Bosnian Women and Social Reconstruction: Reweaving the Social Fabric


Nguyen-Gillham, Viet Q. 1999. "Bosnian Women and Social Reconstruction: Reweaving the Social Fabric." PhD diss., Boston University.

Author: Viet Q. Nguyen-Gillham


The dissertation explores the process of social reconstruction by women in a Bosnian community. It looks at how Bosnian women ''pick up the pieces'' of their lives in the aftermath of a three and a half year war. The focus is on women''s practices and survival strategies, and their roles as reconstructing agents in postwar development. In previous research, the process of social reconstruction is often framed as reweaving the ''social fabric of a society in the aftermath of war.'' The dissertation reexamines the metaphor to (re)cover what constitutes the reweaving and the substantive threads of the ''social fabric.'' In the literature on postwar reconstruction, the dominant emphasis on political and physical rehabilitation has led to a marginalization of social reconstruction; it has received little attention within social theory and humanitarian research. The question of how and in what ways war survivors recreate a new universe is often left unanswered by researchers and policymakers. In the dissertation, I propose a sociological reframing of social reconstruction that puts women at the center of analysis. In contrast to macro-focused rehabilitation, social reconstruction is reinterpreted as a socially and culturally constructed process grounded in the local and everyday practices of war-affected women. The study shows that undergirding the concept of social reconstruction is the organizing principle of practice: to recreate a new life is to be engaged in a matrix of concrete actions and daily accomplishments. Women''s experiences of social reconstruction are not only shaped by their lived realities and material conditions, they are situated firmly within an economy of social life. A recasting of social reconstruction interweaves the practices of women within a web of social relations that traverses both private and public spaces. To examine the issues, I conducted ethnographic research in Bosnia and analyzed the interview and questionnaire data using a grounded theory method. In the present political climate, the issue of social reconstruction can no longer be ignored by humanitarian policymakers. The dissertation explores both the treatment of war survivors by the international community and the policies of the humanitarian industry in its care of war-affected women.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 1999

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