The road to Srebrenica: Automobility and belonging in a post-socialist/war milieu

  • Andrew Dawson
Keywords: automobility, nationalism, post-socialism, post-war, Bosnia


In this passenger-seat ethnography, I chart and explain the rise of hyper-automobility in post-socialist and post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, I explore how automobility enables the production of ideas of home that involve (re-)scripting Bosnia’s dominant modes of identification. Firstly, I argue, in the face of growing pressure for categorical ethno-national identification, the restricted nature of automobile communication and the specific conditions of Bosnia’s automobile system enable non-national and pan-Bosnian senses of belonging and communality to be perpetuated through driving. Secondly, I argue, the comforting familiarities of car, road and the pan-Bosnian “society of traffic” enable a perambulatory approach to driving. In this respect, the disposition of the driver is much like that of the flâneur. Just as s/he was sensuously attuned to capitalism’s and modernity’s manifestations in the streetscape of nineteenth century Paris, Bosnia’s drivers are often similarly attuned to the newly ethno-nationalised and otherwise de-familiarised landscapes through which they pass. This experience, I argue, provides an occasion for the (re-)scripting of antithetical ethno-national and pan-Bosnian belonging into senses of a benign multiculturalism.