Youth Citizenship in Divided Societies

Voluntarism: familiar yet estranged

'...Look how much effort everybody is putting in developing voluntary work among young people! [today] We are adopting a Law on Voluntarism, while some time ago people used to build railways totally voluntarily...'.

A young female director of one of the Sarajevo based NGOs

One among many insights that come to my mind while doing research in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is how concepts, activities, values and ideas which once – not that long ago – were quite familiar, have now become estranged. For the purpose of this blog entry I am thinking in particular about voluntarism.

The Fog of Memory

In Lebanon, as in other societies with deep divisions, there is a great deal of disagreement about what role memory can play and how it can play those roles in overcoming division. Questions about 'whose memories?' abound, as do debates over the ways and settings in which memory should be discussed. In our interviews with leaders of NGOs that we have conducted as part of the YouCitizen project, we have sensed a growing conviction amongst some that it is necessary to confront the past if there is to be any possibility of moving beyond division.

Getting beyond déjà vu

The results of the recent elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina have had a familiar ring to many. Nearly twenty years on from the Dayton Agreement, the results of the October ballot reasserted the electoral strength of the main nationalist parties, the very same parties (and in some cases individuals) that emerged in 1995 to lead BiH through twenty years of political stagnation and declining living standards.

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