Oral Histories

The CBS oral history project (formerly the Bosnia Memory Project) is a historical and cultural documentation effort directed at establishing an enduring record of the experiences of Bosnian genocide survivors and their families, including a younger generation born after the genocide. CBS faculty, students, and staff collaborate with members of St. Louis’s Bosnian community to record interviews of Bosnian survivors and their relatives, including a younger generation born outside of Bosnia. The CBS also collects books, letters, and photographs that reflect the culture and experiences of Bosnians in St. Louis and beyond.

Would the Center for Bosnian Studies be interested in interviewing me?
Everyone’s story is important. The CBS is interested in interviewing anyone who is from Bosnia-Herzegovina or whose parents are from Bosnia-Herzegovina, regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, experience, profession, or level of education. We are also interested in interviewing people from other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Will the interview be recorded?
Yes. Either an audio or an audio-video recording will be made, depending on the preference of the speaker. Recordings will be housed at Fontbonne University and will be made available to students and researchers. Recordings will NOT be made available on the internet without the permission of the speaker.

Will an interpreter be provided?
Yes, if needed. We can also conduct interviews in Bosnian.

How long does an interview take?
Between one and two hours.

When will the interview be made available to scholars and researchers?
Unless you specify otherwise, the interview will be made available immediately, though only the records will be available to the general public (sample records can be viewed here). However, you can specify that the interview be kept sealed for a period of up to thirty years. We will preserve all interviews for future generations of scholars and researchers.

What questions are asked in the interview?
There is no standard set of questions. Instead, the speaker is encouraged to talk about his or her personal experience, recounting what life was like before, during, and after the war and genocide. Also of interest are the experiences of coming to and living in the United States. Younger Bosnian-Americans, who may remember little about the war, are encouraged to speak about their perceptions of their cultural and political identities.

What if I have photographs, letters, or other documents relevant to life in Bosnia or to the Bosnian war and genocide?
The CBS is interested in collecting relevant photographs, letters, and documents, preferably by digitally scanning them and returning the originals to their owners. These materials will become part of a digital database available to students, faculty, and researchers.

Will I be paid for participating in an interview or for donating photographs or documents?
No. Funding is not available for such payment. In addition, interviews are considered by researchers to be more valid if the speaker is not paid. No interviews, photographs, or documents will ever be used for commercial purposes.