Cannibal states, empty bellies: Protest, history and political imagination in post-Dayton Bosnia

Larisa Kurtović, Azra Hromadžić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


In February 2014, Bosnia-Herzegovina witnessed its largest and most dramatic wave of civic protests since the end of the 1992–1995 war and the signing of Dayton Peace Accords. Confrontations with the police and the destruction of dozens of government buildings subsequently gave way to the formation of plenums – town hall assemblies – where protesters collectively articulated their grievances against the country's corrupt and deeply unpopular political authorities. The plenums emphasized Bosnia's pressing problems of widespread unemployment, rising poverty and corruption, and in so doing sidelined the ossified nationalist rhetoric and identity politics. This article analyzes the main representations of protests, and the sociopolitical and economic pressures that helped usher in this massive public uprising. We demonstrate how protesters sought to break out of the impasses of post-Dayton ethnic politics by actively recuperating and representing alternative visions of participatory politics and popular sovereignty associated with socialist-era imaginaries and embodied in the plenum. We argue that these efforts signal the emergence of a new kind of prefigurative politics that provide alternative practices of political organization, decision-making, and sociability in Bosnia and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-296
Number of pages35
JournalCritique of Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Bosnian 2014 uprising
  • Dayton Peace Agreement
  • ethnonationalism
  • plenums
  • postsocialism
  • prefigurative politics
  • protest politics
  • social movements
  • unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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