Writing the City
The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Who Controls the Past Controls the Future. Who Controls the Present Controls the Past.
George Orwell, 1984
Theorist Maria Tumarkin speaks of “traumascapes” as the “distinctive category of places transformed physically and psychically by suffering, part of a scar tissue that stretches across the world.” Hailed as a beautiful, multiethnic and culturally diverse city, Sarajevo today is a magnet for tourism. I walk through multiple bazaars, pass souvenir shops and sit in picturesque cafés. But I also visit the war sites, the tunnel that was used to smuggle arms and food into the city and the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide. Tumarkin notes: “In a time when terror and tragedy flourish these locations exhibit a compelling power, drawing pilgrims and tourists from around the world who want to understand the meaning of the traumatic events that unfolded there. In traumascapes, life goes on but the past is still unfinished business.” Unfinished —— and profitable.