9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN11 Sociology of Emotions

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Emotions in States at War Building II, C6.06

Emotions and Ethnicity: Hurt Identities in a Post-War-Society

Focusing on the analysis of social relations in post-war-societies, emotions seem to play an important role. Hatred, fear, grief, guilt, honor and dishonor as well as pride and shame are not merely symptomatic emotions in times of war, but also in the transformation processes of post-war times.
In an empirical study, I am investigating the (social) construction of "self" and of "others" in post-war societies. The analysis is centered on Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the war in this former Yugoslavian republic, the conflicting parties constructed identities which were characterized by intensive and powerful ethnic in-group/out-group differentiations. These differentiations - as one central outcome of ethnic mobilization - comprise specific emotional bonds to and within the in-group - like sympathy, pride, solidarity, etc. In contrast, hatred, fear, and mistrust are characteristic for the social relations between in-group and out-group.
However, after the end of war, actors were confronted with an entirely novel situation: New normative standards that rigorously delegitimize ethnic mobilization were induced by a third party - the international community. Because of this newly introduced set of normative standards and the fact that conflicting parties have to continue living together in one nation state beyond their own ethnic community, they are forced to perform new definitions of ethnic boundaries, i.e. a new "definition of the situation".
An initial analysis of the data I collected suggests that such transformation processes have specific emotional qualities and impacts, which I explore in more detail in this contribution. The central themes of my investigation revolve around the interrelation of particular cognitions ("patterns of interpretation") and emotions, the link between identity and emotion, and the relation between "collectives" ("collective identity") and emotions. More specifically, I am concerned with the antecedents and experiences of guilt and shame, with the role of pride and honor, and with the question whether the intervention of the international/european community is experienced as a kind of humiliation.