins to fling himself at his prison walls until one
gives way in an unlikely fashion and sets him free. By immersing
himself in the Kosovan continuum of violence, then, Vidal becomes
victim as well as perpetrator, and hard to distinguish from the people
he is there to protect. Vidal comes to
in search of them. She ends up in
a maternity ward where she spends the night, holding a sick baby who, as we soon learn, has
been abandoned by its Croatian mother since it was the result of a rape by Serbiansoldiers.
The most striking element though is the direct allusion to mothers as
Madonnas. This is not new in Serreau’s films as she has often used discreet references to
paintings of Madonna-like figures, sometimes subverting them through a subtle gender reversal.
Thus the opening sequence in Trois hommes et un
Stobart knows they will escape and she believes she knows why.
Stobart believes it is because of these women, who go about their everyday business so serenely in the face of the enemy guns, because they
will continue to do so for the next two months, carrying with them the
Serbiansoldiers attached to the unit, ensuring that they are the only
British women of the Eastern Front
military column in the retreat who do not lose a single man to death
or desertion. Stobart believes that these women bring alternative skills
to the front line, by playing out the roles
expected that such conventional
models would hold little appeal, and would consequentially be of
minimal relevance in 1914. Yet the cultural prejudices that commonly underpinned ideas of the Union sacrée or Burgfriedenspolitik
were widely shared by anarchists on both sides of the interventionist debate. Anarchists including Kropotkin readily adopted the kind
of idioms that were regularly exploited in war propaganda to, for
example, laud Belgian troops equipped with ‘the doggedness of the
English type’ or depict the Serbsoldier as a ‘hero, a born fighter,