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Being Bosnian: Identities after the War

A series of presentations and discussions co-hosted by the Bosnia Memory Project and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fontbonne University

6800 Wydown Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63105


  • Dr. Esad Boškailo, co-author of Wounded I am More Awake: Finding Meaning after Terror
  • Dr. Amila Buturović, author of Stone Speakers: Medieval Tombs, Landscape, and Nationhood in the Poetry of Mak Dizdar
  • Aleksandar Hemon, author of The Book of My Lives and other books
  • Refik Hodžić, Director of Communications for the International Center for Transitional Justice
  • Patrick McCarthy, author of After the Fall: Srebrenica Survivors in St. Louis


Twenty-one years—a generation—after the start of the war and genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the questions surrounding Bosnian cultural and national identities remain unresolved –especially in diaspora communities around the world, where older Bosnians bear the memories of trauma and younger Bosnians live separated from their heritage. 

Please join us for two days of presentations and discussions as we collectively address the complex questions of Bosnian identities as they pertain to Bosnia-Herzegovina and to the Bosnian diaspora.  This symposium represents a unique opportunity for open exchange with writers and scholars who have shaped current conversations about Bosnian identities. 

This event is free and open to the public.  Due to limited seating, advance notice of attendance is strongly encouraged. Reservation requests can be sent by e-mail (bmoore@fontbonne.edu) or by phone message (314-889-4553). 

Books will be made available for purchase at the symposium by Left Bank Books, an independent bookstore in St. Louis. 

This symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Fontbonne Community Connection and the Missouri Humanities Council.  Additional support is provided by the Fontbonne University Honors Program. 

For more information, contact Dr. Ben Moore at 314-889-4553 or bmoore@fontbonne.edu.

Friday, April 12

4:00 p.m.:              Welcome by Dr. Benjamin Moore, Director of the Bosnia Memory Project at Fontbonne University.

4:15 p.m.:              Bosnia-Herzegovina at Twenty-one: Recovering Pluralism.  A panel discussion featuring Dr. Esad Boškailo, Dr. Amila Buturović, Aleksandar Hemon, and Refik Hodžić; moderated by Patrick McCarthy.

6:00 p.m.:              Open reception.  Public invited.  Refreshments will be served. 

7:00 p.m.:              Reading/presentation by Aleksandar Hemon.  Discussion to follow.  (This event will be the St. Louis launch of The Book of My Lives, which will be released on March 19, 2013.)

                                  Introduction by Zenija Halilović.


Saturday, April 13

11:00 a.m.:            The Bosnian Diaspora at Twenty-One: Narratives, Memories, Identities.  A panel discussion featuring Dr. Esad Boškailo, Dr. Amila Buturović, Aleksandar Hemon, and Refik Hodžić; moderated by Patrick McCarthy.

1:00 p.m.:              Break for lunch. 

3:00 p.m.:              Reading/presentation by Dr. Amila Buturović.  Discussion to follow. 

                                  Introduction by Ena Selimović.

5:00 p.m.:              Informal conversation and networking.  Public invited.  Light refreshments will be served. 

6:00 p.m.:              Reading/presentation by Dr. Esad Boškailo, co-author of Wounded I Am More Awake: Finding Meaning after Terror (Vanderbilt University Press, 2012).

                                  Introduction by Vedad Karahodžić.

Featured Guests

Dr. Esad Boškailo is a survivor of six concentration camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina and co-author with Julia Lieblich of Wounded I Am More Awake: Finding Meaning after Terror (Vanderbilt University Press, 2012).  Linking Boškailo’s experiences during the Bosnian genocide with his recent practice of psychiatry in the United States, Wounded I am More Awake “raises questions for healers, survivors, and readers striving to understand the reality of war and the aftermath of terror” and offers “powerful new lessons for healing in an age of genocide.” The Chicago Tribune calls the book “a clear-eyed gem of a memoir with a message far beyond one man's experience. . . . Boškailo's courage and empathy help us imagine how it is possible to transcend the worst sufferings one human can impose on another."  Esad Boškailo is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix and Associate Director of Psychiatric Residency Training at the Maricopa Integrated Health System. 

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Amila Buturović is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Humanities at York University in Toronto.  She has also held visiting appointments at Haverford College and the University of Toronto.  A specialist in Islamic studies with interests in the nature of collective memory, Dr. Buturović is author of Stone Speakers: Medieval Tombs, Landscape, and Nationhood in the Poetry of Mak Dizdar (Macmillan, 2002).  Stone Speakers has earned praise as “a brilliant portrait of a great poet, a moving exploration of Bosnian culture, and a multi-disciplinary illumination of issues of individual and group identity."  The book is “superb,” writes poet and scholar Ammiel Alcalay; it “promises to be relevant far beyond the scope of its purported field.”  Buturović is also author of Osmanli Doneminde Balkan Kadinlar (Bilgi University Press, 2009) and co-editor, with Irvin Cemil Schick, of Women in the Ottoman Balkans: Gender, Culture and History (Tauris: 2007).  In 2012, Buturović edited a special issue of the Canadian literary journal Descant, titled “Bosnia-Herzegovina: Between Loss and Recovery.”

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Aleksandar Hemon is an award winning Bosnian-American fiction writer who has been called by the New York Times “an extraordinary writer: one who seems not simply gifted but necessary.”  Hemon’s first volume of nonfiction, The Book of My Lives (Farrar, Straus and Giroux , 2013), will be released March 19, 2013.  John Freeman, writing for The Guardian, calls the book “an effort to restore the fragile memories of his Sarajevo and follow the threads that link his Bosnian past to his American present.  Hemon’s books of short stories include Love and Obstacles (Penguin, 2009), Nowhere Man (Doubleday, 2002), and The Question of Bruno: Stories (Doubleday, 2000). His novel The Lazarus Project (Riverhead Books, 2008) was a New York Times Notable Book and New York magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year.  His non-fiction work appears frequently in The New Yorker and the New York Times.  In 2004, Hemon was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Refik Hodžić was born in Prijedor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and now lives in New York City.  As a filmmaker, journalist, and communications specialist, he has devoted his career to promoting human rights in countries and regions marred by conflict.  Prior to joining the UN in 1998, Hodžić worked as a journalist in Sanski Most and co-founded an independent magazine Novo Ogledalo and a radio station Radio Free Prijedor. He served with UN missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and East Timor before joining the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia where he worked as outreach coordinator and the spokesman. In 2004 in Sarajevo, Mr.Hodžić co-founded XY Films, which produced documentary films and television programs about war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.  He worked as part of the team which established the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, headed its Public Information and Outreach section and later consulted for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, assisting with the Tribunal’s outreach strategy.  In 2011, Mr. Hodžić joined the International Center for Transitional Justice, where he serves as Director of Communications.

Patrick McCarthy has worked with St. Louis’s Bosnian community since 1993.  In 1994, he traveled to wartime Sarajevo and founded the St. Louis Bosnian Student Project, which located scholarships for Bosnian student refugees.  He is author of After the Fall: Srebrenica Survivors in St. Louis (Missouri Historical Society Press, 2000), a Chicago Tribune Editor's Choice selection.  Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Coles called After the Fall "an extraordinary documentary work, done with great thoughtfulness and with a moral energy that ought give all of us plenty to consider -- a book has become a collective witness, on the record, of humanity as it struggles against terrible odds to endure."  Mr. McCarthy, who is Director of the Medical Library at St. Louis University and a board member of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is also advisor to the traveling exhibit Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide. 

Introducing the Featured Guests

Zenija Halilović (introducing Aleksandar Hemon) was born April 7, 1976, in Zvornik, Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Her father, a mechanical technician, died in 1984; her mother worked as an accountant.  On her sixteenth birthday, Zenija fled to Serbia with her mother and older brother, in the midst of attacks on Zvornik by Serb extremists that resulted in the killing or expulsion of some 40,000 Muslim residents.  Two weeks later, Zenija and her family fled again to Germany, where she completed high school and began college.  In 1997, Ms. Halilović moved with her mother to St. Louis, where she completed a B.S. in civil engineering through Washington University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  An avid reader with special interests in Yugoslav and Bosnian fiction, Ms. Halilović has worked for seven years as a civil engineer for St. Louis County. 

Vedad Karahodžić (introducing Dr. Esad Boškailo) was born November 11, 1992, in Prijedor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, some six months after the start of genocide in Prijedor.  In 1993, his mother and father, who were both physicians, fled with Vedad to Croatia; they were among  approximately 50,000 residents who were “ethnically cleansed” from Prijedor.  On May 15, 1995, Vedad and his family arrived in St. Louis, where his brother was born and where his parents began the long process of establishing a medical practice that would help to serve St. Louis’s growing Bosnian refugee community.  Now in his second year of undergraduate study at Washington University, Mr. Karahodžić  majors in biology and, as team president, leads Washington University’s championship water polo team.  Mr. Karahodžić plans to become an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in treating athletes. 

Ena Selimović  (introducing Dr. Amila Buturović) was born  September 4, 1990, in Belgrade, Serbia, to Bosnian parents.  Her father was a fighter pilot in the Yugoslav army, and her mother taught high school biology.  In the summer of 1992, after receiving death threats, Selimović  family fled to Turkey, where they lived for nearly six years.  On February 26, 1998, Ena, her older brother, and her parents arrived in St. Louis.  In 2012, Ms. Selimović completed her B.A. in English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with internships at the International Institute, Channel  9 Network, and Fontbonne’s Bosnia Memory Project.  She is currently completing her M.Phil. in Comparative Literature at Trinity College in Dublin; her master’s thesis explores “lingual exile” in ex-Yugoslav diaspora literature, focusing on the writings of Aleksandar Hemon, Ismet Prcic, and Dubravka Ugrešić.


Printable PDF (pdf, 372.49KB)

Survival in Sarajevo Press Release (pdf, 127.45KB)

April 2012, marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo and the beginning of the war and genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A series of programs is scheduled throughout the year in the St. Louis area to commemorate this important anniversary.  Below are details regarding the first five events, which will take place during the first three weeks of April; these events center on the exhibit Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Muslims, Serbs, And Croats Working Together During the Bosnian War 1992-1995.  This exhibit was developed by Centropa and is co-sponsored by Fontbonne University's Bosnia Memory Project, the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, the Congregation Neve Shalom, The Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, Sabah Newspaper, and KETC Channel 9.


SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2:00 P.M.                                                                                                                 OPENING RECEPTION FOR THE EXHIBIT SURVIVING SARAJEVO: JEWS, MUSLIMS, SERBS, AND CROATS WORKING TOGETHER DURING THE BOSNIAN WAR 1992-1995                                                                                      Premier showing of the exhibit, which will be touring the United States for the coming year. The nine two-sided displays of photographs and text chronicle the history of religious and ethnic cooperation during wartime.  Special guests at the opening reception will include Joshua M. Fogelson of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and survivors of the siege of Sarajevo.  Jack C. Taylor Library at Fontbonne University, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63105.  For information, please contact: Dr. Ben Moore, 314-889-4553; bmoore@fontbonne.edu.

WEDNESDAY, April 4, 7:00 P.M.                                                                                                         Benefit Concert for the Exhibit Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Muslims, Serbs, and Croats Working Together During the Bosnian War, 1992-1995
Rabbi James Stone Goodman (www.stonegoodman.com/) and Brothers Lazaroff (www.brotherslazaroff.com/) reveal the hidden secrets of the Sarajevo Hagaddah—“the book that saved a world.” Covenant House Apartments, 10 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146.  Suggested minimum donation: $10.

FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 6:00 P.M.
REMEMBERING SARAJEVO 20 Years After the Beginning of the Siege
Bosnian journalists Sukrija and Ertana Dzidzovic speak about their experiences in Sarajevo during that period and show Sukrija’s extraordinary wartime photographs. Their presentation will be followed by a  lecture “Life in Sarajevo Today” by Dr. Rita Csapó-Sweet, Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, 4457 Gravois Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63116.

SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 3:00 P.M.
CONCERT: THE LOST JEWISH WORLD OF SARAJEVO                                                                                     Featuring Rabbi James Stone Goodman (www.stonegoodman.com/).
  Jack C. Taylor Library at Fontbonne University, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63105.  For information please contact Dr. Ben Moore, 314-889-4553, bmoore@fontbonne.edu.                                                                                                                                                    

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 7:00 P.M.                                                                                                      FROM ST. LOUIS TO SARAJEVO: HADASSAH'S RESPONSE TO WAR AND GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINIA                                                                                                                                         Please join us for a lecture and slide presentation by Elsie Roth, RN, MSN, leader of Hadassah's relief effort in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1993, 1994, and 1995, Ms. Roth repeatedly visited the besieged city of Sarajevo to deliver relief supplies and meet with Sarajevans in all walks of life.  Jack C. Taylor Library at Fontbonne University, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63105.  For information please contact Dr. Ben Moore, 314-889-4553, bmoore@fontbonne.edu.



November 19 and 21, 2011 - Bosnian Author Ismet Prcic book launch event Shards (pdf, 1.75MB)

October 12, 2011 - New Course offered


September 25, 2011 - Advance Screening of the PBS documentary I Came to Testify


 September 15-17, 2011 - BHAAAS Annual Meeting

April 26, 2011 - Bosnia After Genocide