Period After – A Review. Media and Culture, Integration and Political Life in Southeast Europe
"Period After" is an independent project started by Public Netbase under the lead management and main responsibility of Micz Flor, German networker and media activist, and with a range of loose collaborators and authors. The project was initiated as a reaction to NATO intervention at that time in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia) in 1999. Although it turned out to be a short-lived project, "Period After" was conceived as an initiative "focusing on the long term development in the Balkan region, related to media, contemporary culture and the potential and real consequences of the ongoing crisis. Issues of multi-ethnic collaboration and integration are central to Period After. It will support and collaborate with independent voices and organizations across the Balkan region who are momentarily under severe pressure caused by propaganda, shortages and disintegration of their social and material environment and the consequences of the humanitarian catastrophe of the air-strikes". The project's web site (http://periodafter.t0.or.at) gathered different kinds of postings, articles, interviews, legal analyses, statements, personal diaries, which all had, so to say, two aims: Depicting social, political, cultural and media scene in Serbia which was not easily accessible to the international audience and empowering experts and ordinary citizens in this situation by means of new media tools and the internet. The web site also contains a call for contribution and call for help with translations, since this platform used to be published in three different languages: Serbian, English and German. Soon after, this initiative was accompanied by a Mailinglist, which was "dealing with diverse topics regarding the period after the Kosovo conflict". The list encouraged open, non moderated discussion, collected opinions and funneled suggestions for the future development in South Eastern Europe. Within the project, streaming media from Belgrade have been organized as well, which were broadcasted back through ORF channel. Besides "virtual" support, the project gave a hand to many artists and cultural practitioners from Serbia "in flesh", offering them conditions and resources to continue their work in Vienna, in Public Netbase offices.
Although there have been ambivalent opinions about NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999, what could be said almost 10 years afterwards is that this never-resolved-crisis has left many doubts in the global perspective on the problem, where many standpoints are made on the basis of "depoliticized human rights". As Žižek said, NATO intervention has been cloaked and justified exclusively in the depoliticized language of universal human rights, meaning that men and women are no longer political subjects, but helpless victims, robbed of all political identity and reduced to their naked suffering, which he considers to be NATO's construct. Therefore, "the intervention" has been justified, and the men and women of Kosovo were victimized, while those of Serbia were called to account for approving the Milošević regime or not opposing it strongly enough. Of course, such a generalization shouldn't be possible and, although it raises the question of valid political struggle today, distinctions should be made in favor of those who at that time in Serbia and the Balkan region tried to introspect global and local circumstances and to oppose both international interventionism and internal violent nationalism, i.e. to re-politicize the problem of that conflict.
Above all, the project "Period After" made an impossible demand for free media and objective reporting of the events during the crisis in Serbia and the Balkan region. It witnessed a clash between the traditional media controlled by the oppressing Serbian regime and free and independent media which became demonized, prosecuted and closed. On the other hand, already established monopoly concerning the internet providers services in Serbia diminished the promise of the political potential for freedom over the internet as a mean of unlimited communication, which has already at that time been globally revealed. Still, the significance of such a project could be seen in an attempt to regain and locate still existing niches in on-line communication channels, which could connect people, reconstruct stories and create dispositions for potential small-scale reintegration processes outside of representational strategies of dominant political and media regimes.