Transforming borders in the Western Balkans - Methodology concept for research in post-conflict borderlands
The research covers the northern part of Western Balkans region, namely the borderlands between the Republic of Croatia and its neighbors, the Republic of Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Twenty years ago these borderlands did not exist outside individual mind-sets and historical narratives, and were part of the inner borders of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but became important during the Yugoslav wars in 1990's. Those borderlands were contested in all sorts of political projects during the conflict. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, local people were divided by international borders between new sovereign states. Local population was interconnected and questions of nationality and minority rights were raised. Economic mobility was limited as the new borders introduced barriers to trade, employment, and investment. Through the process of Europeanization and the accession of Croatia to the European Union these borderlands became the periphery of a bigger political community, thus imposing new perceived differences and daily security issues that divide local populations even more. However, we believe that local borderland communities, defined by common local identities and cross-border cooperation, exist regardless of national or ethnic principles and successfully adapt to the processes of border transformation. This paper will introduce methodology concept for research in this specific post-conflict borderlands and define areas of cross-border communication and local identity identification. A critical perspective on the relation between state, territory, citizenship and identity will be included in this case study oriented paper with wider possibility for further implementation while addressing effects of the Europeanization process.