Complex Conceptions of Truth in the Former Yugoslavia: An examination of the Initiative for Recom’s truth-seeking discourse

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Almost two decades since the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia ended, the Coalition for RECOM aims to establish a regional truth commission and thereby address the ‘truth’ about the past in the region’s complex memory landscape. This study examines the Initiative for RECOM’s conceptualization of ‘truth’ about the past, as reproduced and disseminated in its monthly publication titled ‘The Voice’. This examination is conducted by means of a mixed methods approach, combining views on Critical Discourse Analysis, political discourse analysis, and interpretive content analysis. This integrated analytic framework is used to examine RECOM’s discursive selections regarding ‘truth’ and their implications, primarily guided by literature concerning truth commissions’ level of inquiry, and their practices and objectives shaping distinct ‘truth’ discourses. The results indicate that RECOM’s material images reproduce three distinct but related conceptions of ‘truth’, representing ‘truth’ as the contested terrain of competing interpretations of the past, as the narrow and victim-centric objective of RECOM, and as the shared outcome of an essentially social process. This study therefore concludes that RECOM excludes a more profound ‘truth’ focused on the causes and consequences of war, in favor of a narrow and partly exclusionary ‘truth’ that is envisioned to bridge social divides.
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