I had the privilege this week of attending several lectures with the NYU Center for Global Affairs.’ The students have been visiting Sarajevo to learn more about the history of BiH, legal and transitional issues, human rights and the future of BiH. To say people are optimistic about the future of BiH would be a large overstatement. I saw a total of four lectures, each one slightly more optimistic than the last. One of the law professors stated, “I am not an optomist, I am a pessimist. BiH is a complete disaster and this is a failed state.” However, I felt more optimistic and inspired but the resilience of this country as the day went on. The last lecture ended with Dr. Sabina Cehajic-Clancy, a Bosnian Social Psychologist that teaches at the Sarajevo School of Technology. Dr. Sabina talked about peace-building in post-conflict situations, intergroup reconciliation restoration and future initiatives in BiH. Although reconciliation restoration is extremely difficult in this society, the most promising social outcome for BiH lies in intergroup contact theory. Research has proven that perceptions of other general groups changes for the better when members of different groups have basic, frequent quality contact with one another. Dr. Sabina concentrates most of her research on intergroup reconciliation with rural high school in BiH. However, when Dr. Sabina evaluated before, during, and after perceptions of inter-group contact, general perceptions of other groups actually got worse in B-Hi. The immediate affects of contact actually scored higher nationalism, less empathy and trust with one another. After contemplating why this basic social theory didn’t work in Bi-H, the Post-Conflict Research Center had an idea to create a project called Ordinary Hero’s, which exhibits examples of moral rescuer narratives from the other perspective or group. She believes that hope lies in the youth of BiH because they are not as entrenched in labels or nationalism as other generations before them were. Dr. Sabina’s research “Gives her hope because the current issues are not actually between people, they are about politics and other external factors. People need little to shift generalizations of other people”.
I have attached a link to The Science of Hatred and more on her work