The last decade of the past century was one of the most traumatic periods in the history of the Serb community in Croatia. It was predominantly marked by the interethnic conflict which left deep and lasting marks on the entire country, especially on Serbs. During the war, the Serb community was divided geographically and politically, and also in terms of the experience. At the same time, relations between Serbs and the majority nation were permanently marred by war crimes and other forms of ethnic violence. During the last decade of the last century, the Serb community has been reduced to the lowest numbers since the beginning of modern national identities and censuses.
Although a quarter of a century has passed since the war, those events still play a key role in providing legitimacy to the political order, and the battle for the interpretation of these events is still considered to be the pivotal political battle. Consequently, interethnic relations are markedly burdened, especially those between the majority Croatian people and the Serb community. Also, in terms of research, political disputes, and efforts to canonize one particular interpretation of events have had negative effects.
All this, and the fact that we are approaching 30 years since the start of that decade, has motivated the launch of the multidisciplinary research project “Nineties” within the Archive of Serbs and the Serb National Council. The project was formally initiated in 2019 and it involves historians and researchers from related fields – archivists, anthropologists, political scientists, linguists etc. – from the Serb community and beyond. Their activities consist of collecting documentary materials and other sources, drafting scientific papers and special publications, and organizing events where results of the project are presented.
Although one of the project’s goals was to try and offer a picture of the nineties where Serbs would not only play the role of the enemy Other, it does not shy away from “taboo-topics” affecting the Serb community itself. On the contrary, it pays due attention to the issues which the community needs to face up to. Above all, the project’s goal is to contribute to better scientific understanding of that period, by encompassing sources many researchers have thus far been neglecting. The project also intends to offer a more complex picture of the conflict, which, apart from the predominant inter-ethnic character, also had an intra-ethnic and political component.