Post Yugoslav Voices has social and academic goals that are intertwined. With regards to the first, it has the ambition to stimulate public recognition of the traumatic events in the region. Scholarly research and human rights practices suggest that the preconditions for long term social and economic development in post-war societies are largely determined by the capacity of its political leaders, media, judiciary, intellectual community and educators to deal with a burdened past. Former states of the Republic of Yugoslavia are now facing the challenge of building a civil society strong enough to publicly acknowledge the history of ethnic cleansing during the war in the 90s, and the systematic killing and displacement of minority groups during World War II. The process of articulating war experiences is seen as a necessary condition for different groups that are not at all or insufficiently represented in the public realm, political discourse and historical curriculum. Post Yugoslav Voices aspires to contribute to this development with a transnational approach by collecting, processing and giving access to personal experiences of people involved in the war in the various post-Yugoslavia regions.
The approach taken combines a range of innovative features. The interviews are recorded on video, which yields a combination of sound and image, and will be transcribed, translated and annotated using a rich metadata schema. Furthermore, the time-coded transcripts will facilitate full-text search at fragment-level for an international audience. The scale of the envisaged collection (over 400 interviews), and the fact that a series of regional projects with a similar design is being planned, should enable the comparison of patterns at several content layers across the entire Western Balkan in the near future. This combination of features makes this a unique initiative, as is confirmed by an inventory and analysis of all initiatives related to oral history that have recently been conducted in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. (Cf. Bibliography of oral history collections in Bosnia-Herzegovina v2.1)
In addition Post Yugoslav Voices aims to create a platform for multidisciplinary scholarly research that will contribute to the development of e-humanities and the assessment of oral history as an instrument for the process of rebuilding society. The sources that are being generated can provide valuable information for various disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. By applying state-of-the-art ICT technology on digitized personal narratives that are being made available to a global audience, a faceted analysis of the transfer of meaning in a variety of social-cultural contexts will become feasible.