“In Bosnia,” Lisa Adeli says, “there’s a saying: ‘We have more history than we can stand.’” Adeli, director of Educational Outreach for the University of Arizona’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, is a scholar, a teacher, and a human rights activist with a deep understanding of that history.
On Thursday (Sept. 22) at 3:30 p.m., she will be at the Arizona Senior Academy to discuss contemporary Bosnia through the lens of its complex past. It will be her third ASA appearance exploring the conflicts of the Middle East.
Bosnia, a scenic, mountainous country smaller than West Virginia, lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, a borderland between the Eastern Orthodox world and the Catholic West where warring ethnicities of Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croatians have clashed for centuries. Adeli will trace that history through two world wars and the comparatively peaceful “brotherhood and unity” regime of Tito’s Yugoslavia after the 1940s. “It was a period,” she says, “some Bosnians look back to as the good old days.”
But in 1992, as the United Nations and a largely indifferent world looked on, Yugoslavia fell apart in a brutal war led by Bosnian Serbs against Bosnian Muslims that resulted in the most horrific mass murder in Europe since the Second World War.
Hostilities didn’t let up until NATO military bombardments began in early l995. By the end of the year, the Dayton Accords had brokered a ceasefire and partitioned Bosnia into separate administrations—principally the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina composed of Bosnians and Croats and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska. Will the peace hold and ethnic tensions ease? In 2016, these remain unresolved questions.
Adeli lived and studied in Yugoslavia in the early 1980s. Her stories and photos highlight the country’s natural beauty, the hospitality of its people, and the rich multicultural heritage expressed through its magnificent Ottoman, Hapsburg, and contemporary architecture.
Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer