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Elliott, A. (1994). Death and its Other in Bosnia-Herzegovina: fantasy, guilt, democracy. Free Associations, 4(4):483-499.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(4):483-499

Psychoanalysis and Politics

Death and its Other in Bosnia-Herzegovina: fantasy, guilt, democracy

Anthony Elliott

In August 1992, the horrors of ethnic conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina became visible to all. Television pictures of the deathly, inhuman conditions in which Muslim prisoners were being held in Serb detention camps immediately brought outrage from the Western world. Despite evidence that for months the Serbs had been pursuing a formal policy of ‘ethnic cleansing’, these haunting images of barbed wire and bare ribs galvanized the world into action in one stroke. But what, exactly, was the nature of our fascination with these images? It seems that they certainly led to an eruption of feelings of intense discomfort as to our political, moral and historical identity, but did they not also pertain to a deeper, repressed truth of the contemporary social order?

This article is concerned with elucidating certain affective, imaginary significations structuring the West's social and political discourse on Bosnia.1 Throughout, I focus on the theme of ‘imaginary fantasy’ as a social index.

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