The Croatian Institute of Lexicography of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Mostar has recently published, in cooperation with the Synopsis publishing agency, the second volume of the Croatian Encyclopedia of Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus continuing the most ambitious encyclopaedic project in the country.
The project was initiated in 1999 by the Croatian cultural society "Napredak", the Croatian Society for Arts and Sciences from Sarajevo, Mostar University, the Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna, the "Matica hrvatska" Croatian cultural society, the Sarajevo Archdiocese and the Croat Expatriate Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The project is designed to result in a four-volume encyclopedia and judging by its pace so far, it is expected to be completed in the next 12 years.
The second volume was published with the financial support of the Croatian Culture Ministry and the State Office for Croats Abroad.
The 711-page publication contains 1,655 entries, 820 photographs and 38 maps. The entries are in alphabetical order from letter E to letter J, continuing on the previous volume published in 2009 with entries from letter A to letter Đ.
The editor of the encyclopedia is academician Jakov Pehar.
The coordinator of the second volume, writer Ivan Lovrenovic, said that the coordination work was particularly demanding as it required focusing on the most important historical, political, cultural, scientific and religious topics related to the life of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He said that all topics had to be dealt with through the format of big encyclopaedic articles and that some of the topics were approached for the first time from the perspective of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Possibly the most important such article is one on the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first of the kind, Lovrenovic said.
That text, consisting of more than 50 pages, brings a chronological overview of the history of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, noting that they affirm their identity simultaneously in two ways - as being an integral part of the sociocultural context of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which they share and shape with Bosniaks and Serbs, and as part of the general Croatian national culture with its polycentric and plural character.
The Croatian Encyclopedia of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not suffer from the syndrome of political correctness, which is best evidenced by how it approaches topics from the more recent past. It defines the World War II Independent State of Croatia (NDH) as "a short and dark episode" in the history of the Croatian people, noting that "coming to terms with its totalitarian ideology and practice in a truth-loving way" is a precondition for building a harmonious national identity.
The publication also deals with the 1990s war and Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country and one of the assessments in the publication is that the Croat people in that country is today faced with a possibility of becoming a neglectable political and demographic factor.
The encyclopaedia is designed to describe all aspects of the life of the Croat ethnic community in Bosnia and Herzegovina through terms and processes shaping the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as present information related to a broader historical, political, cultural and ethnic context of the Croat community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries.