Representations of Trauma in Narratives of Goli Otok

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The year 1948 holds a special place in the history of former Yugoslavia. For a variety of reasons, ranging from political to personal, the ruling Communist Party, headed by Josip Broz Tito, broke off from Stalin and the Communist family of nations to embark on an independent road to build socialism. A great number of Yugoslav Communists and non-Communists alike paid dearly for this break, Communists at the hands of their own comrades. Fearing an invasion from the Soviets, a threat that may have been unfounded but nonetheless seemed psychologically real, the Communist leadership imprisoned and persecuted thousands of those who refused to change their ideological affiliations overnight and denounce Stalin as an enemy or in any way expressed doubt that an outright interruption of relations with the first country of socialism should be avoided. Among those imprisoned there was a large number of those who were completely innocent of the charges. They were never made aware of their guilt and they spent years in prison guessing what their transgression might be. They were subjected to a process of "reeducation" that amounted to a reign of terror not seen before. A vast majority of prisoners gave in to torture and psychological pressure and made false confessions, denouncing friends and foes, including family members. Even though Tito's camps did not aim at the liquidation of prisoners, thousands died as a result of harsh treatment, starvation and diseases in prison and from the consequences of these after their release. The precise numbers are still not available. In persecuting those who disagreed with them, the Yugoslav Communists had learned their trade from the masters, organizers of the Nazi concentration camps and Stalin's gulags. For some, what happened to the inmates in these camps paled in comparison with what was happening in Tito's camps. Writing about his prison experiences, author Dragoslav Mihailović observes: "What Solzhenitsyn describes in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was a picnic, brother, compared to what happened here." Of a number of Yugoslav camps in existence the one on Goli Otok, a desolate island off the Adriatic coast, stands out as an embodiment of evil. Now, sixty years later, when the last surviving prisoners are succumbing to old age and the realities of Goli Otok are passing out of living memory, scholars are looking at Goli Otok as a site of memory and asking a number of questions: What does it mean today to remember Goli Otok? Can this past be narrated and what power does it hold over the present? Should we worry that the passage of time will obliterate this horrendous experience? How has the memory of the tortured and the dead been preserved and how can it be used to prevent a re-occurrence? Without trying to answer these questions or name the guilty party, this essay looks at the aftermath of Goli Otok, at the ravages of the camp in those who passed through its system and suffered the powerful destructive effects on their psyche. In particular, I will focus on the perpetrators of the crimes. The historical dispute between Tito and Stalin transformed the literary scene in Yugoslavia. As the country abandoned the Soviet model, it established contacts with the West, opening up Yugoslav literatures to contemporary modern trends. Belgrade became a neutral capital and Yugoslavia an interesting buffer zone from which to observe the Cold War. Literature became freer and more profound, yet still found itself in the shadow of socialist ideology. Political reasons more than aesthetic ones made this "freedom" possible. Searching for its own way and interpreting the theory of Marxism-Leninism more freely, the Yugoslav Communist Party created an alliance with the intellectual elite by allowing a certain amount of freedom as long as the writers reconciled, as much as possible, their aesthetic principles to the ideological views of the Party. Reaffirming the autonomy of art, Yugoslav writers tried to lessen the effects of ideology by turning away from the present, which allowed them to steer from sensitive issues. As a result, the freedom of expression exhausted itself primarily in terms of form, while the content remained selectively controlled. One topic which remained a tacit...

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... • Easy to replicate-meaning that results of scientific research should always be presented in such a way that other researchers could repeat the procedures to test whether the same result would be obtained. However, with social trauma research, researchers often study consequences of traumatic events that have already happened without the involvement of the researcher and that cannot be replicated for both practical and ethical reasons (e.g., Gorup, 2011;Volkan, 2001);. • Based on observation-scientific knowledge should come as a product of observation, and direct observation of phenomena under study at best. ...
... For example, research on the Holocaust only became possible after the World War Two ended, and this means several years after most of the horrors took place and a large part of it was made possible owing to the preservation of archives documenting the atrocities, which is a rare case (e.g., Blanke & Kristel, 2013). Research on the traumatic consequences of actions of the communist regime in Eastern Europe became possible only after the fall of communism, meaning decades after traumatic events occurred (e.g., Bezo & Maggi, 2015;Gorup, 2011;Volker & Flap, 1997). • Objective/unbiased-one important classical requirement is that scientific knowledge be "objective," "ideologically neutral," "unbiased," requiring the researcher to be only guided by results of his/her research. ...
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In everyday life, we are often exposed to traumatic experiences which can lead to diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 (2013), PTSD, as part of trauma and stressor-related disorders, is defined by diagnostic criteria which include: (1) Exposure to actual or threatened death which, in the new version of DSM-5, compared to DSM 4, includes not only directly experiencing or witnessing the traumatic event but also learning that the traumatic event occurred to a close friend or family member. Also, experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event can be criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD: (2) Presence of intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event (memories, dreams, dissociative reactions, distress, and physiological reactions); (3) Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event; (4) Negative alterations in cognition and mood, which include the inability to remember an important aspect(s) of the traumatic event(s) often due to dissociative amnesia. Also, distorted cognitions, feelings of detachment, and persistent inability to experience positive emotions are described, among other symptoms, within these criteria.
... Vanyka är en sorts inverterad spegling av pojken. Och nästa länk i associationskedjan ligger nära till hands: Jugoslaviens ökända fångläger på ön Goli otok, där den kommunistiska regimen massfängslade dissidenter under svåra förhållanden (se Gorup, 2007). ...
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The Child as an Instrument: Criticism of Titoist Discourse in Aleksandar Hemon’s ‘Islands’ and Alma Lazarevska’s ‘Blagdan krunice’ Especially since the war in the 1990s, much Bosnian-Herzegovinian fiction has employed the perspective of the child in order to express criticism of dominant ideological narratives. This article views the child figure as a political device that exposes the mechanisms of certain dominant discourses and that offers new, deviating angles on well-established conceptions within these discourses. The analysis of Alexander Hemon’s short story ‘Islands’ (2000) stresses the grotesque imagery associated with the perception of the boy narrator as a way of ‘unlearning’ notions of Yugoslav modernity as idyllic, even paradisiac. And in Alma Lazarevska’s 2003 ‘Blagdan krunice’ (The Feast of the Rosary) the focus is not so much on the perspective of the boy protagonist as on his function as an arena for projecting narratives of the heroic soldier on the threshold between Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav discourse.
When considering the relationship between social trauma and scientific research, one should have in mind two categories of issues:
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