Buildings and monuments serve as a communal declaration of identity and as the physical landscape upon which memories are inscribed. Through its ability to concrete identity and capacity to reconstruct the narratives of the past, public spaces and places have the structure of memory and serve as a fundamental aspect of cultural memory from which groups derive their identities. Beyond the social function of communal spaces, as a spatial claim architecture is a political expression of the territorial imperatives of the state. Consequently, both the political and social significance of physical spaces/places lead to the direct targeting of buildings, landscapes, and recognizable monuments in the processes of war.
As evidenced by the 1991-5 War in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, culturally-relevant and internationally recognizable symbols of culture, like Stari Most in Bosnia and the Old Town of Dubrovnik, were destroyed with the purpose of manipulating the physical memories of the communities, thereby directly affecting the cultural identities of the communities residing there. As it stands, scholarship on the subject of memory in post-war areas has failed to consider the effects of space/place on memory, consequently failing to provide a viable theoretical framework to explain the interplay of space/place, memory, and identity. This paper is an effort to connect the current scholarship on memory, its function and effects on identity, with the realities of the physical environment in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia and their function of imposed confrontation, and thus recollection, of the War. The purpose of my thesis is to put city landscapes (private, uncrated memories) and museum narratives (public, curated memories) in communication to demonstrate how influential a factor space/place is in determining collective memory in a Balkan context. Cultural memory is at once incredibly vulnerable to reconstruction and massively determinate of group identity, thereby necessitating a deeper understanding of its determinant factors and the present uses of such factors.