University conference explores Balkan legacy

A famous actor will take the stage to explore the legacy of the Bosnian War at a ground-breaking conference.

Conference organiser Dr Peter Billingham, political playwright and professor in Modern Drama at the University of Winchester, will be quizzed by actor and director Richard Wilson, best known as Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave.

It is through Wilson’s role as director of an acclaimed production of the late Sarah Kane’s controversial play Blasted – her response to the Bosnian War – that he will participate in a Q&A session with Professor Billingham.

The University of Winchester hosts the two-day conference focusing on the legacy of the Balkan region this week.

The conference title, ‘I too, remember dust’: Peace-building, Politics and the Arts, was inspired by the poem ‘In the Daytime’ by Romanian-Jewish Auschwitz survivor Paul Celan.

Members of the arts world – including the playwright David Edgar – will attend alongside academics from the university and beyond, who specialise in peace-politics, arts, culture and the history of the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

“The timing of this important, truly international conference is significant,” said Professor Billingham. “The Balkans have long been Europe’s tinderbox – the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo sparked the First World War, and the former Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s saw genocide on a terrible scale.

“It’s easy to forget that this year is the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. This is a fitting time to bring together delegates from communities on each side of the cultural divide to recognise Bosnia’s central significance as a symbol of wider international conflict, and to strengthen the bridge-building initiatives that have emanated from the region and are so crucial to rekindling a lasting peace both locally and further afield.”

John Keenan


John Keenan

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