Cartographic Legacies: Tracing the Effects and Afterlives of ‘Peace Cartography’ in the Landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dr. Mela Žuljević, IfL

Project description

In the fall of 1995, peace was brokered between different parties involved in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the help of international diplomacy in the city of Dayton, Ohio. During the peace talks, a division line was drawn between two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska. This ‘peace cartography’, guided by international expertise, was presented as a neutral and objective process – however, it not only solidified ethnic divisions but also introduced neoliberal and neo-colonial mechanisms in handling them. This project is interested in tracing the consequences and afterlives of this cartography – by exploring how they were inscribed in the post-war development of landscapes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through design research on particular landscapes in which the division line was drawn, the project will make legible how their future was shaped by peacebuilding visions. By creating an atlas of technologies, things and practices involved in drawing the line, it will explore how these visions were staged as ‘progressive’ and ‘benevolent’ through cartographic design. The research starts with a systematic analysis of maps and visualisations produced in the context of conflict and peacebuilding in ex-Yugoslavia, focusing on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It continues by engaging with specific case studies of post-war landscapes through fieldwork, design research and atlas-making. Finally, the research insights will inform the design of visualisation methods and tools which can support a critical and situated approach to visualising the complexities of landscapes in peace and conflict contexts.

Key questions

  • How was landscape represented in the peace-making maps and how did this cartography translate to landscape visions, management and planning?
  • How did cartographic design interact with war legacies to configure the ways of seeing the landscape and its future development?
  • What role did cartographic design play in staging specific visions as expert, objective and progressive in the context of peace and conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Methodology and sources

  • Critical cartography and visual discourse analysis of peace and conflict visualisations (January – December 2023)
  • Making landscape legacies legible: fieldwork and design research (2024)
  • Prototyping visualisation tools and methods for critical and situated cartography (2024-2025)

Project team