Thursday, June 26, 2008

Said, Trumpbour, and others on Huntington and Lewis

In order to take the time to do justice to the arguments gathered against the Huntington/Lewis "Clash of Civilizations" thesis in the volume The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy edited by Emran Qureshi and Michael A. Sells, I would first need to spend a considerable amount of time considering the questionable thesis that Huntington and others have laid out. While that might take me quite far afield from Bosnia, I don't think it would be at all irrevelant to some of the larger topics this blog hopefully touches on from time to time.

Much of the debate on the Balkan wars was framed in just such false dialectics--indeed, Huntington's book was publicly embraced by Franjo Tudjman and at least some Serbian nationalists. In the hands of such theorists seeking to fit events into predetermined grand narratives, the Bosnian war was removed entirely from its specific, local context (which was, more often than not, distorted beyond recognition at any rate through the lens of "ancient hatreds") and interpreted purely as yet another enactment of a largner, ongoing 'struggle' or 'clash.' Reductive theorists like Huntington allow Western elites to justify a dispassionate, removed approach to atrocity situations because the tragic particulars of a genocide in Bosnia or Rwanda or Sudan, while painful to watch, are little more than the inevitable symptoms of a global conflict. And Huntington and his ilk tend to regard the victims of Bosnia, for example, as being on the 'wrong side' of that greater war.

If I someday find the time, I will most certainly consider a more extended consideration of, at the very least, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Huntington. In the meantime, it was important to acknowledge the larger debate Qureshi and Sells' book represents before going on to review to the two or three essays which are more explicitly concerned with Bosnia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Politely put, the notion of "ancient hatreds" in Bosnia is a lie. Even today, you can go to any region in Bosnia, and I'll bet my money you will find different ethnic groups still interacting with each other in a friendly fashion. What happened to Bosnia was a result of politics coming from Belgrade, and not a result of ordinary Serbs and Bosniaks wanting to fight each other.