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Bosnia deconstructed

The Dayton deal has created a single Bosnian state-but only on paper. Noel Malcolm says that in reality it will merely endorse ethnic partition

By Noel Malcolm   January 1996

Burckhardt was right after all. His famous phrase “The state as a work of art” has been rubbished by modern historians, who can see little or no resemblance between a city state and a fresco. But in Dayton, Ohio, last month, a state structure was put together for which only late 20th century art theory can provide a model or explanation. We have learned to live with conceptualist, post-modern or deconstructionist art; now at last we are being offered a conceptualist state, with a deconstructionist constitution.

The new Bosnia will be the geopolitical equivalent of an art-work by Damien Hirst.…

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