The state-building processes of the Western Balkans reveal that the construction of the state is often a contested and fluid process. Zooming in on the post-war space of Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH) we can study three clashing state-building projects and the interplay between war making, peace making and state making. By focusing on the ‘becoming’ of a state the continuities of state building are revealed. Conceptually, this chapter explores how states are socially constructed spaces, imagined and performed by those who perceive themselves as belonging to that state. Empirically, it investigates the state-building processes of Republika Srpska (RS) and Herceg-Bosna undertaken in parallel with the state building of BiH. It taps into the debate on the immaterial and material dimensions of state building and asks, through what imaginaries and performative practices does a state come into being? This sharpens our eyes to the imaginary quality of every state.
Annika Björkdahl and Stefanie Kappler
This chapter investigates statebuilding as a spatial process. It suggests that we can understand the emergence of new states as a process that emerges from processes of place-making and space-making, with a material and symbolic dimension to it. We argue that when place-making and space-making are taking place in parallel, statebuilding can be successful for those actors who have a stake in it. Referring to the case studies of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as Kosovo, we show that the processes of place-making and space-making need to stretch across different political scales in order to generate the recognition at both domestic and international levels that the statebuilding process requires. Whilst Kosovo has managed to obtain political recognition specifically at the international scale, Republika Srpska’s recognition has largely remained restricted to its domestic audience.