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Annika Björkdahl

Annika Björkdahl


Annika Björkdahl

Republika Srpska – The Becoming of a State


  • Annika Björkdahl

Summary, in English

Conceptually, this paper is about make-believe states and how such state is a socially constructed space, imagined and performed by those who perceive themselves as belonging to that state. It asks through what imaginaries and performative practices does a state come into being? Make-believe is here employed as an analytical category to refer both to the work of the imagination and to the materiality of performance. More specifically, the paper investigates how the imagined state is performed during war hoping to offer insights to the co-constitution of war and the state, and to the entangled processes of war–making and state-making. The analysis of the make-believe state and its suspended state-building process sharpens our eyes to the make-believe quality of every state and may provide insights to what it is that makes a state believable. It may also shed light on the constitutive relationship between war-making on one hand and state-making or state-breaking on the other, as it explores an embryotic process of crafting a state in the midst of war. Empirically, this paper investigates the statebuilding process of Republika Srpska (RS) through the conceptual lens of the make-believe state. Here RS figures both as a real space to be described empirically, and as an example of a make-believe state to be conceptually explored. In particular it reads the irredentism of RS to justify its territorial claims on the basis of real or imagined historic or ethnic affiliations within the context of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the parallel statebuilding projects that remade the Western Balkans.


  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year





STANCE Working Paper Series





Document type

Working paper


Department of Political Science, Lund University


  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • make-believe state
  • imaginaries
  • performative practices
  • state-making
  • materiality
  • imagined state
  • war
  • war-making
  • state-building
  • state-breaking
  • Republika Srpska
  • irredentism
  • Yugoslavia
  • Western Balkans




  • State-Making and the Origins of Global Order in the Long Nineteenth Century and Beyond