Sarajevo Survival Guide

Year of Production
Location of Production
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Printed Guidebook (text/photographs)
Original Language
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996: How to survive in an urban environment under impossible conditions.
Research Period
1992 - 1993
United States and Globally
First of its kind in the world – a Michelin style guidebook containing 30 thematic survival categories. Packaged to provide practical advice and tips including those on how to find water, make French fries without potatoes, cross dangerous intersections escaping sniper-fire, and prepare yourself for mental survival.
Bosnian version of the original Guide was not published as a separate edition – it was translated and adapted for Encyclopaedia: The Siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996 project.


Author of the project
Suada Kapic
Miroslav Prstojevic
Zeljko Puljic
Nenad Dogan
Maja Razovic and Aleksandra Wagner
Aleksandra Wagner with Ellen Elias-Bursac
Printed in
Zagreb, Croatia
© FAMA International


Because of their influence, those who watch, observe, analyse and explain meaning to the masses are considered a kind of elite; however if this elite use faulty methodology or have impure intentions, it can lead to disastrous consequences. We, the founders of FAMA, the first independent multi-media company in the former Yugoslavia, were fully aware of the sensitivity of the area in which we chose to invest. From the very beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, we knew that documentation, of all types and forms, would play a vital role in the fate of current and future generations. In keeping with our own personal principles, our methods rely on fact, oral history and recorded documentation (documented documents). It is through our unique insight and gift of foresight that we have been able to develop a step by step methodology that 'makes the obvious visible'.

Gaining insight. This involves watching events attentively with an open mind as an observer rather than a participant, in order to note significant elements of the observed phenomenon; then putting these elements together to identify early signs of any emerging dominant trends that might launch a new process of cause and effect.

Continuing research through oral history. Those who participated in an observed event talk about their own experience of it, without commenting on other participants. These elements are recorded in photo/video format.

Structuring the research. Putting first hand facts and documented documents of a particular event, period or phenomenon into a structure that transfers this knowledge in a form acceptable to an audience, devoid of any indicators that would point to a conclusion. Readers, viewers, students, researchers draw their own conclusions on the basis of the given format.

Converting the structure. This phase involves producing a format suitable for mass production (maps, albums, films, encyclopedias).

Creating a study pack. We have created an educational pack consisting of different sections that can be used for different levels of education, as our unique contribution to the interpretation of the period 1991-1999.

Sarajevo Survival Guide

The project is especially significant because it anticipated that what was happening in Sarajevo in 1992 could easily happen anywhere in the world anytime soon (terror, destruction of urban environment due to human activities or workings of the nature, seeking alternative sources of energy, the philosophy of survival). Indeed, the project originated from the need to teach the world about the phenomena of siege and survival, and the incredible potential of human nature which could oppose the terrible four-year destruction with creation, intelligence, and work as a law of survival. The City of New York released its Survival Guide in 2005. When our project was presented in New York in 1994, it was widely read and quoted by sophisticated circles who understood its universal importance. But it was not present in the mass-media. However, in 2005, due to the catastrophe that struck New York on 11 September 2001, the Survival Guide was seen as the need of our time. In fact, all this is about accepting the reality with an open mind. Because we can be sure that the human mind and nature will find solutions for grave crisis or total destruction. Sarajevo proved that this is possible.

About the project

Our Survival Guide was the first of its type in the the world. We collected tips, documents, stories, and interviews in order to archive possibilities of survival in an urban area after disasters caused by humans or nature. How to survive in a city in which a prewar civilization had disappeared, the infrastructure is destroyed, energy flows are interrupted, and the communication with the outside world is cut off?

How to survive in a city without water, electricity, heating, food, transportation, schools, jobs, safe living spaces? How to survive a disaster? We investigated these issues in the meantime introduced as the subject of study by many institutions. The Guide is only a part of our Survival project, the unique 'bank of knowledge' because knowing whether water itself or water purification pills should be sent to devastated areas save hours and days precious to those for whose survival the help is needed (as in the case of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami in Asia). The Survival Guide and the entire FAMA project offer answers to this, and many similar questions.

"How to survive, but also how to die in the city? This is the first guide that led to the end of our too lightly taken roaming around the world. It will definitely change our geographical perspective and our moral of a traveller. At the end of the century, and perhaps the history, we must adopt a different insight to the one that once begun with Nietzsche and today continues with Sloterdijk: Project Humanity is under suspicion and may be said to have failed. This guide is likely to deepen our sorrow, but it could also quell the false optimism of charitable games. There is no help. There are no rescue teams or life-belts: an ambulance is the first target, and the Red Cross mark on your sleeve is a suicidal call for those who will shoot you. That's why we have to stay where we are. Sarajevo cannot be brought out – that would be a futile and meaningless effort. That what remains of Sarajevo's hidden meaning is falling apart before the eyes of the world; nothing can be described save the description itself. So let's not desribe the city, not even its dignified, insidious death. " (Introduction to Survival Guide published in 1993 – Bora Cosic, Survival Guide, 1993).

Later on, all these projects demostrated our chosen method as the key for documenting events ift hey are to serve as a valuable contribution to interpretation of and learning about the 1991-1999 period in the former Yugoslavia. Besides its educational role, the project has also proved as a significant contribution to the processes of truth and reconciliation, as well as to the democratization process of our post-war society.