Seven cultural institutions in Sarajevo and their status

Author: Dr Enes Kujundžić, Faculty of Philosophy Zenica
Published by: Koalicija 143


At any rate, the actual relationship of a given society towards preserved records of its past is attested by the level of development of its cultural memory. At the same time we should keep in mind that culture in itself is not easily defined. There is no general agreement between the scholars, philosophers and sociologist on what should be included in a definition of this term.

Fairly widespread and broadly accepted concept of the culture is the one articulated in the West European scientific and philosophical tradition of the XX century. One should keep in mind that in other parts of the world, with developed cultural tradition, it’s not hard to recognize the elements used in constructing West European perception of cultural memory. It should also be recalled that fundamentals of a cultured behavior together with worldview are not, and indeed rarely are, shaped in the same way on different geographical longitudes.

In his book from 1871, Primitive Culture, British anthropologist Edward B. Taylor laid out the theoretical framework for understanding of the culture, some of which features contemporary thought recognizes as a basis for defining of the cultural heritage, defining it as: “…a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

For understanding the relationship between the culture and cultural heritage as its fundamental part it is necessary to have in mind that even culture itself is something that is inherited. Its essence is socially conditioned because the term itself basically refers to a system of beliefs by which a person lives by – in the other words, the structure of a living, while the cultural heritage is something that is handed down from generation to generation. One of the dangers of understanding the cultural heritage as something reduced only to a framework of something that is inherited, or rather immersed in the past, is contained within the fact that cultural heritage, such as it is, remains without the actual founder/patron, which consequently calls into question its continued existence. Therefore, the cultural heritage is relevant and alive fact of our everyday life, regardless of specific personal standpoints.

For more precise determination of the term “cultural heritage”, as a part of accumulated humanistic tradition of one society, as well as the evolution of the phrase in XX century, one can find a foothold in normative instruments created in the last couple of decades by the international institutions and professional associations such as UNESCO, Council of Europe, International Federation of Library Association – IFLA,  International Council of Archives – ICA, International Council of Museums – ICOM, International Council of Monuments and Sites – ICOMOS,  European Science Foundation – ESF, International Federation of Film Archives – FIEF, International Organization for Standardization – ISO, The Education, Audiovisual and Culture  Executive Agency – EACEA, Digital Object Identification Foundation – DOI, International centers for ISBN and ISSN etc.

These organizations have themselves primarily emerged in order to adequately counter both devastation of the cultural scene of both Europe and the world that caused by the Second World War, and technological changes and demands imposed  by the social structure of the second half of XX century.

Incidentally, it is necessary to place the interest in fate of the BaH cultural heritage, its present status together with ways and methods of its preservation and presentation, in a broader context of sustained dialogue between the members of the diverse BaH cultural habitat, which is also advocated by the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights.

In current BaH social context the institutions of memory, besides the ever-present difficulties in achieving the fundamental goals of their mission, face the inevitability of adapting to the technological changes which strongly affect their profession, namely something that is named a digital paradigm for some time now, with its ever increasing presence, not only in communicating ideas and knowledge, but also in promotion of the whole, cultural heritage in particular.

Nevertheless, as time goes we’re witnessing more and more that cultural and academic discourse today is not exclusively dependant on cultural institutions services, such as they are inherited from the past, but is increasingly reinforced by different segments of something called networked world for some time now.

How to move forward:

In order to solve the status of the abovementioned cultural institutions we should start by answering the following questions:

– Did any  legislative activity take place between 1995. and today in the cultural sector, both on Federation and state level of BaH? We can conclude without any restraint that it did not; at least not in Federation of BaH with Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks as constituent peoples. Thus we are witnessing almost complete break in creating and passing of laws, regulations and guidelines for the cultural sector in one part of BaH, including Sarajevo, in which all seven of the abovementioned cultural institutions are based. In the meantime an intensification of the outstanding indifference of the government not only towards the fate of the seven aforesaid institutions, but also towards other segments of the cultural sector, unfolded completely unhindered.

– Can the contemporary role of the heritage institutions, museums, libraries and archives in particular, be reaffirmed through the progress of informational technology that allows unprecedented possibilities to store, process, use and create ever-wider assortment of cultural content in digital form?

– Can the status of the cultural institutions, and experts and resources they command, be linked to the ongoing reform process on the universities that are facing a need for a greater presence of humanities, especially ones focused on the cultural heritage, with innovative curriculums and programs that combine theoretical and practical approach?

– How much longer can we ignore the features of the cultural heritage so important for individual citizens and for BaH society as a whole – its status as a public good – its diversity and plurality which are a product of particular traditions of each and every constituent peoples of BaH as much as they are result of wisdom and history of coexistence and century long intertwining of divergent influences that hailed both from East and West?

– Is it really necessary to reevaluate the existing insufficiently affirmative relationship towards such cultural property, or should we leave it to the forces of oblivion and contestation?

– Should citizens of BaH consent to be deprived of the palpable and in culture embedded testimonies of their own existence?


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