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This conclusion combines insights from the analysed of urban conflicts over peace(s) to answer the principal research question. The subsequent argument is that the postwar city reinforces rather than transcends its continuities of war into peace because urban conflicts over peace(s) attack its transcending potential and enhance its destructive potential while the city itself—untouched by postwar contestation—is destructive towards war-to-peace transitions. Yet the chapter also focuses on complementary explanations such as the routinisation of division and the impossibility to combine certain peace(s). It additionally presents an alternative picture of the postwar city by demonstrating that it also transcends its continuities of war in peace. The wider conclusions drawn from this ambiguity is that the postwar city is inherently Janus-faced, that it has a significant transcending potential, that there are no easy solutions to its problems, and that its unique situation necessitates cooperation between peace research and urban studies.
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The city’s complexity, the focus on multiple postwar cities, the diversity of analysed urban conflicts over peace(s), and the three different theoretical entry points make any exhaustive overview both overwhelming and repetitive. This last chapter should therefore be read as general theoretical claims underpinned by empirical illustrations.
This refers to homogeneity of groups important within any given urban conflict over peace(s)—i.e. “us” and “them” (whoever these are). In Belfast, Mitrovica, and Mostar the focus is primarily on ethnonational homogeneity.
The barricades, walls, and checkpoints along Ibar are quite symbolic while Mostar is easily zig-zagged both by foot and car.
While density also is central to mixing, I have not found any evidence that urban conflicts over peace(s) undermine density.
This lack of accommodation also makes Belfast’s housing market Kafkaesque. NIHE is namely struggling to find housing for people and tearing down houses just blocks away from those that need them. The demographic trajectories in Belfast (with the younger Catholic population accenting and the older Protestant population declining) mean that it is primarily Catholics who need housing whilst the majority of empty houses are in areas where Protestants live. Yet since the ethnonational geography means that Catholics are unwilling to move “there” while Protestants are equally reluctant to accommodate “them”, Belfast effectively has two housing markets—one where housing need prevails and one where houses are torn down because there is “no one” to live in them (interview with NIHE official 2015).
While most Serbs live south of Ibar, they do so in isolated enclaves scattered across the territory. Mitrovica in contrast has the largest concentration of Serbs in Kosovo.
While Serbs south of Ibar do have Belgrade-funded schools (primary and secondary), healthcare centres, and social benefits, everything “advanced” is located in Mitrovica.
For Albanians, higher education, advanced healthcare, and more employment is concentrated to the capital Pristina (42 kilometres south or about an hour bus ride away).
Almost every person I spoke with (that resented division) claimed that division had become normal, something that one does not reflect upon.
And—increasingly—for people from the Republic of Ireland, the UK, and beyond.
All four cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina larger than Mostar—Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Zenica—are demographically monoethnic (of these, Tuzla is the most “multiethnic” one with its 72% Bosniaks). Mostar, however, has around 47,000 Bosniaks, 51,000 Croats, and 4500 Serbs. There are additionally around 3500 people that are undeclared or declared as “Other” (Agencija za statistiku Bosne i Hercegovine 2016, 56–67).
The postwar city’s significant potential to transcend continuities of war in peace additionally means that this need cannot be overstressed.
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- Chapter 7
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