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Bosnian Studies

Guide on Bosnia and Bosnian Studies for students, faculty, and staff at Washington University

Free Concert of Bosnia Music - March 3, 2014

On Tuesday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m., a free performance entitled Bosnian Journeys: Generations will take place in Washington University's Edison Theatre. Doors open at 7 p.m., and no tickets or reservations are required.


Photo: Wayne Crosslin, International Institute

Produced in collaboration with the Bosnian Memory Project, this powerful concert, which features musicians from the St. Louis Symphony, weaves personal narrative with Sevdah, the folk music tradition of Bosnia, to tell the stories of our Bosnian neighbors in St. Louis. The concert includes a performance of Albinoni's Adagio in G minor, the work that Vedran Smailovic, "the Cellist of Sarajevo," played at multiple sites of destruction during the siege of Sarajevo, to honor those who lost their lives. 

A pre-concert reception featuring traditional Bosnian cuisine will be held at 6:30 p.m. At the Schoenberg Gallery in Mallinckrodt Center. The reception is sponsored by the Arts & Sciences Connections Series. If you plan to attend, register at or email

St. Louis Bosnian Community of 60,000 - the largest outside Bosnia


Uma Alickovic, owner of Coffee Bolero, brings dinner to patrons on Friday, June 7, 2013. For 11 years, Alickovic has owned the restaurant on Gravois Avenue near the Bevo Mill in the area known as "Little Bosnia." Bosnian immigrants have helped revitalize the area. Photo by Laurie Skrivan,

Bosnians in St. Louis: Reflection 20 years after start of war

The Bosnian war created a flood of refugees, who wound up in Western Europe and the United States. The U.S. State Department helped thousands of Bosnian refugees settle in St. Louis, where they helped revive parts of south St. Louis.

It’s easy to depict the resettlement of Bosnians in St. Louis – predominantly Bosnian Muslims, called Bosniaks, but also Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs, all fleeing war – as a prototypical American success story. In less than two decades, refugees who arrived with proverbial pennies in their pockets have bought cars, then homes, seen their children graduate from American high schools, then colleges.

In less than a generation, Bosnian-St. Louisans have become doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, bankers, professors, tech specialists, entrepreneurs. They have buoyed the population of the city of St. Louis, improved the safety of their neighborhoods, built three mosques, formed a Chamber of Commerce, cracked the code of American capitalism, and plugged into an international network of Bosnian media and Bosnian culture in diaspora.

In this sense, anyway, many Bosnian-St. Louisans have achieved what must have seemed impossible 20 years ago: to live “normal” lives.

It’s easy to tell the story this way (in no small part because it’s true), but there are other versions, too, as many, clichéd as it sounds, as there are Bosnians to tell them. Click here for entire article. -- Sanchez, Margaux Wexberg. "Bosnians in St. Louis: Reflection Twenty Years After Start of War".  The Beacon. 6 Apr. 2012. Web. Feb. 27, 2015.


Seated from left right, Dino Didovic and Denis Mujankic grab a drink on Friday, June 7, 2013, at the Lucky Duck bar and restaurant in St. Louis. Didovic's father opened the bar in 2000. It is one of several Bosnian business located in "Little Bosnia" area in Bevo Mill. Photo by Laurie Skrivan,






Early history (up to 1992)

A heterogeneous country consisting of Bosnia in the north and Hercegovina in the south, whose population is divided into  Muslims (around 40 per cent), Orthodox Serbs (32 per cent), Roman Catholic Croats (18 per cent), as well as a host of ethnic minorities, mainly Montenegrines, Albanians, and Slovenes. Bosnia and Hercegovina were united in 1580 as part of the Ottoman Empire. As the Ottoman hold over the Balkans progressively weakened, the territory came under the administration of Austria‐Hungary in 1875–8, and was annexed by Austria in 1908. The annexation by Roman Catholic Austria was widely resented. One of the new organizations opposed to Austrian rule, ‘Young Bosnia’, participated in the Sarajevo assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914.

The territory became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes after 1918, which in 1929 became Yugoslavia. During the years of German and Italian occupation in World War II it was home to the Chetnik resistance movement. After the war it became part of Yugoslavia again. As Yugoslavia's most heterogeneous state it had much less influence in Tito's state than Serbia or Croatia, while its economic development lagged behind that of its neighbours.

Independence (from 1992)

Inspired by the domestic developments in Slovenia and Croatia, democratic elections were held in 1990, whereupon a coalition government between Muslims, Serbs, and Croats was formed under the nationalist Muslim President Izetbegovic. It proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992, against fierce opposition from the Serb minority which, under the leadership of Karadzic, proclaimed the Serb Republic of Bosnia‐Hercegovina. The country was torn apart in the Bosnian Civil War (1992–5), at the end of which the Dayton Agreement created a fragile state consisting of two halves, a Bosnian Serb half, and a loosely organized Muslim‐Croat Federation. Peace was restored, though another wave of migration ensued, as neither ethnicity dared live under the control of another. Meanwhile, the stability of the new state was overwhelmingly dependent on the deployment of 60,000 NATO troops under US leadership.

Bosnia‐Hercegovina was henceforward governed by a parliament and a three‐member Presidium consisting of a Bosnian, a Serb and a Croat. It was subdivided into two relatively autonomous republics of roughly equal size, the Bosnian‐Croat Federation with its seat in Sarajevo, and the Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) with its seat in Banja Luka. The complex governmental structure was made all the more inoperable by the relative success of the nationalist parties especially, but not exclusively, in the Serb Republic. As a result, many of the major decisions that institutionalized the sovereignty of the unloved state were forced through by the UN High Representative, over the heads of the various intransigent popular representatives.

Contemporary issues (since 2002)

Although foreign military presence was reduced to 20,000 troops by 2002, the integrity of the state was far from established. At the same time, the complex state structure and the international community supporting it became discredited by a bankrupt economy with up to three quarters of the population unemployed, and the establishment in many areas of organized crime. The tenth anniversary of the Dayton Agreement in 2005 coincided with international pressure to overcome the unworkable heterogeneity of state institutions, and to create structures for a common army, an integrated police force, and a more effective parliament, as well as a more centralized common executive. These reforms were only partially successful. A police reform was introduced in 2005, while the 2005/6 army reforms allowed Bosnia to join the NATO Partnership for Peace progrmame. However, a constitutional reform to transform politics failed in 2006, as it failed to gain the necessary support in parliament. The efforts to create a more workable federated state were also undermined by moves in the Serbian part of Bosnia to achieve independence. 

Palmowski, Jan. "Bosnia-Hercegovina." A Dictionary of Contemporary World History. (3 ed.) Oxford University Press. 2008.ebook.