Although James Scott (see 1990) was referring to the kinds of human resistance that come about in hegemonic situations, I would like to claim his concept of a ‘hidden transcript’
Although James Scott (see 1990) was referring to the kinds of human resistance that come about in hegemonic situations, I would like to claim his concept of a ‘hidden transcript’ for the insurrectionary practices of both ‘humans’ and ‘nonhumans’ in the southeastern Bosnian highlands. I focus on one karst landscape where a set of seasonal rituals become apparent as at once different and the same for Christians, Muslims and Roma. In the 1990s war, nationalism swept through this space, designating and erasing ‘ethnic’ communities. Survivors fled into exile. As I wondered how best to methodologically frame this intricate situation, it appeared to me that the answer was literally beneath my feet the whole time. One of the longest sinking rivers in the world begins its life in the Field of Gacko. It briefly erupts onto the wide plateau and then tumbles back into the Dinaric karst, carving out thousands of secret chambers on its journey. About all we can say for certain about the complex system of the sinking-and-rising river is that some of its singled-out qualities are at best capable of generating incomplete remarks about what is an inherently imagined system. Each time this river resurfaces, it takes on a new name. At least nineteen current names can be traced for its outward presences to anthropoi, but none for its inward-looking streams. To make a complete survey of its chambers and paths, we would have to destroy it. This is an ethnographer’s cautionary tale and one about my decision to write waywardly.
Dr Safet HadziMuhamedovic currently teaches anthropology at the University of Bristol. He has conducted fieldwork in Bosnia, Palestine and the Basque Country since 2009. Safet has previously worked on an ERC-funded project into transitional justice in Bosnia and Spain and has taught at Goldsmiths and SOAS, University of London and Goethe University Frankfurt. He specialises in sacral landscapes, historicity and political agency of ‘nonhuman’ beings and ontological approaches to the question of home. He is the author of Waiting for Elijah: Time and Encounter in a Bosnian Landscape (2018).
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