Breathing: Violence In, Peace Out
by Ivana Milojević
(Non-fiction, University of Queensland Press, October 2013)
ISBN: 978 0 7022 4969 3 | C Format Paperback | 304pp | $39.95
Breathe in. Breathe out. Are you the same?
BREATHING: Violence In, Peace Out by Dr Ivana Milojević investigates the long-term impact of trans-generational trauma and the possibilities for healing.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Ivana is a researcher, writer and university professor currently based at the Sunshine Coast. This book is both an extension of her professional work in the area of peace and conflict studies, as well as her attempt to come to terms with the traumatic events in her own and her family’s past.
BREATHING: Violence In, Peace Out is both externally focussed – on the politics of violence (‘breathing out’) – and internally focussed, on our inner journey towards healing and inner peace. In the book, Ivana shares many personal stories (‘breathing in’), including her own:
Moscow, 1937 – the disappearance of her great-grandfather Mirko Weinberger when he was 40 years old, leaving behind his wife and two children. A Marxist-socialist revolutionary, Mirko had been imprisoned three times in Slovenia prior to seeking refuge in the Soviet Union. He was assassinated during Soviet Purges, a collective madness that normalised killings, including his own, for which no one was ever held accountable.
Engels, 1942 – the experiences of her grandmother who, at the age of 19, was fatherless, a widow, and a mother to a newborn girl. The day after she turned 22, she gave birth to her second daughter, Ivana’s mother, in a camp for displaced persons in Engels, Russia. Soon after, she was relocated to another camp, and, in the process, was separated from her first daughter, Svetlana. When the danger had passed and they were reunited, her daughter no longer recognised her.
Belgrade, 1992 – Ivana was having coffee with a colleague when, moments later, she was pressed face down, breathing in the dust and filth from the street. A young man was kneeling on a nearby window sill, shooting. She remembers looking at him and feeling powerless that her life might be taken on such a whim.
Novi Sad, 1999 – NATO bombing during their ‘humanitarian intervention’. The impact this had on people’s lives, including their physical and psychological well-being, is looked at, along with the devastating effects events of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia had on people close to Ivana, including her mother.
For Ivana, the breath has played an extremely important role in meditative practices, in developing mindfulness, and in healing. She comments, ‘the rhythm created by inhaling and exhaling reflects not only what we take from the world but also what we give back to it’ – reminding us of our coexistence, even if the air is polluted or fouled by our fellow human beings.
Part of the ‘New Approaches to Peace and Conflict’ series, BREATHING: Violence In, Peace Out is a revealing exploration of the links between personal histories and world events. It helps us to understand life’s dualities: violence and peace, self and other, stability and change, slavery and freedom, past and future.
MEDIA TALKING POINTS
· What are the short and long-term impacts of the recent Australian asylum seeker policies on people already deeply traumatised? Why should Australians be concerned about that?
· How do soldiers and civilians cope with stress in wars when escape is not an option?
· What long-term impact do wars and acts of collective violence have on the fabric of society?
· How does it feel to live during times of post-conflict peace?
· What are the psychological costs of war? Why are they rarely spoken of?
· What it feels like to be foreign in Australia, nineteen years on. Is it possible to change the inner landscape of one’s thinking in the midst of pain and suffering?
· How might someone with a traumatic past have a future that is different?
· Can someone function in a ‘normal’ way after the massive trauma and dislocation of war? What happens to these people once the events are over?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Ivana Milojević is a researcher and writer with an extensive background in sociology, gender, peace and future studies. Born in the former Yugoslavia, she migrated to Australia in the 1990s.
Milojević’s work has been widely published, and she has authored, co-authored, and co-edited several books, including: Ko se boji vuka još? Moćne priče za pametne i odvažne [Who is Afraid of the Big, Bad, Wolf? Awesome Stories for the Courageous and Curious] (2012); Uvod u rodne teorije [Introduction to Gender Theories] (2011); Alternative Educational Futures: Pedagogies for an Emergent World (2008); Neohumanist Educational Futures: Liberating the Pedagogical Intellect (2006); Educational Futures: Dominant and Contesting Visions (2005); and Moving Forward: Teachers and Students Against Racism (2001).
Milojević is also the author of over sixty academic articles and book chapters, many of which are available at http://www.metafuture.org/;
ABOUT THE SERIES
‘New Approaches to Peace and Conflict’ builds on the wisdom of the first wave of peace researchers while addressing important 21st century challenges to peace, human rights and sustainable development. The series will publish new theory, new research and new strategies for effective peacebuilding and the transformation of violent conflict.
Please contact me If you would like to receive a review copy/PDF or interview the author.
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