Saving Lake Nula

Postindustrial Natures and New Frontieres of Environmentalism in Postwar Bosnia Herzegovina
Thursday, 8 April 2021 - 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
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Marie-Dominik Langlois
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Free of charge
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This event is sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Territories of Extractivism (GRITE), the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), and the UOttawa-ULyon Joint Research Chair on Urban Anthropocene.

Larisa Kurtović, Anthropology, uOttawa
Yanna Jovic, Honors Bachelor in Conflict Studies and Human Rights

In 2018, an activist campaign in the central-Bosnian town of Vareš successfully challenged the EU-sponsored ¡Vamos! Program's plan to test underwater mining equipment in a nearby lake “Nula” that formed out of the pit of the now-defunct coalmine “Smreka.” ¡Vamos! and its local partners claimed that this project might bring back jobs to this deindustrialized and depopulated part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the project's opponents focused on potential environmental hazards this kind of testing, pointing to the murky ethics of bringing experimental technology to a poor country with weak environmental regulations. Both groups sought to position themselves in relation to the town’s history and present-day predicaments.  Vareš was once infamous for its high levels of pollution caused by the local steelworks and the coal mine, but those activities came to a halt with the start of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. During this time, the natural environment began to recover, and in some cases, overtake the industrial ruins of the steelworks itself.  The newly formed lake became a recreational area, enjoyed by swimmers, fishermen, and picnickers. Hence, this reclaimed nature became central to the hoped-for economic revitalization of the region via ecological and rural tourism.