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Main : autobiography, feminism, history, violence, war

ISBN: 9781742198941
188 pp
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Surviving Peace: A political memoir
Olivera Simić
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How do you pick up the pieces after your life is shattered by war? How do you continue living when your country no longer exists, your language is no longer spoken and your family is divided, not just by distance but by politics too? What happens when your old identity is taken from you and a new one imposed, one that you never asked for?

When Olivera Simić was seven years old, President Tito died. Old divisions re-emerged as bitter ethnic conflicts unfolded. War arrived in 1992. People were no longer Yugoslavs but Serbs, Croatians, Bosniaks. Old friends became enemies overnight.

In this heartfelt account of life before, during and after the Bosnian War and the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Simić talks of her transition from peace to war and back again. She shows how she found the determination to build a new life when the old one was irretrievable.

Traversing four continents, she takes us on her winding journey from Bosnia to Australia, revealing the complex challenges of adjusting to life in a new country and exposing the harsh reality of the post-traumatic stress that accompanies her.

Simić strives to find the balance between wanting to move on to a different future and a pressing need to look back at a past that won’t go away. The pull of her homeland remains irresistible despite it being ravaged by destruction, and her exposure of the war crimes that took place there means she is labelled both a ‘traitor’ and a ‘truth seeker’.

Surviving Peace is one woman’s story of courage that echoes the stories of millions of people whose lives have been displaced by war. As we still face a world rife with armed conflict, this book is a timely reminder that once the last gunshot has been fired and the last bomb dropped, the new challenge of surviving peace begins. 

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ABC Brisbane 612 Interview with Steve Austin
Radio National LNL Phillip Adams
Feminist Focus Radio 3cr
Video Podcast Olivera in conversation at the Outspoken Literary Festival held at Maleny, NSW

Write a review.
Peppered with quotes from diverse sources, this volume unusually combines academic-type discussion with personal reflections. It also gives a first-hand account of post-traumatic stress. Surviving Peace provides greater understanding of the Balkan Wars to those who don’t know much about the Bosniak, Serb and Croatian ethnicities, and some possible new perspectives to those who do. It makes a valuable contribution to ensuring we don’t forget the horrors and enduring impact of war.
Joanne Shiells, 'Fancy Goods', Books+Publishing
The lines of enmity and amity that course through the Balkan wars and their aftermath in diverse diasporic communities have found their biographer in Olivera Simić. Like Rebecca West, she has written a song of experience – an intimate but also reflective book of living through the devastating politics of the former Yugoslavia. Recalling a past that remains present, it grapples with the pressing questions of what it means to live with and, importantly live on, with the predicaments of survival and hope. This is a book to be read here and now.
Peter D Rush, Director of the International Criminal Justice programme, Institute of International Law and the Humanities, University of Melbourne.

Too often, when we read or hear news of wars in places we know only how to locate on a map, we forget that in each story there are people, people with histories and emotions and lives which are often irreparably damaged by the time the page is turned or the radio broadcast ends. Olivera Simić reminds us that war hurts people in so many, many ways and is never really over. It’s an important and timely reminder of the truth.

Madeleine Rees, Secretary General, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Map A Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) xi

Map B Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) xii


Preface The Past Lives On 1

Chapter One Journeying Through War and Peace 8

Chapter Two Traitor or Truth Seeker? 26

Moral Responsibility 35

The Masculinity of War 38

Truth Seekers 44

Paying a High Price 45

How to Face the Past? 52

Chapter Three Moving From War to Peace 59

The NATO Bombings 60

Life as a Refugee 65

Building Peace 70

Where are you From? 75

Chapter Four The Past is the Present 81

Chapter Five Victims and Survivors 97

From One Disaster to Another 103

Facing the Past Begins 113

Chapter Six Between Remembering and Forgetting 126

Minefields 134

Conflicting War Memories 138

Epilogue Troubled Homeland 148

Appendix Timeline of Yugoslavia’s Disintegration 161

Glossary 164

Bibliography 167

Index 178



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