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What’s the story? Legal and media narratives of war crime trials and shaping of national identity in Croatia and Serbia

Authors
Publisher
IMT Alti Studi Lucca
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Ja Political Science (General)
Disciplines
  • Communication
  • Law
  • Linguistics

Abstract

This thesis analyses the impact of legal and media representations of war crime trials on master narratives of the war and identity in Croatia and Serbia. Our research is situated on the interception of scientific fields of transitional justice, media studies and studies on nationalism. We explore the relationship between official narratives of the war, legal narratives of war crime trials and the way that the media conveys both the narratives and reports on these trials. The research addresses issues concerning war crime trials, collective memories and (re)construction of national identity, national narratives and the war in the former Yugoslavia. Taking Brooks and Gewritz’s methodological approach, we used Critical Discourse Analysis to analyse law not as set of rules and policies, but as a source of narratives. Furthermore, law is given a dimension of “cultural discourse through which social narratives are structured and suppressed”. Assuming that the media in contemporary societies have huge influence on shaping knowledge about history and shared historical narratives, this research analyses local media reports on domestic war crimes trials. This research explores how media represent and report about historical narratives established by local courts in Serbia and Croatia. Subsequently, those representations are compared to background, non-legal elements, i.e. historical facts found in judgments rendered at the ICTY. We approached the problematique by analysing trial transcripts and media reports about domestic war crimes trials held in Serbia and Croatia (Ovčara-Vukovar hospital in Serbia and Medak pocket case in Croatia). We argue that transitional justice, instead of triggering truth seeking and truth telling processes that would lead to reconciliation, multiplied mutually exclusive historical narratives that determined national collective identities

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