Exhibit explores the lives of Bosnian genocide survivors

March 15, 2010

McDaniel College presents “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” March 22-April 2 in Decker College Center.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. An opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. March 23 in Decker College Center.

An exhibit that first opened at the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis, Mo., and has since been displayed on Capitol Hill, “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” is a multimedia exploration of ethnic cleansing as told through the words and pictures of those who lived through the horrifying experience.

Paul Miller, associate professor of History at McDaniel, who teaches a course on genocide and who arranged for the exhibit to make a stop here on the Hill, says that bringing the exhibit to McDaniel enables his students – and the larger community – to be exposed to the history and culture of different parts of the world.

“It’s important to keep this in the public eye,” Miller says. “During the 1990s, the genocide was extremely prevalent in the news, and it’s still very much an open wound for a lot of people.”

Miller’s course, Fathoming Evil: Genocide in the Modern World, throws the spotlight on the history of “modern,” or 20th-century, genocide by exploring the Holocaust and the Armenian, Soviet, Cambodian, Bosnian, and Rwandan genocides.

Miller’s course stresses the need to better appreciate the diversity and complexity of the human experience. “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” is one of Miller’s tools toward achieving that goal.

The exhibit was created through the efforts of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum, the Union of Citizens of the Municipality of Prijedor – Bosnian refugees who have settled in the St. Louis area to form one of the largest such communities in the world – and St. Louis’ Fontbonne University faculty and students who conducted video interviews with local Prijedor survivors as part of a class on Bosnian immigration.

Several people involved with the exhibit’s creation will attend the opening reception at McDaniel, including Amir Karadzic, president of the Union of Citizens of the Municipality of Prijedor, and Jasna Meyer, a former McDaniel associate professor of Communication who now teaches at Fontbonne University.

“When the first Bosnian refugees began arriving to USA in the early 1990s, they were mainly survivors of concentration camps and killing centers in Prijedor,” Karadzic explains. “Their arrival – against a backdrop of targeted mass killings of civilians, violent displacement from homes, forced imprisonment, torture and systematic rape – signaled the reemergence of genocide in Europe at the end of the 20th century.

“We want people to understand why we came to USA and the events that brought us here,” Karadzic says. “This exhibit is not meant to feed a spirit of vengeance and retribution. We want our children to know what happened in Prijedor so that they can prevent this from ever happening again to anyone, anywhere.”