Skip to main content

Living on the frontline: Indeterminacy, Value and Military Waste in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Henig, David (2019) Living on the frontline: Indeterminacy, Value and Military Waste in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina. Anthropological Quarterly, 92 (1). pp. 85-110. ISSN 0003-5491. (doi:10.1353/anq.2019.0003) (KAR id:65799)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download (273kB) Preview
[thumbnail of AQ-accepted.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Microsoft Word Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of AQ-accepted.docx]
Official URL


More than 5,000 people around the world are injured or killed every year by landmines and unexploded ordnance, whether in active or former zones of conflict. This article explores how the after effects of war, materialised in military waste (unexploded landmines, shrapnel and bullets), transform forms of life in a post-war polity. It elucidates how the ongoing presence of military waste radically transforms the environment and the very conditions of liveability for those who dwell in such spaces many years after the actual conflict has finished. Situated in impoverished rural areas of postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, I offer an ethnographic elucidation of the social life of military waste and its entanglement in people’s attempts to remake livelihoods and reengage with their environment in the aftermath of the Bosnian war (1992-1995) that has resulted in pervasive politicisation and privatisation of social redistribution, and has given rise to an unprecedented degree of precarity. My aim is to document how the ongoing presence of landmines and military waste renders the landscape and peoples’ livelihoods not only radically uncertain and distressing but also often indeterminate, and thus open to the generation of unexpected forms of engagement, cohabitation, and value creation. By treating military waste as indeterminate, I ask what forms, practices, and potential for value creation military waste engenders in a particular spatio-temporal configuration of postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina. By tracking the emerging activities surrounding land use and value creation in timber forest contaminated by military waste, I show how this invisibly dangerous landscape gives rise to new ways of engaging with the forest's economic potential vis-à-vis economic precarity in the postwar period. Ultimately, the article suggests how the subjective experience of fear gives rise to multiple modes of valuation, for people whose lives and the surrounding environment are mediated by experiences and remainders of conflict.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1353/anq.2019.0003
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: D. Henig
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2018 17:00 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:52 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Henig, David:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year