Experts launch project to digitize neglected Bosnian heritage

Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:27am EDT
 
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By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A group of Balkan experts have launched a high-tech project to digitize Bosnia's historical archives which were partly destroyed during its three wars last century and are still under threat from neglect and a lack of funding.

The project promises to make available online a host of records and papers detailing Bosnia's turbulent past, most notably the events and atmosphere surrounding the 1914 Sarajevo assassination that triggered World War One.

Bosnia has been in a state of the political paralysis since its 1992-95 war, which ended in a U.S.-brokered peace deal that silenced the guns but sowed the seeds for two decades of dysfunctional government.

Political bickering between the former warring sides has left many cultural and historical institutions without funding.

"Bosnia's national heritage had been systematically destroyed during the three wars and because of a lack of interest and neglect by political parties," James Lyon, a U.S. historian and former Balkan analyst for the International Crisis Group thinktank, told a news conference on Tuesday.

Lyon and other Balkan experts created the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage in January, initially to help digitize the parts of Bosnia's National Library archives relating to the June 1914 killing of the heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

The experts have now expanded the project after part of the national archive, housed in the state presidency in Sarajevo, was set ablaze in anti-government rioting in February, and floodwaters threatened a number of municipal and private archives in May.

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A digitalised image of the front page of the June 30, 1914 edition of the Bosnische Post, after the assassination of the heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is released to Reuters August 20, 2014. REUTERS/National Libary Sarajevo/Handout via Reuters