Slovenian publications for women, at least those that I occasionally receive as daily journal inserts (I assume this is done in order to increase their sales), which speak to some very abstract glamorous audience, as a rule include a section in which animal shelters offer cats and dogs for adoption. These poor creatures usually bring out in me at least half an hour of whimpers and demands that we adopt a partner for my tomcat; reason prevails only after admitting that she would completely maul him should I bring her into the house. For a while now, this section has also included a separate column called “Dogs from Bosnia”. I guess the target population for such ads are the Slovenian “bleeding heart liberals”, as they are cruelly known in the American jargon – so let them establish if they can if these mutts suffered more than the local ones; because the common default assumption is that Bosnian dogs suffer more since they are forced to live in such a harsh society. Any kind of comparison seems preposterous: of course that in Slovenia Bosnian dogs enjoy greater rights, comfort and (naturally) love than foreign workers from the same region. A scene in which a mutt of most questionable origin leaps comfortably into someone’s living room couch is not hard to imagine: picturing this is so great that, despite all the hypocrisy, deceit, and doubtless grotesqueness, one really cannot but feel unbounded gratification.

Bosnia is symbol of contradiction: equally embedded in it are structural racism and structural guilt, only the latter is far less common. My traumatic perception of Bosnia (i.e. the Federation) has undoubtedly been influenced by my fascination with it as a child; although, anyone who has had a chance to see the destroyed houses from Brod to Doboj, or the barred-down National Museum in Sarajevo will likely be overwhelmed with a similar feeling. The last time I left Sarajevo I was overcome with tearful desperation all the way to Zenica. On a dazzling spring day, I decided to see the spring of the river Bosnia (Vrelo Bosne) in early morning hours, which meant not taking the nice and broad route leading to Mostar, the sea, and cats from Ston, but getting caught up in the Sarajevo traffic. On the overpass, a group of beggars approached the line of cars, among them a young Roma woman with two children. All other things aside, it reminded me of an identical scene I witnessed thirty years ago – a time when I knew that, if they needed it, the Roma beggars could have the guaranteed free health service, and that the only thing that could force the children out of school was their carefully implemented evasion strategy. Some things were simply guaranteed, despite other factors, such as society’s inherit racism towards the Roma population. But this is no longer so. Never before, as on that Sarajevo overpass, had it become clear to me that the world of people could survive only if one rebels against the world of non-people.

The most recent events have only confirmed my conviction. While the uprising in Slovenia had all the elements of a well implemented political action – which is its basic problem today, when the main objective is reached with the fall of both the government and the insufferable politician – in other places similar revolts took on a different form (primarily as a result of country-specific circumstances that have been influenced by current European policies). We in Slovenia got what we wanted – a new government that is implementing the same European policy, if not worse, of smothering the people with small but frequent blows. Therefore it seems that we have not defined our problem well. How the situation will develop in Greece and will the return of large numbers of citizens into the Neolithic age and the closure of public television motivate anyone else to take to the streets, remains to be seen. In Istanbul and Sarajevo, the people who endured unimaginable things rebelled because of a park and a baby. Neither the fall of the government or the departure of an obnoxious politician can help any longer – this requires nothing less than a radical social change. In the Sarajevo protest, which is closer to me because there are no large traditional left-wing parties as in Turkey, I can see a successful model of rebellion which instantly united all ethnic and social groups. A long time ago I thought that only minimal programs, such as those containing elements recognized by everyone as essential for the society, can be successful; however, this was a naive thought at a time when a person could debate and not feel guilty. But maybe today this is coming back to us as a reply of reality, and not of futile all-night debates. If we adopt Bosnia, there is hope for the rest of us.

Peščanik.net, 24.06.2013.


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Svetlana Slapšak
Svetlana Slapšak, rođena u Beogradu 1948, gde je završila klasičnu gimnaziju i doktorirala na Odeljenju za antičke studije na Filozofskom fakultetu. Pasoš joj je bio oduzet 1968-73, 1975-76. i 1988-89. Zaposlena u Institutu za književnost i umetnost 1972-88. Predsednica Odbora za slobodu izražavanja UKS 1986-89, sastavila i izdala preko 50 peticija, među njima i za oslobađanje Adema Demaćija. Bila članica UJDI-ja. Preselila se u Ljubljanu 1991, gde je redovna profesorka za antropologiju antičkih svetova, studije roda i balkanologiju (2002-14), koordinatorka studijskih programa i dekanka na ISH (2004-14). Glavna urednica časopisa ProFemina od 1994. Umetnička direktorka Srpskog kulturnoga centra Danilo Kiš i direktorka Instituta za balkanske i sredozemne studije i kulturu u Ljubljani. Predložena, u grupi Hiljadu žena za mir, za Nobelovu nagradu za mir 2005. Napisala je i uredila preko 70 knjiga i zbornika, oko 400 studija, preko 1.500 eseja, nekoliko romana, libreto za operu Julka i Janez, putopise, drame; prevodi sa grčkog, novogrčkog, latinskog, francuskog, engleskog i slovenačkog. Neke od novijih knjiga: Za antropologijo antičnih svetov (2000), Ženske ikone XX veka (2001), Ženske ikone antičkog sveta (2006), Mala crna haljina: eseji o antropologiji i feminizmu (2007), Mikra theatrika (2011), Antička miturgija: žene (2013), Zelje in spolnost (2013), Leteći pilav (2014), Kuhinja z razgledom (2015), Ravnoteža (2016), Preživeti i uživati: iz antropologije hrane. Eseji i recepti (2016), Kupusara. Ogledi iz istorijske antropologije hrane i seksualnosti (2016), Škola za delikatne ljubavnike (2018), Muške ikone antičkog sveta (2018). Dobitnica nagrada Miloš Crnjanski za knjigu eseja 1990, American PEN Award 1993, Helsinki Watch Award 2000, Helen Award, Montreal 2001, nagrade Mirko Kovač za knjigu eseja 2015, nagrade Mira ženskog odbora PEN-a Slovenije 2016, Vitalove nagrade Zlatni suncokret 2017.
Svetlana Slapšak

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