Now at every good bookseller

15141Warning: This blog post contains material promoting my new book.

Guilt, Responsibility and Denial: The Past at Stake in Post-Milošević Serbia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

It has taken a long time, but the book is finally out! This means that if you order a copy you will actually receive a book as opposed to receiving a promise of a book in the future.

A funny thing: although most people will probably agree that predicting the future is not really a goal of social science, I did make one prediction in the book (a really easy one!) that turned out to be true:

…a situation that is ongoing can change unexpectedly. Some events that took place while the research was ongoing compelled me to revise the entire manuscript and research plan. They changed again between the time the manuscript was submitted and production of the book began, and will have changed again by the time the book reaches the reader’s hands.

To put that into context — the completed manuscript was sent to the publisher in July 2011. I made some revisions after that, mostly shortening the text and responding to suggestions from the reviewers, but made the decision not to revise continually to make the final product up to the minute, mostly because that would have been an impossible task. But I do remember watching, together with my students in beautiful Forlí, the live broadcast of the trial chamber’s judgment in the “Operation Storm” case in April 2011, and putting the details into the footnotes of Chapters 6 and 7 just as the judge was reading them out. That day I revised intensively to account for the new facts, continuing after the security person came by to tell me I had to leave my office because they were closing the building for the night. I could not have guessed at the time that the conviction in that case, like in the Momčilo Perišić case, would be reversed on appeal. And I certainly would not have guessed that the reversal would lead to a mini-rebellion in the judicial chambers or that one odd letter would inspire a fascinating crop of conspiracy theorists.

Hey, I’m just a simple country sociologist, not a Balkan prophet.

Still, here’s the basic argument of the book: the prospect of a large-scale confrontation with the violent legacy of the 1990s was always a difficult one, and what would have made it possible were sustained processes in which the public was well informed, engaged, and encouraged to participate. There were a whole lot of reasons why that did not happen, from structural to political ones, but many fascinating and partial things happened instead. I don’t think that any of the surprising things that happened at ICTY during the last year did much to undermine the applicability of that argument. If I were ambitious I might even argue that they strengthened it.

With any luck this year will mark a moment when people doing social research will have a lot to say about public memory in the region. I discussed some recent research in another post. But 2013 really has a bumper crop. There’s this one from Hariz Halilović, this one from Jelena Obradović.  In December there will be a new one from Elissa Helms. The discussion that was confined to lawyers and IR folks could be opening up, and that can only be a good thing.

Here comes the hardsell promotional bit:

A little bit of material, the table of contents and the preface, is available for preview here.

There is a page on Facebook which you are welcome to join for reviews, news, announcement of talks and other events.

The edition that is out is a hardcover edition — depending on how much interest it generates a paperback should be available before too long at a much lower price. So what to do about prices? One option is to order the book directly from the publisher. If you enter the promotional code P5P9 you will get a 20% discount. People in the UK might get an even better deal from The Book Depository which is offering it at a 24% discount. These are the best price deals I know about for now.

Ways to save even more money? If you ask your library to order it then they will spend money instead of you, and more people will get the chance to read it. If you are an instructor wanting to use it for a course or a reviewer who wants to say (maybe) nice things about it, you can request copies from the publisher (they ask you to pay a small amount for shipping).


East Ethnia has a comments policy

You might say that it would be better to put up some content to comment on before posting a comments policy. But then, why not set the framework first? One of the things that bothered me a little bit on the previous blog, where I did not moderate comments, was that the kind of discussion I hoped to encourage did not happen very often. This meant that much of the time I hoped to spend in exchange with people (some of whom, naturally, would agree with me and some of whom would disagree) got spent instead on irrelevant comments, weird racists and other ists, stalkers, and repeated posters of wonderful findings about the Second World War. If that happens again, I expect I will lose interest in blogging again fairly quickly. So I have put up some guidelines. They are meant to be constructive and not overly threatening, and if they have the desired effect then they will encourage people who want to discuss to join in, and people who want some other thing to bugger off.


Go east, young man

The first East Ethnia ran for about four years on Blogspot between 2004 and 2008. Then I got a bit too busy and a little bored with it. The old archive is still there if anyone is terribly curious.

Being blogless for three years was just fine, actually. I became accustomed to living in this very odd country. I finished a book. I spent much time with my family and dog, and sadly also much time dealing with such exciting things as banks and landlords. But at the same time, there were a few things that motivated me to try again. Those were:

1) Nobody else was really providing the things that I thought East Ethnia could provide. Not that there are not a lot of fine sites out there (one day I will complete the links page and you can see what they are), but none with just those concerns, at least in English.

2) I like to make remarks about things! The social networks offer a nice way of doing this, but they do not allow for the kind of flexibility that an independent site does.

3) Occasionally friends would tell me about something they had read and then say, as if to tell me something, ‘this is the sort of thing that would really belong on East Ethnia’.

But I think I will try to do things not just the same way. I will be trying to keep a focus on a particular set of topics here, and keep the music videos, jokes and such things on the social networks. Posting will also not be extremely frequent; expect a couple posts a week rather than a couple posts a day. And I will be trying to add some features, so that this can become a site where people can find out about upcoming events, at least in this fair city.

Oh, and one other change: I will be moderating comments this time around. It may just be a way of creating more work for myself (read: wasting more time) but I think it is the only way to get the kind of discussion I want to have rather than a free for all. When I get around to writing a ‘comments policy’ it will be in the ‘about the blog’ section (look above).

So, real content will be coming soon. In the meantime, everything is under construction but feel free to have a look around. And especially now as the site is in its (new) beginnings, I will be grateful for your suggestions, advice and demands.