Valentina Gentile

From Identity-Conflict to Civil Society

Restoring human dignity and Pluralism in deeply divided Societies

In societies like Bosnia or Rwanda, deep divisions along ethnic and religious lines and the legacy of years of atrocities and violence pose serious challenges to liberal forms of consensus. People do not recognise themselves asmembers of a political community, and identity politics is pursued at the expense of liberal democratic projects and reconciliation programmes. This book explores the nature and role of civil society in deeply divided societies. Civil society is presented here as the spherewhere a shared ‘culture of civility’ emerges. The ‘culture of civility’ enables individuals to become part of a community of citizens and accept to reciprocate on the basis of some basic universal values, such as the protection of human dignity. The last chapter on Bosnia shows that relevance of civil society crucially depends on its capacity to represent the sphere where individuals are able to recognize and deal with transitional issues by appealing to the Bosnian ‘culture of civility’ and developing a sense of justice based on a shared understanding of the idea of human dignity.