Mapping and Memory in Banja Luka

  • Jelena Stankovic

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


How does a place known itself? One of the ways a place knows itself is how it is represented on maps where we can see its cartographic history & identity. People draw maps in order to understand the city in which they live.

The research presented in this thesis is in two parts:

- Collecting and indexing all the maps of Banja Luka, beginning with the first maps of Banja Luka from the Ottoman times. These maps are scattered all around the world. This is the first time the research on collecting and indexing maps of Banja Luka has been done. This thesis is the only place where this comprehensive ‘collection’ of maps of Banja Luka exists.

- Drawing new maps of Banja Luka. There are two types of maps in this thesis: cartographic reconstructions and memory maps. The reconstructions record the Banja Luka that never made it into the cartographic history due to the turbulent political history of the city. Of the memory maps, there are also two types. There are personal and individual memory maps and collective memory maps. The individual memory maps are based on my own memory and the memory of the people I love, representing Banja Luka that I remember - that is there for me. The collective memory maps record Banja Luka based on the collective memory already recorded in archive materials, representing Banja Luka that I imagine - that is not there for me. There were difficulties in drawing them as they required the integration of texts, photographs and maps which had to be collected and brought together into one place. Each document about Banja Luka differs in details, especially because of changing building and street names, so compiling these sources which complement each other was how these maps were drawn. This section uses Halbwachs’ theory of individual and collective memory, which is never associated with the process of mapping. The problem of changing street names that appeared in the process of making these maps draws on Freud’s account of forgetting proper names.

The thesis begins with a summary of the political history of Banja Luka, which introduces the social and cartographic problems this research was confronted with. There is no continuous cartographic history of Banja Luka of the sort that one would expect to find in other, more stable regions, because Banja Luka has never been in control of its own destiny since it has been wrecked by internecine conflicts.

There were difficulties in finding and collating and indexing the maps of Banja Luka. It was necessary to identify map collections through the selected countries in whose archives, museums and libraries they might have been stored. The selection involves the countries under whose authority Banja Luka was in the past [e.g. Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia...]; the leading countries with a prominent collection of maps [e.g. United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain ...]; the countries which had business connections with Banja Luka in the past [e.g. the Czech Republic...]. Until now, there has been no central point of reference for the maps of Banja Luka. When the maps are brought together, it is possible to categorize them into spy maps and cartographic [conventional] maps. Spy maps are free hand maps made by military agents [mostly Austrians] who secretly mapped their visual inspections of Banja Luka, when the city was under the Ottoman Empire. Cartographic maps are conventional maps drawn by cartographers. They are accurate representations of Banja Luka made by using geodetic instruments and methods and are understandable to everyone because of the north orientation, scale, and recognizable symbols.

The main points of the research in this thesis are: Halbwachs’s idea that individual memory depends on collective memory was born out on my memory maps. My memory map could not have been done without the records and memories of others. The value of memory maps is that they prevent the Banja Luka that I imagine and the Banja Luka that I remember from being forgotten, creating an idealized cartography of the city. The ideal Banja Luka is the one which has a continuity in its history and spatial form - the continuity we hope to achieve.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLorens Holm (Supervisor) & Charles Rattray (Supervisor)


  • Mapping memory

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