Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Modes, New Morale: Banja Luka, Bosnia.

The city of Banja Luka is surrounded by rolling hills that closely resemble those of the American midwest.  A bird's eye view would prove similar in appearance to the farm communities of Idaho and Northern Utah, but if you wander the unpaved roads between the cinderblock houses, significant differences become apparent.  Many of the unfinished dwellings have been forfeited for lack of funds, and others are unfinished but inhabited out of desperation.  

Bosnia has been known for it's religious divisiveness, the beautiful cities of Mostar and Sarajevo, and the sacred site of Međugorje. However, it is most recently known as a war-torn country with little left of its male population.  The men who remained after the war have been debilitated by injury, and dampened by traumatic memories of violence.  Yet, somehow, the families that have been stripped of their brothers and fathers carry on by the strength of their women.  

The Tadić women and their home in Bosnia.
March 2012.
This is true for the Tadić family.  With her father out of work and consumed by post-traumatic stress, Violeta Tadić, at age 20, provides for the bulk of her family's necessities.  Her grandmother joins her efforts by making Balkan socks--papuća--and selling them at the local market.  Their 120 square-meter house sleeps the nine of them--children, parents and grandma--but not comfortably.  Violeta spends a few weeks at a time working as a housekeeper and nanny for a family in Zagreb, and then returns to her country and humble home in Banja Luka for a few days, only to leave again at the end of those

While away, Skype is her main mode of communication.  Between the former Yugoslavian countries, phone services differ and are unreliable, thus giving Facebook and Skype the opportunity to do their best work: keeping the family connected.  Though the Tadić family lives a far-from-extravagant lifestyle, they do have a computer for school assignments, Skyping and Facebook.  

Without these new modes of communication, Violeta would be alienated from her family's day-to-day worries and concerns.  While the country is still developing a stable economy and rebuilding its physical anatomy, it has stayed up-to-date in terms of technology.  Those who have been displaced by the recent civil war are now able to reconnect, and those families who have survived utilize new media and modes of communication to stay connected.  This new media has played and continues to play a vital role in revitalizing the country's confidence by cementing smaller communities through connection


  1. *A note for Briggs, Philip and Clarissa. Travel writing and food writing notoriously focus on the description of experience. Where, when, what; sight, smell, etc. What is unique to that place, those people, that culture...
    The challenge with this assignment is mixing the prompt (new media and the family) with an epicurean or travel experience.

    It's also important to note that food and travel writing are not always detached (like mine), or necessarily serious. When writing about food, it's not always just viewed as a substance, but often as a cultural phenomenon.

    Let me know if you have questions, and I apologize for any lack of clarity!

  2. Enjoy reading how new media is blessing the lives of people. There is so much good it can do. Just hope the good can outweigh the bad!

  3. You have had some amazing experiences and you share your learning with us so beautifully. We are able to experience them to a degree with you. Being able to use Skype as their only reliable communication once again shows how useful technology is.

  4. I liked how you were able to show the value of new media through the experiences of that family. Great job!

  5. This should get wider circulation. Awesome.

  6. I think we should think about the phrase "those who have been displaced by the recent civil war" in light of Lincoln's second Inaugural.