Sarah Green

Childhood, War and Memory: Experiences of Bosnian Child Refugees in Australia‘ (PhD in History, 2019).

This thesis explores the impact of war and displacement on children who moved to Australia during and after the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It takes as its starting point the knowledge that the Bosnian war – like all wars – has predominantly been studied from the viewpoint of adults and suggests that new understandings about the experiences of wartime refugees are generated by looking at the war and its aftermath through the lens of childhood. I argue that there was a historically specific understanding of children, childhood and children’s rights within the context of the Bosnian war and in the wake of the near-universal ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ten Bosnian former child refugees participated in oral history interviews for this thesis and their narratives are analysed alongside complementary archival material. In telling the stories of these children, the experiences of their families and contemporaries are also illuminated. In addition to the oral history interviews, this thesis draws on institutional archives, museum objects, and media analysis to provide a comprehensive historical examination of how Bosnian children experienced the war and how they remember it in diaspora. The first half of the thesis looks at how Bosnian children’s war experiences were portrayed at the time – including through international media; how their needs were decided and addressed by international aid organisations; and how they are represented in the scholarly literature. The second half of the thesis turns its attentions towards how they are remembered in the present day. In doing so, this thesis demonstrates how writing through the lens of childhood generates new understandings of the Bosnian war.

Supervisors: Professor Joy Damousi, Dr Jordana Silverstein