Wayward, Hidden Transcripts: Sinking River as Methodology

  • Safet HadziMuhamedovic (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic talk, debate, discussion


Although James Scott (see 1990) was referring to the kinds of human resistance that come about in hegemonic situations, I would like to claim his concept of a ‘hidden transcript’ for the insurrectionary practices of both ‘humans’ and ‘nonhumans’ in the southeastern Bosnian highlands. I focus on one karst landscape where a set of seasonal rituals become apparent as at once different and the same for Christians, Muslims and Roma. In the 1990s war, nationalism swept through this space, designating and erasing ‘ethnic’ communities. Survivors fled into exile. As I wondered how best to methodologically frame this intricate situation, it appeared to me that the answer was literally beneath my feet the whole time. One of the longest sinking rivers in the world begins its life in the Field of Gacko. It briefly erupts onto the wide plateau and then tumbles back into the Dinaric karst, carving out thousands of secret chambers on its journey. About all we can say for certain about the complex system of the sinking-and-rising river is that some of its singled-out qualities are at best capable of generating incomplete remarks about what is an inherently imagined system. Each time this river resurfaces, it takes on a new name. At least nineteen current names can be traced for its outward presences to anthropoi, but none for its inward-looking streams. To make a complete survey of its chambers and paths, we would have to destroy it. This is an ethnographer’s cautionary tale and one about my decision to write waywardly.
Period30 Jun 2018
Event titleLiquidscapes: tales and tellings of watery worlds and fluid states
Event typeConference
LocationDevon , United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational