Microdynamics Analysis Essay

3.1 Simulation procedure

We conducted numerical simulations on the model developed in Section 2. The simulation setting is summarized as follows:
  • the country specification contains 13 sectors, corresponding to the 13 sectors in the I–O SDA carried out in Savona and Lorentz (2005) and reported for convenience in Table 1 in the Appendix;

  • each of the sectors includes 20 firms;

  • the results presented are the average outcome of a minimum of 50 replications of the simulation setting;

  • each simulation runs over 500 steps.

In order to reduce the spectrum of parameters to be analyzed, we set the initial structure of the economy on the basis of the data used in Savona and Lorentz (2005), focusing on the German case. The simulations are carried out on the basis of the actual OECD I–O tables (1978–1995) and OECD STAN (1970–1999), at the first time–step, for the following variables and parameters:
  • Sectoral intermediate I–O coefficients (aj,k,t). The intermediate coefficients are drawn from the German I–O table for 1978 (Table 2 in the Appendix).

  • Sectoral exports (Xj,t). These figures are drawn from the I–O table for Germany 1978 (Table 3 in the Appendix).

  • Sectoral shares of final consumption (cj,t). These are computed as the ratio of sector consumption and total consumption using the 1978 German I–O table (Table 3 in the Appendix).

  • Sectoral shares of import (mj,t). These are computed as the ratio of sectoral foreign demand and total demand (final and intermediate), once again using the 1978 German I–O table (Table 3 in the Appendix).

  • Sectoral Kaldor–Verdoorn parameters (βj and λj). These figures are estimated using the OECD STAN (1970–1999) data (Table 37).

We identify three stylized scenarios based on different parameter settings, and analyze the occurrence of structural change on the basis of each of these scenarios in the case of the simulation specification illustrated above. The scenarios are detailed in Section 3.2. It is useful to bear in mind that the objective is not to carry out a proper calibration exercise, as we do not aim to reproduce the trend observed in the data. Rather, we want to investigate whether the results that emerge from the various simulation scenarios are plausible with respect to the empirical evidence in Section 1.

We quantify the occurrence of structural change in terms of two different dimensions:
  1. 1.

    the degree of concentration, in income (nominal product), real output and employment, measured using an inverse Herfindahl index. This index is intended to measure the unevenness of labor and resource allocations among sectors, as well as changes in the latter;

  2. 2.

    the sectoral composition of the economy, in terms of real output and employment. This dimension allows us to analyze the nature of the changes in the structure of the economy generated by the various scenarios.

3.2 Simulation scenarios

Three main scenarios driving structural change are identified, based on changes in intermediate demand. Each of these scenarios corresponds to a specific setting for a number of key parameters. They are described as follows.
  1. 1.
    The “Baumol’s disease” scenario: The structural changes in both the em ployment and output composition of the economy are driven by the pro ductivity growth differentials among sectors. This scenario emerges as a result of cross-sector differences in the Kaldor–Verdoorn parameters, holding final and intermediate demand constant. These differences lead to higher shares of employment in the sectors with lowest productivity growth, and affect the structure of the economy through wage and price dynamics. Structural change based on this scenario emerges if productivity growth differences are not perfectly absorbed by wages, i.e. when the wage setting is centralized. The parameters are set as follows:
    1. (a)

      the changes in intermediate coefficients are neutralized (σ = 0);

    2. (b)

      wages are centralized (ν = 1);

    3. (c)

      the selection mechanism occurs (ϕ = 1);

    4. (d)

      the structure of final demand remains constant (All cj,t = cj).

  2. 2.
    The “Schumpeterian” scenario:8 Structural change is exclusively driven by firms’ reactions to technological shocks. The differences in productivity growth rates are neutralized by decentralized wages. The diffusion of the shocks to the economy relies only on the selection mechanism occurring at sectoral level. Structural change is therefore due only to the characteristics of the stochastic processes underlying the changes in the intermediate coefficients and the selection mechanism. The parameters are set as follows:
    1. (a)

      the changes in intermediate coefficient occur (σ ≠ 0);

    2. (b)

      wages neutralize the differences in sectoral productivity growth rate (ν = 0);

    3. (c)

      the selection mechanism occurs (ϕ = 1);

    4. (d)

      the structure of final demand remains constant (All cj,t = cj);

  3. 3.
    The “Cost reduction” scenario: Structural change is triggered by both the reaction to technological shocks by firms and the differences in productivity growth rates among sectors. Centralized wage–setting allows these differences to affect both wages and prices and, therefore, production costs. Technological shocks are adopted when they affect production costs. Adoption is therefore biased towards the most productive sectors. In combination with the selection mechanisms, this bias should amplify the effects on structural change as emerge in the “Baumol’s disease” scenario. In this case the parameters are set as follows:
    1. (a)

      the changes in intermediate coefficient occur (σ ≠ 0);

    2. (b)

      wages are centralized (ν = 1);

    3. (c)

      the selection mechanisms occur (ϕ = 1);

    4. (d)

      the structure of final demand remains constant (All cj,t = cj).

The scenarios rely on a limited number of parameter changes. Modifying the values for σ and ν allows us to consider three different sets of causalities leading to changes in the structure of intermediate demand, i.e. supply– and intermediate demand–led structural changes.

3.3 The case of Germany

The empirical evidence for Germany, as per Savona and Lorentz (2005), shows an increase in the degree of concentration of output between 1978 and 1995. In other words, aggregate output has been growing, but in a small number of sectors.

Figures 1 to 3, respectively, present the degree of concentration for income, employment and real output. The figures were obtained for various specifications of the parameters σ and ν, in such a way that they emerge as the effects of the dynamics consequent on the three different scenarios. In particular:
  • keeping σ null and moving along the y-axis corresponds to the emergence of a “Baumol’s disease” type of dynamics;

  • keeping ν null and moving along the x-axis corresponds to a “Schumpeterian” type of structural change dynamics;

  • modifying simultaneously ν and σ generates a “Cost reduction” type of structural change.

As illustrated by Fig. 1, in the two extreme cases, the “Baumol’s disease” and the “Schumpeterian”, the dynamics lead to lower degrees of concentration in income with respect to the “Cost Reduction” or intermediate cases. A similar pattern emerges when considering the concentration in employment (see Fig. 2).

Figure 3 presents the concentration levels in terms of output, measured for the various specifications of parameters ν and σ. A dramatic difference is evident with respect to income and employment. As the wage dynamics tend to be more centralized, when keeping the probability of technological shocks to zero, the output concentration becomes higher. Economic activity is therefore more concentrated in the “Baumol’s disease” and the “Cost reduction” scenarios, while the dynamics considered in the “Schumpeterian” scenario lead to a lower level of concentration (higher dispersion).

In the course of the simulations of the “Baumol’s disease” case, the output tends, on average, to be concentrated in a small number of sectors. This tendency is amplified as wages tend to be more centralized. Similar patterns emerge for the “Cost reduction” case. In the “Schumpeterian” scenario, however, the structural changes generated by the simulations lead to lower concentration, or higher value of the inverse Herfindahl index.

The differences in the outcomes of the three scenarios are less obvious for employment. In all cases, in the course of the simulations, employment is concentrated in a smaller number of sectors. The employment dynamics are mainly driven by the productivity dynamics, which explains the similarities in these patterns. Small differences can, however, be observed: in the “Schumpeterian” case, the more frequent technological shocks slightly slow down the employment concentration. In the case of the “Baumol’s disease” scenario, and the “Cost reduction” scenario, a higher degree of wage centralization seems to slow down slightly the concentration process.

These findings can be explained as follows. In the “Baumol’s disease” case, structural change is driven only by the differences in productivity dynamics across sectors. As wages are centralized, these productivity differences directly affect the demand structure, via the relative prices and the employment structure. Sectors with higher (than average) productivity growth experience a decrease in prices over time and, therefore, an increase in market shares. This explains the growth in the degree of concentration of real output. The high productivity growth sectors increase their levels and shares of output, reducing their costs and prices. The low productivity growth sectors reduce their levels of output as they experience an increase in costs and prices. These two effects compensate for one another, explaining the low degree of concentration in the income structure. Similarly the losses/gains, in output are partially compensated for by the higher/lower, gains in labor productivity, implying a reduction/increase, in the sectoral shares of total employment. This would also account for the lower degree of concentration in the employment structure.

In the “Schumpeterian” case, wages are decentralized and therefore absorb completely the differences in productivity dynamics. The only source of structural change are the technological shocks occurring at the micro-level, which change the technological coefficients. The more frequent the shocks, the more frequent the changes in the structure of intermediate demand. However, the shocks follow similar patterns among sectors. As a consequence, technological shocks tend to reduce the sectoral differences in intermediate demand. Therefore, the more frequent the shocks, the lower the degree of concentration in output. As wages absorb the changes in labor productivity, price dynamics follow the changes in the technological coefficients. At the meso-level, this implies less concentration in output and in the income structure. The employment structure of the economy is a direct consequence of the differences in productivity dynamics among sectors, though this effect is slowed by the technological shocks.

In the “Cost reduction” scenario, structural change is simultaneously due to the differences in the productivity dynamics among sectors and to the technological shocks. In this case, as technological shocks diffuse among the sectors and in the economy, they tend to amplify the sectoral heterogeneity in intermediate demand due to the differences in productivity growth rates. The shocks are absorbed at the micro and meso levels through selection mechanisms, only if these reduce the production costs. The absorbed shocks are those favoring the most productive sectors. Hence, the productivity growth differences affect demand, via relative prices, but also through the cost reduction linked to the adoption of technological shocks. In line with the Kaldor–Verdoorn law, the sectors with higher demand growth experience higher productivity growth. The combination of these two mechanisms, therefore, reinforces the concentration dynamics in a small number of highly productive sectors.

Figures 4 to 9 present the evolution of the sectoral composition of the economy for each of the scenarios. This allows us to consider in more detail the nature of the structural changes occurring through the various scenarios.

In the “Baumol’s disease” case (Fig. 4), except for the SOCIAL sector, all the service sectors, and especially KIBS and TRADE, decline. Manufacturing activities, on the other hand, have an increased role in the economy. The manufacturing sectors (especially MACHINERY), together with the SOCIAL sector, experience the highest productivity growth while, as expected, these sectors experience a drastic drop in employment shares (Fig. 5). KIBS and TRADE are the two sectors that experience the highest increase in employment shares. The “Baumol’s disease” mechanism certainly explains the growth of employment in services. However, structural changes as generated in this scenario lead to a re-industrialization and a de-tertiarization of the economy in terms of output created. The mechanisms behind the “Baumol’s disease” scenario favor high productivity manufacturing activities, yet they are unable to account for the empirical evidence for the case of KIBS.

Similarly, structural changes in the “Cost reduction” scenario favor manufacturing activities (Fig. 6). The changes in the output structure are amplified with respect to the “Baumol’s disease” case. Again, the manufacturing branches benefit from the mechanisms underlying this scenario, due to the fact that these sectors are characterized by higher productivity growth rates. This result is directly linked to the fact that the dynamics implied in this scenario accelerate and amplify the effects triggered by productivity differences (as in the “Baumol disease” case) or by technological shocks.

In terms of employment, however, slight differences occur. For certain manufacturing activities (especially MACHINERY), the share of employment slightly increases (Fig. 7). The growth of output, therefore, over-compensates for the loss of employment potentially induced by the productivity dynamics.

In the “Schumpeterian” case, structural changes lead to a convergence in the output share of each sector (Fig. 8). This result is directly linked to the symmetry of the technological shocks among sectors. These latter follow the same distribution patterns across sectors.

The structure of employment shows the same trend as that in the “Baumol’s disease” case (Fig. 9). Employment is structured by the productivity differences, as in the above case. As wages are decentralized, the effect of the productivity differences is confined to the employment structure.

Figure 10 presents the evolution of the sectoral structure in Germany for the period 1978–1995. There is a clear tendency toward tertiarization with the rise of KIBS and SOCIAL shares and, more generally, a gain in importance of all the service sectors, accompanied by a relative decline in manufacturing activities.

This structure is the opposite to the one generated by the “Baumol’s disease” and the “Cost reduction” scenarios, which rely on the existence of productivity differences among sectors. The growth of services in Germany can hardly be completely imputed to productivity growth rate differentials. The simulated results for the various scenarios allow us to question seriously the “Baumol’s disease” explanation, at least for the period considered.

Moreover, the growth of services in Germany seems to have been complementary rather than detrimental to the growth in manufacturing sectors. Tertiarization processes in Germany have been driven by the combination of highly productive manufacturing sectors and asymmetric technological shocks. These shocks have favored the expansion of services following an increase in the inter–sectoral division of labor and an increase in intermediate demand for service activities.

On a day in 1962 near Višegrad, the town in eastern Bosnia that the Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić made famous in his novel The Bridge on the Drina (1945), a fight occurred in which one man killed another. While the dead man was a Muslim and his fellow combatant was a Serb, when the local communist authorities put the latter on trial for murder, it was not clear whether the incident had a basis in “ethnic conflict.” Violence among local men, sometimes resulting in death, was not uncommon in the region, but such altercations were often rooted in ongoing personal disputes, especially when alcohol was involved, and did not necessarily have anything to do with the national identities of those who took part. Moreover, this killing occurred during the heyday of the government's promotion of the ideology of “Brotherhood and Unity” [bratstvo i jedinstvo], which stressed interethnic solidarity while strongly sanctioning expressions of nationalism, both of which led to a dramatic decrease in the everyday use of national categories after World War II. Nevertheless, at one point the nearly fifty Muslims who had come to watch the trial began shouting “Fuck your Serb-Chetnik mother!” toward the accused, making reference not only to his nationality, but also to the mostly Serb guerrilla fighters, known as Chetniks, who had murdered thousands of Muslims in the region during the Second World War. They demanded that the court sentence the man to death, or else they would take matters into their own hands. Things got so out of control that at least ten policemen had to intervene to restore order. After the incident, local Muslims were reported to have told each other that the accused “will not be punished the way he deserves because his Serb friends in the government are protecting him. If he were Muslim, he would have been sentenced to death.”1

What explains this rapid crystallization of an antagonistic sense of “us” and “them,” especially before the court had the chance to establish whether the nationalities of the victim and the accused had anything to do with the killing? How can such a powerful sense of nationhood suddenly appear at such moments? Influential scholars of nationalism, including Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm, Benedict Anderson, and Miroslav Hroch, have proposed various developmental explanations of nationhood, arguing that a strong sense of it evolves gradually over a long period of time, mostly in response to significant economic, political, and cultural transformations.2 Others, such as historians Pieter Judson, Jeremy King, James Bjork, and Tara Zahra, have questioned this developmental paradigm by showing that ordinary people often remain indifferent when elites attempt to promote a sense of nationhood.3 Some political scientists have also pointed to the national indifference of the masses, highlighting instead the role of political elites in fomenting conflicts along ethnic lines when widespread feelings of interethnic animosity apparently do not exist.4

While these approaches certainly have their merits, they offer little in the way of answers to the questions that arise from the account of the fight near Višegrad. How are we to make sense of situations in which, like a train switching tracks, an abrupt shift takes place, leading to the emergence of a sense of “sudden nationhood,” marked by an antagonistic form of intensely felt collective solidarity and a simultaneous collective categorization of others as enemies? Despite the booming interest in the study of ethnicity and nationhood, this phenomenon remains curiously understudied, especially at the micro level. As the sociologist Rogers Brubaker observed, “I know of no sustained analytical discussions of nationness as an event, as something that suddenly crystallizes rather than gradually develops, as a contingent, conjuncturally fluctuating, and precarious frame of vision and basis for individual and collective action.”5 Some scholars have responded to his observation by producing macro-level studies of the role played by large-scale, contingent events in the success and failure of nationalist movements.6 Yet few have taken up the challenge of investigating and explaining how nationhood can suddenly surface at the micro level—in small communities and among neighbors. This is a subject that demands attention if we wish to better understand how ordinary people practice nationhood, and how their actions affect local intercommunal relations.7

A newly available source base, containing reports on local intercommunal relations in post–World War II Bosnia-Herzegovina, has made such a micro-level examination possible. These documents, compiled during the 1950s and 1960s by municipal committees [opštinski komiteti] of the League of Communists of Bosnia-Herzegovina [Savez komunista Bosne i Hercegovine] and only recently released by the State Archive of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo and the Archive of the Una-Sana Canton in Bihać, were originally produced for internal use only. The purpose of their creation was to help the League's Central Committee conduct surveillance on local intercommunal relations and, most importantly, to aid in finding ways to eradicate any manifestations of “national chauvinism” among the residents in local communities who were now living together in the shadow of a civil war and interethnic violence. By examining the reports from a single region, and supplementing those documents with the views of some local residents, we can undertake an eventful analysis of local incidents of conflict, thereby shedding new light on the microdynamics of nationhood and the power of contingent and unexpected events to radically and suddenly transform social relations.8 By analyzing how local incidents can trigger mental schemas of collective categorization that are based in traumatic memories and experiences of mass violence, we can better understand how nationhood can suddenly become such a powerful lens through which ordinary people interpret their world.9 More broadly, we can open up new ways for historians and others to explain how nationalism works.

Located approximately fifty kilometers southeast of the city of Bihać in northwestern Bosnia, the Kulen Vakuf region was, on the eve of the Second World War, composed primarily of Muslims and Orthodox Serbs, along with a smaller number of Catholic Croats.10 The community's pre–World War II history, though not without conflict (due mostly to Ottoman policies that pitted Muslim landlords against their predominantly Orthodox Christian tenants), was one of long-term peace and manageable discord. Prior to the Second World War, serious intercommunal violence had occurred only once in the region, during the peasant uprising of 1875–1878.11

The watershed moment when mass violence first took hold was the summer of 1941. It began in June with the killings of Serbs by small numbers of local Croats and Muslims known as Ustašas, who had taken power after the German invasion of Yugoslavia and the creation of the fascist Independent State of Croatia.12 As was true of the mass killings in 1941 in other parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, such as Poland, Ukraine, Belorussia, and Romania, it appears that many of the local perpetrators took part primarily to settle personal disputes with their neighbors and to steal from them.13 The Ustašas' murder of about six hundred unarmed Serb civilians caused a Serb insurgency, which the handful of local communists struggled to mold into a multiethnic guerrilla army fighting for socialist revolution. The communist leadership's weak hold over the insurgents became evident in late July and early August, when the peasant fighters attacked four Croatian villages and, instead of settling scores only with local Ustašas, massacred every Croat they could find. Several hundred people were killed, including many women and children.14 Yet the climax of communist failure was a much larger series of massacres that occurred in and around the town of Kulen Vakuf between September 6 and 8, 1941. During those three days, revenge-driven Serb insurgents and peasants murdered nearly two thousand of their mostly unarmed Muslim neighbors.15

The most striking aspect of this local violence was the importance of short-term situational factors in triggering and escalating the mass killing. It was not deeply rooted, widespread hatred among neighbors that led a small group of extremists and opportunists to plunder and commit murder, but rather the sudden arrival of war and the establishment of a fascist regime. This violence then set off a series of massacres that quickly engulfed the entire community and assumed genocidal dimensions. Similar to the dynamics of mass violence in Rwanda in 1994, the context of war and the initial acts of killing in Kulen Vakuf produced a rapid “collective categorization of the other,” in which the soft boundaries of religion and nationality between former neighbors who historically had generally interacted peacefully were quickly transformed into hard, lethal lines of division.16 Many of the Serbs who survived the massacres committed by the Ustašas suddenly viewed all Muslims and Croats as guilty, which led them to commit revenge killings. In turn, many of the Croats and Muslims who survived those retaliatory killings now suddenly felt that all Serbs were guilty, which further escalated the violence.17 The violence in the region thus rapidly created new perceptions of extremely polarized group identities by inscribing hard boundaries through the act of killing. This counterintuitive dynamic—in which violence creates antagonistic identities rather than antagonistic identities leading to violence—is one that scholars have begun to call attention to in other contexts, such as the civil war in Greece and riots at various places in South Asia.18

Figure 1:

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The community together before the Second World War: Muslim and Serb members of the soccer team Mladost [Youth] in Kulen Vakuf posing together for a photograph in 1937. From Esad Bibanović, “Kulen Vakuf: Svjedočanstvo jednog vremena” [Kulen Vakuf: Testimony of a Time] (unpublished manuscript, written during the 1970s and 1980s), 39.

Figure 1:

Compliance with permission from the rights holder to display this image online prohibits further enlargement or copying.

The community together before the Second World War: Muslim and Serb members of the soccer team Mladost [Youth] in Kulen Vakuf posing together for a photograph in 1937. From Esad Bibanović, “Kulen Vakuf: Svjedočanstvo jednog vremena” [Kulen Vakuf: Testimony of a Time] (unpublished manuscript, written during the 1970s and 1980s), 39.

In short, the mass killings were driven primarily by unexpected local situational events rather than a meticulous plan conceived by a state leadership seeking to exploit deep, preexisting antagonistic social cleavages, and the mass violence that occurred rapidly produced high levels of intercommunal polarization. As the civil war unfolded, the communist-led, multiethnic Partisan resistance movement, which was dedicated to interethnic coexistence, eventually gained the upper hand. Paradoxically, it absorbed many of the Serbs who had perpetrated the massacres of Croats and Muslims. This wartime dynamic resulted, after the Partisan victory in 1945, in the formation of a multifaceted culture of silence regarding the mass killings of Croat and Muslim civilians, which the communist authorities, along with local perpetrators and survivors, helped to create and enforce.19

In the postwar period, there were three main mental schemas that structured people's thinking about intercommunal relations. The first was harmony. Given the amount of violence during the war, it is perhaps surprising that relations among some residents were more positive after it ended. A key element was the lengths to which some neighbors had gone to save each other during the peak of the violence (June–September 1941). More than a few took great risks to rescue their neighbors, sometimes paying with their lives.20 Those whose lives were saved in one round of massacres might then go on to save those who had previously saved them. This dynamic ensured that deep feelings of admiration and gratitude existed after 1945. For example, the wife of a local Muslim man named Mujo Dervišević, who narrowly escaped being murdered at a pit where Serb insurgents executed more than four hundred Muslims, always praised the Serb who saved her family, inviting him for coffee and referring to him as “my brother.”21 Other Muslims fondly recalled their Serb neighbors who had saved their lives during the war, making it a point to remind others who had not experienced the same treatment that “the Serbs are not all the same.”22 Those who were rescued by their neighbors during the war apparently came to believe that it was a person's character and behavior that mattered most, not his or her nationality.23

The positive postwar relations between some Serbs and Muslims in the region were visible once the two communities began rebuilding their houses of worship in Kulen Vakuf during the mid to late 1950s. When the Serbs were rebuilding their Orthodox church, they received assistance from some Muslim neighbors, who donated materials and money.24 In 1962, the local communist authorities were surprised to discover that the man who had made the largest contribution, for the church's bell and tower, was a Muslim.25 This generosity went both ways: when the Muslims began rebuilding their mosque, some of their Serb neighbors gave donations.26 It is impossible to know exactly what motivated these individuals, but it seems likely that the violence of 1941—specifically, surviving the mass killings because of what their neighbors did to save them—had the paradoxical effect of strengthening intercommunal relations. This made postwar social harmony a reality for some.

A second mental schema, which at least gave the appearance of harmony, was state-enforced “Brotherhood and Unity.” As a local Serb Partisan remembered, “[National] relations were good, but they had to be good. Brotherhood and Unity was the law.”27 Toward this end, the local authorities staged various celebrations, memorializing such events as President Josip Broz Tito's birthday on May 25 and the day that marked the communist insurgency, July 27, 1941.28 These were engineered, in part, to provide citizens of different nationalities with common holidays.29 Another method that was used to unify the multiethnic population was to selectively remember the war dead in non-ethnic ways, such as through the public ritual of carrying wreaths to the graves of “Fallen Fighters” [pali borci] and “Victims of Fascist Terror” [žrtve fašističkog terora] on July 4, “The Day of the Fighter” [Dan borca], and other commemorative days related to the war.30 The authorities also organized “work actions” [radne akcije], such as building roads and rail lines.31 Not only were these activities geared toward rebuilding and expanding the existing infrastructure, they were also designed to encourage people of different nationalities who were now living together after a civil war to work together toward common objectives.

This is not to say that the Yugoslav communists sought to transform their multiethnic population into a new monoethnic “Yugoslav nation.” Like their Soviet counterparts, they generally supported the national principle and often encouraged nationally defined territories, languages, and cultures. But all such expressions had to take place within the framework of “Brotherhood and Unity,” which could be loosely compared to the concept of “the Friendship of Peoples” in the Soviet Union. In both cases, “nations” could be national in form, but they had to be socialist in content and united as “brothers.” Antagonistic nationalism was not tolerated.32

Figure 2:

Compliance with permission from the rights holder to display this image online prohibits further enlargement or copying.

The town of Kulen Vakuf was home to a small garrison of Croat and Muslim Ustašas who organized the killing of hundreds of local Serbs during the summer of 1941. This caused a Serb insurgency, which culminated in the revenge killing of nearly two thousand non-Serbs, most of whom were Muslims. The legacy of this locally executed violence exerted a decisive influence on intercommunal relations for decades after 1945. Photograph taken by the author in October 2008.

Figure 2:

Compliance with permission from the rights holder to display this image online prohibits further enlargement or copying.

The town of Kulen Vakuf was home to a small garrison of Croat and Muslim Ustašas who organized the killing of hundreds of local Serbs during the summer of 1941. This caused a Serb insurgency, which culminated in the revenge killing of nearly two thousand non-Serbs, most of whom were Muslims. The legacy of this locally executed violence exerted a decisive influence on intercommunal relations for decades after 1945. Photograph taken by the author in October 2008.

A central element in the cultivation and enforcement of “Brotherhood and Unity” was the local authorities' monitoring of intercommunal relations. They conducted such surveillance not only to gather information, but also to find ways of molding the population's behavior in accordance with the desire for true “Brotherhood and Unity.”33 Following the war, the Central Committee of the Communist Party instructed its local committees to amass information on national relations in the localities. It was primarily interested in finding out whether “Brotherhood and Unity” existed, or was coming into existence, and if not, then who were the individuals, groups, or “elements” standing in the way.34 This information-gathering remained a top priority for decades.35

A report on national relations in the Kulen Vakuf municipality produced in December 1958 provides examples of the types of behaviors that concerned the authorities. A Muslim named Omer Kulenović referred to Kulen Vakuf as having been “Turkish” until 1918, after which it fell into Serb hands; he criticized the Serbian monarchy during the interwar period and the dominance of Serbs in the Partisan movement during the war and in the Communist Party after 1945. At a gathering organized by the Serbian Orthodox church in the village of Mali Cvjetnić, a Serb named Miloš Knežević was said to have yelled to the crowd: “Here are the Serbs of Cvjetnić! Where are the Turks of [Kulen] Vakuf? Fuck their Turkish mothers!” The report contained a number of examples of behavior that the authorities classified as “chauvinism,” acts deemed threatening to individuals of a different nationality, and thus damaging to “Brotherhood and Unity.”36

Having gathered this information, the authorities then dealt with the offenders. They instructed the Socialist Association of Working People [Socijalistički savez radnog naroda], a large sociopolitical organization to which most citizens belonged, to organize public meetings for all local residents regarding “Some chauvinist expressions in our municipality and the work of the organization of the Socialist Association on this question.”37 Prior to the meetings, local communists spoke privately with each of the offenders and advised them that they would have to attend and apologize to the entire community. Later, most stood up at the meetings and expressed regret for their comments.38

Such public events provided a forum for the authorities to communicate to the local population that insulting their neighbors on the basis of nationality would not be tolerated.39 This practice provided local residents with powerful incentives to get along, at least on the surface, irrespective of their true feelings. People knew that they were being watched, and that they would be reprimanded if they acted in ways damaging to “Brotherhood and Unity.” These anti-nationalist practices had two additional effects, one intentional and one not. First, the use of surveillance and discipline taught the population to speak the language of “Brotherhood and Unity,” an element of which was learning how to criticize in non-ethnic ways.40 Second, the official punishment meted out for such infractions showed them that by accusing local enemies of being “national chauvinists,” they could potentially leverage the state against their opponents. This dynamic was similar to what Jan Gross has called “the privatization of politics” in his study of the Sovietization of parts of Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1941.41 It may have unintentionally encouraged people to view everyday incidents and personal conflicts as possible manifestations of “chauvinism” that could be brought to the attention of the authorities as a way to settle local disputes.42 In this sense, the state's enforcement of the anti-nationalist ideology of “Brotherhood and Unity” may have resulted in people thinking more—not less—about using nationalism and national categories in their interpretations of everyday experiences.

When individuals who had insulted others on the basis of nationality chose not to apologize at public meetings, or when the offenses were considered egregious enough that a public apology would not suffice, the authorities employed other methods. Local communists had no qualms about instructing the local police and courts to arrest, prosecute, and punish the offenders, usually through expulsion from sociopolitical organizations, fines, and/or imprisonment. In January 1957, for example, Milka Grubiša, a Serb member of the League of Communists from the municipality of Kulen Vakuf, got into a “chauvinistic fight” with a Muslim schoolteacher. The incident was serious enough that those present called the police. When the officers, who appeared to be Muslims, arrived, Grubiša insulted them as well. The regional committee of the League of Communists in Bihać, to which Grubiša belonged, recommended that she be expelled from the organization because of this incident, as well as a number of other occasions on which she had exhibited behavior considered unacceptable for a member of the League.43

In another instance, in 1958, a Serb named Branko Altagić tried to persuade a group of Serbs from the village of Prkosi to leave their municipality and join the future municipality of Vrtoče, promising that if they did so, they would be given a store in their village. They responded by saying that they already had one. It happened to be operated by the trading firm “Ostrovica,” which was based in Kulen Vakuf and run by Muslims. The firm also employed a mostly Muslim workforce. Altagić exploded in anger, yelling out to the other Serbs: “The store in Prkosi is Ustaša! We Serbs from Vrtoče liberated you Serbs in Prkosi and Oraško Brdo from the Ustašas whose municipality you now love being part of. The time will come again when they will slaughter you, and so let them slaughter you … we won't defend you from them.” The Ministry of Internal Affairs recommended that he be prosecuted and punished for this chauvinistic verbal assault.44

Figure 3:

Compliance with permission from the rights holder to display this image online prohibits further enlargement or copying.

A political meeting in Kulen Vakuf, ca. the late 1950s or early 1960s. On such occasions the local communist authorities would stress the need to protect “Brotherhood and Unity” and publicly chastise anyone who spoke the language of “national chauvinism.” Arhiv Muzeja Unsko-sanskog kantona u Bihaću, Fond Zbirke fotografija bivšeg sreza i opštine Bihać, Kulen Vakuf, sheet 161, photograph 12.

Figure 3:

Compliance with permission from the rights holder to display this image online prohibits further enlargement or copying.

A political meeting in Kulen Vakuf, ca. the late 1950s or early 1960s. On such occasions the local communist authorities would stress the need to protect “Brotherhood and Unity” and publicly chastise anyone who spoke the language of “national chauvinism.” Arhiv Muzeja Unsko-sanskog kantona u Bihaću, Fond Zbirke fotografija bivšeg sreza i opštine Bihać, Kulen Vakuf, sheet 161, photograph 12.

The enforcement of “Brotherhood and Unity” through vigorous policing consumed a significant amount of the attention of the authorities in the region, and in fact throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the Bihać region (in which the municipality of Kulen Vakuf was located), the Secretariat of Internal Affairs [Sekretarijat unutrašnjih poslova] prosecuted 110 cases in 1961 against individuals who had acted in ways that were considered to be “chauvinistic,” and thus damaging to “Brotherhood and Unity.”45 The number of people who were arrested and warned but not prosecuted was likely much higher. Throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, thousands of individuals were disciplined by the authorities for “chauvinism” during the same period. Between January 1958 and September 1961, local police counted 329 serious physical altercations that had started because of chauvinistic comments, involving more than 2,500 individuals.46 From late 1959 or early 1960 until mid-1962, 7,433 individual acts of “chauvinism” were reported across the republic, an average of 8 per day. It is not clear whether all the offending individuals were formally charged and prosecuted, although the existence of such precise statistical information strongly suggests the involvement of the police in some way, and a high probability of some kind of punishment.47 The large number of reported incidents and the extensive involvement of the police and courts illustrate the importance that the communist authorities placed on rigorously policing “Brotherhood and Unity.” If anyone wavered in supporting this ideology, the government's readiness to enforce positive national relations was a compelling incentive for people to get along in their everyday affairs.

A third mental schema affected intercommunal relations among a smaller number of people: discord. The evidence suggests that their attitudes were rooted in the mass killings of 1941 and other instances of wartime violence. Some of those who actively spread these views were religious leaders. Father Branislav Branić, an Orthodox priest from the Kulen Vakuf region, was known to refer to Muslims as “dogs.” Alluding to the fact that some Muslims had murdered Serbs during the war, he warned Serbs that they should protect themselves from their Muslim neighbors, because “the dog that bit you last year will bite you again this year.”48 Several Muslim clerics in the wider region reportedly warned local Muslims that they were in danger from former Serb Partisans, whom they sometimes called “Chetnik-Communists”—a reference to the Partisans' absorption during the war of many Serb fighters who had previously murdered Muslims.49 Such examples suggest the importance of wartime events in structuring the negative attitudes toward Muslims and Serbs that were espoused by some Orthodox and Islamic clerics after the war.

Even some of those who were in the vanguard of promoting “Brotherhood and Unity”—communist officials and members of the military—held negative views about their neighbors of different nationalities.50 A number of local Serbs, including a handful of members of the League of Communists, were noted during 1958 to have referred to Muslims in the area in a derogatory way as “Turks” and to have cursed their “Turkish mothers,” especially while drinking.51 Such comments could cause fights, as was the case in 1958 when a Serb who was an active major in the Yugoslav People's Army was drinking heavily in a hotel at a table with a number of other Serbs. At one point he turned toward a Muslim sitting nearby and shouted that he was an Ustaša. The Muslim and the others he was sitting with shouted back that the major and his company were Chetniks. The two men stood up and faced off against each other, with the major drawing his pistol. Approximately twenty Serbs gathered around the major, and sixty to seventy Muslims assembled opposite them. Some pulled out knives, while others picked up chairs. At the last moment, a Muslim former Partisan managed to calm the Serbs down, and a mass brawl was avoided.52 This example suggests that wartime experiences and categories, which often overlapped with national categories (e.g., Ustašas as Muslims and Chetniks as Serbs), continued to exert a strong influence on some individuals after the war, even among communists and members of the military, despite their mandate to promote “Brotherhood and Unity.”53

There were similar occurrences in other parts of the wider region during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1962, a group of Serb youth crept into a Croatian village one night and began singing Serbian songs and yelling “Fuck your Ustaša mothers!” to the Croats. A number of Croat youth came out of their houses to confront them, and a brawl started, involving thirty to forty people. In a report about the incident, the League of Communists identified the legacy of the war as a direct cause, noting that many of the Croats' parents were Ustašas who had murdered the parents of the Serbs in 1941.54 On other occasions, no physical altercations occurred, but the legacy of the war in structuring perceptions was clearly evident. Some Serbs criticized the installation of electricity and the construction of water and sewage systems in Muslim villages and towns, arguing that these were “Ustaša places” that did not deserve infrastructure.55

In 1963, the regional League of Communists indicated that a special problem with regard to “chauvinism” was that some individuals who had lost relatives in the wartime mass killings were expressing a desire to take revenge.56 The situation was similar in other regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In some Serbian and Muslim villages in the Zenica region, many residents had been either Chetniks or Ustašas during the war. The League noted that conflicts between several individuals that were rooted in wartime mass killings had stretched on into the 1960s.57 In the commune of Lukavac, a Muslim and a Serb got into a fight in a tavern, and the Muslim yelled out: “What happened to your father [in 1941] will happen to you … you need to be slaughtered just like your father … your time will come!”58 These examples lend support to a claim made by the League of Communists in a 1962 report: “Aside from economic and cultural issues, the war has had the biggest impact on contemporary national relations.”59 For some, the traumas that they endured during the war had left them with seemingly unchangeable negative views of their neighbors of different nationalities. And this attitude sometimes permeated perceptions not only of the past, but also of the future. A former Chetnik in the Kakanj region was reported to have said to his Serb neighbors in 1961: “Hold on to your weapons because there will come a time when you will need them.”60 At the end of the 1960s in eastern Bosnia, where there had been widespread mass killings of Muslim civilians by Serb Chetniks during the war, a local Muslim man predicted that war would soon return: “Things are difficult for us Muslims. The Serbs will slaughter us once again.”61

These three mental schemas—harmony, state-enforced “Brotherhood and Unity,” and discord—offer a window into the complex nature of local postwar intercommunal relations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the suggestion of a neat distinction among them, while useful for the sake of analysis, presents a somewhat static portrait of social relations that obscures a much more fluid and volatile dynamic. Previously unavailable documents suggest that high levels of antagonistic “groupness” could rapidly crystallize in response to incidents that were perceived to be based in “ethnic conflict.” At such moments, some people would experience an abrupt shift, quickly interpreting the cause of an incident as being rooted in a participant's nationality, and especially the wartime associations they attached to whole nationalities. These interpretations did not merely describe such incidents as “ethnically based”; they actually constituted them in such terms.62 As a result, incidents between individuals were rapidly transformed into conflicts between collectivities, between an “us” and a “them.” In the process, some people would suddenly experience a powerful sense of antagonistic nationhood.

Two further points are relevant in conceptualizing this dynamic of “sudden nationhood.” First, the fact that national categories retained their salience for some people after the war should not lead us to conclude that such categories and wartime associations were dominant among a majority of people on an everyday basis. The evidence suggests that they were not, especially because of the authorities' vigorous policing of “Brotherhood and Unity.” Rather, they could surface at times when emotions became volatile, usually in response to incidents of conflict. The second point is that the reactions to incidents that produced sudden nationhood were not necessarily driven by a calculated desire to instrumentalize ethnicity for a particular objective, such as to leverage the state against individuals in a personal dispute; rather, individuals suddenly adopted a highly ethnicized interpretation of incidents in a much more un-self-conscious and quasi-automatic way after threats or acts of violence triggered ethnic ways of seeing.63 Sudden nationhood was thus a rapid shift from a generally non-ethnicized to a highly ethnicized way of seeing the world, and it was more an automatic emotional response than a rational, instrumental decision.

Among the incidents that tended to give rise to sudden nationhood were verbal assaults, physical altercations, and murders, many of which appear to have had linkages to wartime events. In a 1963 report, the regional League of Communists demonstrated its awareness of how rapidly such incidents could transform intercommunal relations: “Chauvinism remains an ongoing problem … its danger is latently alive. Every improper gesture or action has the potential to awaken and initiate political problems.”64 Several examples from the 1950s and 1960s illustrate how sudden nationhood could crystallize in the aftermath of local incidents. During the late 1950s, the League of Communists did not characterize intercommunal relations in the wider region as negative. But when several Serbs murdered a Muslim who was walking through their village in the municipality of Bužim one night, a number of local Muslims suddenly lost whatever illusions they might have had about the communist authorities' support of “Brotherhood and Unity.” It was not clear whether the murder was rooted in ethnic conflict. Yet as one Muslim later summed up the general sentiment: “If a Serb had been killed, then the government would have killed fifty Muslims, but if fifty Muslims were killed, they wouldn't kill a single Serb.”65 This murder not only inflamed tensions between local Serbs and Muslims, it also revealed an underlying sense among some Muslims that the authorities were heavily biased against them. The killing showed how quickly such an incident could be interpreted and constituted entirely through the lens of ethnic conflict, as well as the government's potentially disappointing response. It was no longer a murder that involved several individuals, some of whom happened to be Serb and one of whom happened to be Muslim; it was now an incident between “Serbs” and “Muslims” more generally.

Other cases show how incidents of conflict exposed some people's implicit belief that their neighbors were guilty of causing problems not because of their individual behaviors, but rather because they happened to be of a different nationality. Sometime during 1958 in a village located near Kulen Vakuf, a Muslim named Salih Hadžić showed up at his Serb neighbor Branko Rokvić's house in a state of intoxication. He invited himself in, then struck Rokvić for no apparent reason. The police investigation did not conclude that Hadžić had assaulted Rokvić because he hated Serbs; drunkenness and some kind of ongoing personal dispute between the two appeared to be the causes of the incident. But Rokvić's family nevertheless insisted that it be treated as an act of national chauvinism, and began spreading the rumor that “Muslims” were responsible for all acts of chauvinism.66 In this case, the family's immediate perception that the fight was about ethnic hatred was a more important factor in their interpretation of the incident than whatever information the police investigation uncovered. The “national” quality of “national conflict” was not self-evident and intrinsic in this case, even though the incident occurred between a Serb and Muslim; rather, relatives of the victim attempted to constitute it as “national conflict” through their post-incident interpretive claims.67 In so doing, they were the central actors in producing sudden nationhood.

These sorts of incidents sometimes led people to demand that all the members of a particular nationality be punished, even though the incident in question may have had nothing to do with national conflict, and the guilty party may have been only a single individual. For example, in the late 1950s or early 1960s, a Muslim boy raped an elderly Serb woman in the village of Bušević, near Kulen Vakuf. Even though the police determined that the boy had committed the crime for reasons other than “national chauvinism,” Serbs in the village began to talk about the need to take revenge on “the Muslims” for the incident. In a similar local occurrence, two boys, one Serb and the other Muslim, got into a fight, with the Muslim killing the Serb. The reasons for the fight did not appear to have anything do to with national conflict; it apparently was a personal dispute that had spiraled out of control. Nevertheless, local Serbs spoke about the need to avenge the boy's death by dealing not only with the Muslim boy who was guilty of the killing, but also with all “the Muslims” in the region, whom they saw as collectively guilty.68 In similar cases, some Serbs refused to speak about the murder of one of their own as the act of an individual. In one such case, a Muslim named Haso had killed a Serb boy. The Serbs, however, quickly jumped from saying “Haso killed the boy” to “The Turks killed the boy,” which was a derogatory way of referring to Muslims, and could also mean “Ustašas.”69 Such examples illuminate how some people interpreted conflicts that were nominally interethnic exclusively through the lens of national conflict. This perspective then framed their calls for revenge along the lines of nationality. But their interpretive claims and their subsequent calls for revenge were constitutive acts, geared toward making incidents “national,” with the effect of producing sudden nationhood.

The Central Committee of the League of Communists of Bosnia-Herzegovina noted in 1959 that it was often small, everyday incidents that ended up snowballing into national conflicts—or, perhaps more accurately, conflicts that people perceived as national. A Muslim's livestock wandering onto a Serb's property, or a Serb walking through a Muslim village singing a Serbian song—such incidents could provoke Muslims to curse the “Serb,” “Vlah,” or “Chetnik” mothers of the Serbs, or the Serbs to curse the “Turkish,” “Ustaša,” or “balijska” mothers of the Muslims, all of which were highly offensive to those on the receiving end.70 These curses, which almost always categorized the recipient in ethnic and/or wartime terms and included a declaration to sexually assault the recipient's mother, suggest that there was a close intersection between memories of wartime violence, gender, and instances of sudden nationhood. Hurling such insults may have been a means for men—who appear to have been the vast majority of those who yelled these curses—to regain their sense of power and masculinity, which had been so profoundly damaged during the war through acts of mass violence, frequently including instances of mass sexual assault against their women.71 Scholars of South Asia have noted a similar dynamic in local forms of nationalism in which overcoming a sense of effeminization at the hands of the “ethnic other” is a central driving force in instances of local conflict, particularly among young men.72

Thus it is hardly surprising that these verbal assaults, which could readily be construed as making reference to the intimate, traumatic histories of violence against a community's women during the war, could easily lead to small fights, which could rapidly escalate into mass brawls. On some occasions, entire villages that normally enjoyed a peaceful coexistence suddenly found themselves facing off against each other after a relatively minor incident, often with no clear basis in “national conflict,” sparked a fight between individuals of different nationalities.73 The degree to which individuals would suddenly align themselves exclusively with their co-nationals during and after such incidents was evident when the authorities tried to prosecute the guilty parties. More often than not, only Muslim witnesses would come forward to help Muslims accused of having participated in such fights, and only Serbs would come forward to help Serbs.74

Sometimes it was not even necessary for an incident to occur for interpretations that could lead to intercommunal violence to instantly emerge and rapidly spread. Rumors were often all it took to cause a major disturbance, as historians and anthropologists of a number of parts of Europe and South Asia have noted in other contexts.75 The Central Committee reported with dismay about a brawl between the Serb and Muslim residents of a village in the Sarajevo region during the late 1950s. The cause of the fight was a report that had quickly circulated among local Serbs that their Muslim neighbors had damaged their Orthodox church and cemetery. A huge fight ensued. The report, however, was false; it had simply been a rumor: the Muslims had done nothing.76

In a similar occurrence in 1964 from the Velika Kladuša region, a Muslim boy herding livestock near an Orthodox cemetery threw a rock and damaged a picture on a gravestone. The family of the deceased was incensed and immediately demanded that the local police arrest the boy for a nationalist attack. His family quickly apologized, but the Serb family continued to insist that the League of Communists treat the incident as a chauvinistic act. Wild rumors then began to circulate through the Serbian villages in the area that Muslims were removing corpses from the cemetery and that they planned to build a new mosque next to the Orthodox church.77 Even a child's simple act of throwing a stone could quickly escalate into a “national conflict.”

These examples do not suggest that communities in which the residents are of different nationalities are somehow more prone to conflict and violence than mono-cultural communities. It was not an intrinsic sense of antagonistic cultural difference among the local residents that produced the reactions to these incidents. Rather, it was the specific historical dynamics of local intercommunal relations in Bosnia-Herzegovina that predisposed certain individuals to interpret conflicts in a particularly antagonistic way. In many cases, the evidence suggests that the shadow of wartime events was in the background, structuring and giving amplification to the ways in which certain people interpreted rumors and actual incidents of conflict. For example, in 1961, a Serb worker was killed on a jobsite in the Bosanski Petrovac region, near Kulen Vakuf, when some heavy materials accidentally fell on him. Only Muslim workers had been loading such materials that day. Several Serb workers—whom the League of Communists later referred to as “Serb nationalist elements” because they had served time in prison for having been Chetniks during the war—then started a rumor that the Muslim workers had intentionally killed the Serb. After hearing this story, the rest of the Serb workers prepared to engage in a brawl with their Muslim co-workers. The presence of the police averted what would surely have been a serious fight. It appears that the wartime experiences of the Serbs who spread the rumor had conditioned them to instantly interpret such an accident through the prism of national conflict.78

Wartime events also played a role in structuring reactions to incidents of interethnic conflict in other regions. In the Foča region of eastern Bosnia, a fight occurred in 1963 between two co-workers, one Muslim and the other Serb, at the region's thermoelectric plant. Reports by the League of Communists did not suggest that the two men had a direct history of interethnic conflict that dated to the Second World War. In fact, it appears that both had been children during the war. Nonetheless, their fight caused the Muslim, Hajrudin Hasanbegović, who was a member of the League, to yell at his Serb co-worker, Anđelko Pavlović, that “people like him” (i.e., Serbs) had cut his brother's throat during the war, then stolen everything from their house, and now they were building themselves a new house with what they had plundered. Pavlović responded that the Muslim men of the Hasanbegović family had all been Ustašas during the war, and that Hajrudin would have been one as well had he been old enough.79 A key factor here was how the fight triggered a mental schema of wartime experiences and/or memories, perhaps transmitted by relatives, that structured the way each man categorized and disparaged the other. This fight between two co-workers who happened to be of different nationalities was thus transformed into an “ethnic conflict” with strong wartime associations.

A government report compiled in 1961 on “chauvinistic fights and incidents” in the wider region in which the municipality of Kulen Vakuf was located confirmed this tendency on the part of certain individuals to quickly give fights, killings, rapes, and other incidents of violence a “chauvinistic color.” It appears that their automatic response was to interpret a given incident as a “chauvinistic attack,” or as a manifestation of national conflict, simply because the victim and the perpetrator were of different nationalities.80 The League of Communists noted that wartime experiences played a crucial role in some people's interpretations of such incidents.81

The archival evidence for who, exactly, the main actors were in fueling instances of sudden nationhood is frequently thin, and contemporary ethnographic research can yield frustratingly few insights given the degree to which the most recent war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992–1995) devastated local communities through mass killing, expulsion, and emigration. There often are few survivors who can provide further insights about specific local conflicts noted in archival documents written in the 1950s and 1960s. Nonetheless, it is still possible to sketch a social profile of those who initiated and fed the flames of sudden nationhood.

A majority appear to have been from rural regions and small towns where the wartime intercommunal violence was often most severe and intimate. Many were middle-aged and said to have participated in “Chetnik” and “Ustaša” formations during the war. Others were the children of such individuals, described by the communists as having been imbued with the views of their parents.82 The family members of a victim in a given incident often played the most active role in creating and propagating an ethnicized interpretation of a conflict.83 One group that appears prominently is men who were released early from prison during the 1950s and 1960s after serving time for participating in mass killings and other war crimes. In some cases, they returned to their villages and received a hero's welcome, with celebrations lasting for days and guns being fired into the air, all of which unnerved the residents of the neighboring villages where the survivors of their wartime violence lived.84 These individuals appear to have often been the key “strong men,” to use Sudhir Kakar's evocative term from his work on leaders of communal violence in India, in launching attempts to frame incidents in ethnic terms.85 According to the authorities, they had more success in mobilizing others to adopt their interpretations when they evoked painful wartime memories. As the League stated in 1962:

A special form of chauvinistic activity relates to evoking events from the war. This influences youth and encourages them to hate other nationalities and to engage in chauvinistic activities. It is expressed especially in regions where there were mass slaughters during the war. Under the influence of such individuals, it is not uncommon for people to express a desire to avenge their loved ones who were killed during the war.86

Sometimes it was communists who initiated incidents of sudden nationhood, rather than those whom the communists had fought against and imprisoned for wartime interethnic killings.87 Archival evidence shows that there were many instances in which local police officers and members of the League of Communists played the leading role, contradicting the authorities' argument that it was usually wartime “enemies of the people” who were responsible for triggering and escalating incidents of “national chauvinism.”88 Thus whether the instigator was inside or outside the communist government was not a primary determining factor. Rather, it was the direct experience of extreme intercommunal violence, or a memory of it transmitted by relatives and/or neighbors, that resulted in a mental schema in which wartime perpetrator categories and whole “ethnic groups” could easily be conflated during and after highly charged moments of conflict.89

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