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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 76-87

Psychosocial peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina: approaches to relational and social change

1 professor of Trauma, Identity and Conflict Studies in the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at the Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA., USA
2 social worker and Project Officer at Catholic Relief Services in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Ethnic and religious divisions were primary, significant factors in the cause and escalation of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These issues remained highly volatile in the immediate post war process and continue to impact current social, economic and political systems and structures. Psychosocial peacebuilding theory and practices are important means to facilitate social and relational change, and help people move toward reconciliation and social action. The authors present cases that examine these issues, within the Bosnian context, addressing the importance of psychosocial trauma recovery, problem solving and confidence building workshops, as well as provision of safe spaces where war and social narratives can be shared, and healing and attitudinal shifts begin to take place. In this article, psychosocial, trauma informed, peacebuilding processes are shown to provide insight into the importance of integrating emotional, psychological and identity factors (inherent within complex and ongoing conflicts) with economic development and actions for political change. Both are necessary for individual and collective healing and creating new relational, social narratives and structures.

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