6 May 2015

NIOD-employee Marieke Zoodsma has been nominated for the UvA thesis prize. This prize is annually awarded to the best and most original academic achievement of a master student.

“War changes people. It changes their perception of who they are and it changes their perception of others and who they are. For more than twenty years now, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been recovering from the devastating war that raged the country in the 1990s. The process of reconciliation has been slow and fragile, with a heavily divided political system, harsh economic conditions, and previously mixed towns largely homogenized. Although reasons for the war have been commonly attributed to ethnic, economic, social, and political factors, religion too has been a dividing factor. How can religious diversity today in Bosnia and Herzegovina, home to three of the major world religions (Roman Catholicism, Serbian Orthodoxy, and Islam), be utilized by religious initiatives to lead the way out of confrontation to a path of coexistence?

This thesis is based on extensive literature research and two months fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to gain knowledge on the role of Islamic initiatives in the reconciliation process. Although many Bosnians share a negative image of religion and religious communities, it is argued that religious initiatives do contain unique and powerful potentials for harboring reconciliation between the different communities. Focusing on the role of Islamic religious initiatives (by highlighting three exemplary case studies) in the reconciliation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this thesis will argue that it is within informal grassroots local initiatives, through the interreligious dialogue, that genuine reconciliation happens ‘on the ground’ between people of different faith”.

Marieke’s thesis can be found here.