Collective trauma: the societal diagnosis of a Bosnian author


“I felt that my identity had betrayed me”

Kalamujic was born into an ethically mixed family, her father being Bosnian and her mother Serbian.

“Before the war my mother and her family had always declared themselves Yugoslavian, so it was only on the eve of the war that I realized they were Serbs,” she said.

Her mother died when she was two, so she doesn’t remember her at all. When war broke out in Sarajevo in April 1992, Kalamujic was 12 years old and lived in the Vratnik neighborhood in the old part of town. At the start of the war, Vratnik was subjected to heavy bombardment, along with her father and family, so they decided that it would be better for her to move in with her mother’s parents, who were living at the time. in the district of Grbavica.

She felt like she was going to her grandparents’ house for a long weekend with a small business bag. At the time, everyone thought the violence was going to stop soon, she said, even though a cousin told her: “It won’t end until Thursday.”

She left Sarajevo the following month and spent two years in Sid in Serbia before returning to the Bosnian capital shortly before turning 14. what was really going on, ”she said.

But the way she was raised by her family had a lasting impact: “They raised me in the spirit of the 1980s and Yugoslavia, and suddenly this state no longer existed”, she explained.

“I got the feeling later that I was angry, because they taught me and raised me in this environment, and look how it ended. I felt like my identity had betrayed me.

Kalamujic believes war is an inevitable problem for the generation of writers who have lived through it.

“I have the feeling that our generation, which has personally experienced this, simply find it impossible to avoid this subject. It is probably a great collective trauma that we have experienced in this region and unfortunately the atmosphere continues to exist through daily politics and several decades of inflammatory rhetoric, ”she said.

She also said that she believed that “as a society we have never really faced [the war] and I moved forward after all the things that happened to us ”.

She explained that she viewed writing as a healing process on her own.

“It took me years to realize that, probably because I had lost my mother when I was little, my family found it very hard to see me so sad and simply because of their longing to keep me good. moody and healthy, I never learned how to grieve, ”she explained.

“So writing became a channel through which I deal with all the things that happened to me, through literature. “

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