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By : Dijana Alic

On 6 April 1992, the European Union (EU) recognised Bosnia and Hercegovina as a new independent state, no longer a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The event marked the start of the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted nearly four years, until late February 1996. It became the longest siege in the history of modern warfare, outlasting the Leningrad enclosure by a year. During its 1425 days, more than 11,500 people were killed. The attacks left a trail of destruction across the city, which began to transform it in ways not experienced before.

This paper explores how the physical transformation of Sarajevo affected the ways in which meaning and significance were assigned to its built fabric. I argue that the changes imposed by war and the daily destruction of the city challenged long-established relationships between the built fabric and those who inhabited the city, introducing new modes of thinking and interpreting the city. Loosely placing the discussion within the framework of ‘Thirdspace’, established by urban theorist and cultural geographer Edward Soja, I discuss the relationship that emerged between the historicality, sociality and spatiality of war-torn Sarajevo.

Whether responding to the impacts of physical destruction or dramatic social change, the nexus of time, space and being shows that the concept of spatiality is essential to comprehending the world and to adjusting to and resisting the impact of extraordinary circumstances. Recognising the continuation of daily life as essential to survival sheds light on processes of renewal and change in a war-affected landscape. These shattered urban spaces also show the ways in which people make a sense of place in relation to specific socio-historical environments and political contexts.  

Keywords: Sarajevo, bieseged-city, Thirdspace, Urbicide,

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