In the 1990s series of wars broke out in Yugoslavia (then known as a socialist republic of Yugoslavia). The Bosnian war was considered one of the bloodiest Yugoslavian wars. The death of a strong leader Josip Tito in 1980, growing economic deterioration, rising nationalism and fall of communism fed into the intensification of ethnic tensions between three major ethnic groups; Croats, Muslim Bosniaks, and Serbs. The Bosnian war officially began in 1992 when the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed an independence referendum. However, local Serbs in Bosnia were against independence. With the support of the Serbian government and Yugoslavian national army, many local Serbs started revolting and took control over several towns in Bosnia. Drunk with the desire to show their military superiority to the Bosniaks and the West, the local Serbs struggle for securing ethnic Serb territory soon took the shape of the ethnic cleansing; it became prominently evident during the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre. Consequently, when the war ended in 1995, around 1.2 million Bosnians had fled the country (half a million registered as refugees in Western Europe).
Mersiha Mesihoivc was one such Bosnian refugee who fled to Sweden in 1995. Marked by the loss of home and family members (grandmother and grandfather died in Bosnia), Mersiha has drawn upon her refugee experience to nurture her artistic skills as a dancer, choreographer, and cultural organiser. Combining choreography, music, and unique dance movements, Mersiha explores the themes of nationalism, racism, and patriarchy in an aesthetically powerful way. Through her refreshing artistic style, she has earned international support from New Dance Alliance, New York Foundation for the Arts etc. Moreover, she has also got an opportunity to work with many celebrated artists such as Ohad Naharin, Colin Connor, Trisha Brown, Rami Beer, Karen Bernard, Reggie Wilson, Visnja Krzic, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and James Brandon Lewis. Recently she has also been acknowledged by TheWorldDances.com as “Rising NYC Choreographer.”