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Reading for your Life: The Impact of Reading and Writing During the Siege of Sarajevo

Natalie Ornat
Published Online: 2018-06-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opis-2018-0004


In the spring of 1992, the city of Sarajevo was surrounded by nationalist Serb troops and bombarded with shells, bullets, and terror for four long years. Isolated from the world, Sarajevans found a refuge and a freedom that took them beyond their circumstances: they read, they wrote, and they survived. This paper examines how these activities impacted the mental, physical, and spiritual survival of Sarajevans during the war. Diaries, memoirs, personal histories, letter collections, and oral histories are analyzed for what they may reveal about the value of reading and writing during this time of crisis. What we learn from these accounts is that even during the most trying times, activities such as reading and writing give us a space for control and self-preservation. This paper strives to learn about the power of literacy and writing from those who faced adversity in war-torn Sarajevo.

Keywords: Siege of Sarajevo; intellectual activities; trauma; libraries; reading


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About the article

Received: 2017-09-01

Accepted: 2018-01-09

Published Online: 2018-06-21

Citation Information: Open Information Science, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 44–58, ISSN (Online) 2451-1781, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opis-2018-0004.

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© 2018 Natalie Ornat, published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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