Referendum Discourse in Republic of Srpska Politics 2006-2008: An Analysis of its Emergence and Performative Structure

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Virginia Tech


Nationalist discourse has played an important role in the breakup of Yugoslavia, with particularly extensive influence on the future of the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The tensions raised by ethno-nationalist rhetoric would lead to a 1992-1995 War that effectively segregated the population of Bosnia into three ethnic camps and destroyed the country's trademark multiculturalism. Bosnia emerged from the war as a weak union of two ethno-territories; the Bosniak-Croat Federation (FBiH) and the Serb-dominated Republic of Srpska (RS). During the first post-war decade, it made considerable progress towards reconciliation and Euro-Atlantic integrations.

However, in May of 2006 the Prime Minister of RS Milorad Dodik made first of a series of comments that advocated the right of RS to hold independence referendum, signalizing a major return of inflammatory and divisive ethno-nationalist rhetoric. What we can call "RS Referendum Discourse" is not exactly a new object or desire, but its articulation and expression from 2006 onwards deserves careful consideration on its own merits. This thesis seeks to document the emergence and performative structure of the RS Referendum Discourse through a textual analysis of how it was registered and recorded in two Bosnian daily newspapers. The research is an empirical study of nationalism as expressed in discourse on the future of the Bosnian state.



discourse, Bosnia and Herzegovina, referendum, republika srpska, Montenegro, Kosovo, Milorad Dodik