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Analysing Discourse Analysis

How the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Narrated Bosnia’s History

Add to calendar 2021-12-03 16:00 2021-12-03 18:00 Europe/Rome Analysing Discourse Analysis Sala del Torrino Villa Salviati- Castle YYYY-MM-DD


03 December 2021

16:00 - 18:00 CET


Sala del Torrino

Villa Salviati- Castle

Organised by

Department of Law

This event hosts a presentation by Marina Velickovic on her research concerning how the ICTY constructed history, followed by a discussion about Law department researchers’ discourse analysis projects.

In the first part of the event, Marina Velickovic, University of Cambridge, will present her PhD research, described as follows:

International Lawyers’ interest in the disciplinary intersection between international criminal law and history has thus far been limited to the history of international criminal law. In this thesis I argue that it is time to shift our perspective to the role of international criminal law in shaping both global histories and contemporary realities.

I focus on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and explore how five of the Tribunal’s Chambers, in the span of over 20 years, approached the questions of Bosnian history and society. I analyze three historical narratives: the Chambers’ accounts of the pre-war period, with particular focus on the epoch of the Austro-Hungarian occupation and the Yugoslav era; the Chambers’ accounts of wartime violence, especially the ways in which the focus on ethnicity in these accounts obscures socioeconomic causes of violence and conflict; and finally the Chambers’ account of international intervention(s) in Bosnia during and in the aftermath of war.

In these three substantive chapters I argue that the Chambers produce a one-dimensional history of Bosnia in which the land was always ethnically divided, and in which ethnicity was always the primary social identity. Moreover, drawing on hundreds of thousands of pages of trial transcripts and other evidentiary materials, I argue that the Chambers’ narrative is far from the only one that these materials tell. The Chambers’ account then tells us as much about those who construct it as it does about those who are in it: it reveals both the legal constraints within which the Chambers’ make their rhetorical choices and the underlying assumptions and beliefs behind these choices. I conclude that the very process of making events intelligible in international criminal law robs them of their socio-economic and historical context, an issue aggravated by the fact that international criminal law is emerging as the dominant discourse through which global justice demands can be articulated.

After Velickovic's presentation, the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions. We will share an introduction to Velickovic's thesis among registered participants prior to the event.

The presentation will be followed by a discussion among Velickovic and EUI researchers Alexandra Dubova, Yiouli Stylianidou, Angar Verma and Sebastian Von Massow on their discourse analysis projects.



Valeria Raso


Marina Velickovic (University of Cambridge)

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