Tamara Šmidling


Current living place:
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tamara Šmidling

Programme Coordinator - Peace Academy Foundation, Sarajevo

  • Former activities:

    Over 10 years in Centre for Non-violent Action Sarajevo/Beograd.

  • My organization:
    A Peace Academy idea was born in 2006, within the group of activists gathered, in Sarajevo, around the advanced peace related education initiative for interested candidates from the former Yugoslavia countries. The first Summer School was a organised in 2008, and the Academy was registered in 2010. Our main objective is to consolidate peace building theories and practices, and to critically review the phenomena related to the peace building process.

  • Examples of concrete activities I have organized/am organizing in the field of “dealing with the past”:
    • Commemoration culture and dealing with the past is one of the main programme focuses of the Peace Academy. During the five years we organized Summer Schools and offered 6, nine-day seminars dealing with this issue, discussing about it from different perspectives and with different focal points.
    • I prepared and ran series of trainings and workshops on dealing with the past (with young people; soldiers; activists, journalists, etc.)
    • I studied oral history methods and I am co-editors of the book “Slike tih vremena”
    • I am also co-author of the manual “Pomirenje!?” about dealing with the past

  • Concrete challenges I am facing in my “dealing with the past”-related work:
    • Lack of the state, institutional and political support for work in this area.
    • Simplified and generally accepted „explanations“ of the past events where „we“ are always victims, whereas „our“ crimes are not discussed at all. Such „explanations“ are used to justify current situation of division and segregation, and represent a shelter from serious and in depth treatment of these problems.
    • The permanent tension between dealing with the past and normalisation of relations; and tension between work in area of dealing with the past and reconciliation.

  • My personal link to/interest for the topic of “dealing with difficult pasts”:
    Interest for this area is manifold and comes both from personal motivation and professional interest. My family history directed me a great deal towards this area of research, and decision to move from Belgrade to Sarajevo only intensified importance and inevitability of these topics in my life. Study of Anthropology and Ethnology only contributed to level of interest for ways in which certain communities and smaller groups (families) create narratives about own past. Finally, love for history and politics added a crucial “spice” and made me see personal engagement in this area as political and necessary one.