Detention camps as instruments of torture and collective trauma
Half a century after the Holocaust, on European soil, Bosnian Serbs orchestrated a system of concentration camps where they subjected their Bosniak Muslim and Bosnian Croat neighbors to torture, abuse, and killing. Foreign journalists exposed the horrors of the camps in the summer of 1992, sparking worldwide outrage. This exposure, however, did not stop the mass atrocities. Hikmet Karčić shows that the use of camps and detention facilities has been a ubiquitous practice in countless wars and genocides in order to achieve the wartime objectives of perpetrators. Although camps have been used for different strategic purposes, their essential functions are always the same: to inflict torture and lasting trauma on the victims.
Torture, Humiliate, Kill develops the author’s collective traumatization theory, which contends that the concentration camps set up by the Bosnian Serb authorities had the primary purpose of inflicting collective trauma on the non-Serb population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This collective traumatization consisted of excessive use of torture, sexual abuse, humiliation, and killing. The physical and psychological suffering imposed by these methods were seen as a quick and efficient means to establish the Serb “living space.” Karčić argues that this trauma was deliberately intended to deter non-Serbs from ever returning to their pre-war homes. The book centers on multiple examples of experiences at concentration camps in four towns operated by Bosnian Serbs during the war: Prijedor, Bijeljina, Višegrad, and Bileća. Chosen according to their political and geographical position, Karčić demonstrates that these camps were used as tools for the ethno-religious genocidal campaign against non-Serbs. Torture, Humiliate, Kill is a thorough and definitive resource for understanding the function and operation of camps during the Bosnian genocide.
Hikmet Karčić is a genocide and Holocaust scholar based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was the 2017 Auschwitz Institute-Keene State College Global Fellow who has written extensively on genocide denial and atrocity prevention. A sought after commentator on international media outlets, his articles covering far-right extremism and mass atrocities have appeared in Haaretz, Newsweek and Foreign Policy.
“Torture, Humiliate, Kill is a masterfully written and meticulously researched monograph about the Serb-run concertation camps during the 1992–95 Bosnian War. This groundbreaking book represents both a tribute to the victims and an essential reference for understanding the genocidal intent of the systematic violence by the Serb military against the Bosniak population.”- Hariz Halilovich
—Hariz Halilovich, RMIT University
“Hikmet Karčić’s Torture, Humiliate, Kill: Inside the Bosnian Serb Camp System is a must read for anyone concerned about genocide and/or keen to gain critical insights to the nightmare that engulfed Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. It is research-based, detailed, nuanced, and revelatory. The facts are horrific, and the analysis is incisive.”- Samuel Totten
—Samuel Totten, Author of Genocide by Attrition: The Nuba Mountains of Sudan, and co-author of The United Nations Genocide Convention: An Introduction
“This is an authoritative, meticulously researched study that breaks new ground in its analysis of the concentration camp system run by the Serb extremists in Bosnia in the 1990s. Essential reading for anyone interested in the nature of genocidal violence.”- Marko Hoare
—Marko Hoare, Sarajevo School of Science and Technology
“Hikmet Karcic has produced a vivid, moving, and sensitive account of Bosnian Serb camp system, shedding light on how the camps were not only instruments of death, but thoroughly genocidal instruments of social-psychological terror. Placing Bosnian Serb camps in their local historical and global context, Torture, Humiliate, Kill significantly advances our critical knowledge of the Bosnian Genocide.”
—Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Assistant Professor and Director of the Raphaël Lemkin Genocide Prevention Program, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University- Douglas Irvin-Erickson
Listen: Author interview with New Books Network | 06/29/2022