Suncana Laketa

Affect, Identities, Territories: Nationalism Embodied

In many ways the violent nation building processes in former Yugoslavia that took place in the early 1990s continue to figure prominently in public and academic discourses as an epitome of ethnic sectarianism, as well as “backward” and irrational nationalism. This understanding of nationalism is based on a conceptualization of emotions as inward private experiences of individuals, often uncontrollable and irrational. In this project I aim to rethink the relationship between nationalism and emotions/affect in order to problematize its current formulation. In particular, I focus on the complex topography of the human body immersed in different force relations in order to learn how identity is embodied, i.e. enacted, performed and practiced through a diverse range of affective and emotional socio spatial practices. This conceptual framework situated within affect theory and post structuralist theories of space and identity provides for a comparative approach between societies that experience high levels of diversity, as well as geopolitical strife – Bosnian and Ukrainian society. Hence, I ask: What role does emotion and affect play in the formation and dissolution of ethno-national identity? The study is a qualitative investigation of daily life in two cities experiencing increased ethno-­national polarization – Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kharkiv in Ukraine.

Suncana Laketa was born in Split, Croatia and has grown up in Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina in a country that at the time was known as Yugoslavia. In many ways, different antagonistic nation-building processes have shaped not only her professional interests, but her personal life as well. She has a Master degree in Psychology from the University of Zagreb and a PhD degree in Human Geography from the University of Arizona. Her doctoral work funded by the US National Science Foundation investigated the geopolitics of daily life in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After graduating in May 2015, Laketa has embarked on a new postdoctoral project funded by the Forschungskredit at the University of Zürich. It is this comparative project between Bosnian and Ukrainan social and political life that she hopes to enrich and further develop during her stay at the Winter Academy in Berlin.

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