New Diversities • Volume 21, No. 1, 2019

New Solidarities: Migration, Mobility, Diaspora, and Ethnic Tolerance in Southeast Europe

Guest Editor: Tamara Pavasović Trošt (University of Ljubljana)

List of Contents

Tamara Pavasović Trošt (Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
New Solidarities: Migration, Mobility, Diaspora, and Ethnic Tolerance in Southeast Europe

The social landscape in Southeast Europe has changed dramatically over the past twenty years: increased globalization, new migration and mobility patterns, the refugee crises, economic uncertainty, and the emergence of other salient identities, have all influenced the region dramatically. However, while the continent-wide increase in Euroskepticism, right-wing populism, and disillusionment with globalization points to the need for examining new solidarities and new permutations of difference, research on the effects of these social changes is scarce. In the following articles, we examine the new cleavages and new solidarities created by these changes: effects of global phenomena such as international youth exchange programs, music/film festivals, language, diaspora and dual citizenship, and migration, and the ways in which they are assuaging or amplifying ethnic tolerance in the region, exploring both the determinants of these societal changes, as well as the effects of the changes: emerging political issues and cleavages, new intersections of identities, and new forms of ethnic (in)tolerance.

Antonina Anisimovich (Edge Hill University’s Department of Media)
Solidarity on the Margins: The Role of Cinema-Related Initiatives in Encouraging Diversity and Inclusivity in Post-1989 Bulgaria

In the light of the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, hate speech directed at refugees and ethnic minorities in mainstream Bulgarian media has increased. As a response, several recent cinema-related grassroots initiatives in the capital city Sofia are challenging such negative representations and establishing a more open and constructive dialogue with the Other. I argue that such events have the potential to create interzones or conflictual dialogic spaces (Halle 2014), where the public sphere is constructed from below, providing an alternative to mainstream media and political discourse. Adopting the theoretical framework proposed by Schober (2013), this paper evaluates the political potential of cinematic events in creating a public space for encountering the Other, both physically (in the same cinema hall) and symbolically (through representations on screen). I focus on one such initiative, a series of film screenings organised by The House of Cinema and The Refugee Project in Sofia, examining the House of Cinema’s potential in promoting diversity by challenging the xenophobic mainstream discourse promoted in media.

Keywords: Bulgarian cinema, Bulgarian media, European identity, postcolonial studies, collective memory, national identity, refugee crisis, othering

Marika Djolai (Independent Scholar)
Community, Identity and Locality in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Understanding New Cleavages

The predominant view in the literature on post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina is that the war has mobilized multi-layered discourses of nationhood and permanently transformed people’s identities to ethnic. This view disregards many other identities that people developed through life projects in the past two decades, and tends to simplify otherwise complex social dynamics, particularly at the community level. This includes the influence of migration, mobility, diaspora, and above- and below-ethnic identifications, technologies, educational experiences, consumer/labour markets, gender norms, leisure opportunities and fashions (Mandić and Trošt 2017), producing new identities and cleavages. This paper focuses on geographic community and proposes a concept of identity of place; this is attached to home communities and identity of experience, which are brought about by forced displacement and post-war migration leading to life away from home communities. Drawing on the concepts of translocality and transcommunality, the paper argues that the drivers of cleavages should be sought in the identity of place and strength of commitment and connection with the home community. When the identity of place is weakened and taken over by the identity of experience, the bond and commitment one has to home communities dissipates and results in the cleavage between the permanent residents in the community and migrants. Lastly, the paper draws particular attention to the nuances of new, post-war resident heterogeneity. The study uses data from eighteen months of fieldwork and mixed methods data collection in two small towns, Stolac in Southern Herzegovina and Kotor Varoš in Northern Bosnia, between 2012 and 2013.

Keywords: translocal, transcommunal, identity, cleavages, ethnicity, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mina Hristova (Bulgarian Academy of Science)
In-between Spaces: Dual Citizenship and Placebo Identity at the Triple Border between Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria

This paper examines identity strategizing in the border region between Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria, focusing on the processes which affect the young generation’s decision-making. I first examine the case of the Bulgarian minority in Bosilegrad, Serbia, where citizens live in a constructed “own” heterotopic space, belonging neither to Serbia, nor Bulgaria; locals, and especially young people, create fluid identities for themselves which help them to inhabit the vague spaces “in-between” national and ethnic identities, state borders, internal and external “others”. Second, I look at young Macedonians in Kriva Palanka, Macedonia, where cross-border nation-making politics create a different heterotopia: of youth at the edge of the Balkan states, who live both here and now, but also elsewhere – in the imaginary and future “West”, a “promised land” that will remedy them from the disappointments of their reality. They live in a state of standby migration characterized by their latent state, guided by the decision and the first steps towards migration; a phenomenon I call placebo identity.

Keywords: young people, identity, standby migration, dual citizenship, Serbia, Macedonia.

Dragana Kovačević Bielicki
“Crazy”, or Privileged Enough to Return?: Exploring Voluntary Repatriation to Bosnia and Herzegovina from “the West”

This article presents the results of a small-scale research study with people who chose to repatriate to post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina from six countries of the so-called West. I analyze the narratives of the individual reasons and perceived conditions of the voluntary return, experiences, and reactions encountered, and reflections on the sustainability of such return, demonstrating that multiple important practical and emotional reasons need to come together for the return to occur and to last. The research shows the predominantly open-ended, and in many ways privileged, nature of the investigated repatriation: repatriation is a viable option only if returnees can benefit from it socially, economically and emotionally, and potential re-emigration is thus a common back-up plan. The article demonstrates the importance of examining how returnees’ skills, savings, networks, and education – in addition to perceived ethno-national sameness “back home” – in understanding the reasons for and attitudes toward voluntary repatriation.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina, forced displacement, voluntary return/repatriation, privilege, nation-thinking

Maja Savić-Bojanić and Jana Jevtić (both Sarajevo School of Science and Technology)
Ethnic Solidarities, Networks, and the Diasporic Imaginary: The Case of “Old” and “New” Bosnian Diaspora in the United States

This ethnographic study examines ethnic solidarities, networks and the diasporic imaginary of Bosnians who settled in the United States up until the early 2000s. While the elders cling on to the “old” pre-existing narratives of belonging as shaped by one’s ethno-religious identity, we argue that many diasporic youths have a “new” Americanized perspective on what it means to be Bosnian abroad. They not only question the symbolic value of ethnicity, but also the importance of country-of-origin background, on the one hand, and ties with their “co-ethnics”, on the other. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork and twenty lived histories of Bosniak diaspora during their visit to Banja Luka, Tuzla and Sarajevo, this paper pushes forward a discussion on ethnic solidarities that goes beyond the considerations of Dayton-imposed identity formation, questioning how post-war affiliations are informed by ethnic attitudes in young adults living abroad. It contributes to existing discussions on transnational spaces, connections and practices, by showing that both time and space of one’s settlement greatly shape the identities of what we define as the “old” and the “new” Bosnian diaspora.

Keywords: ethnic solidarities, diasporic imaginary, Bosnians, Bosnian diaspora, networks, generations, ethnicity.

Tatjana Takševa (Saint Mary’s University, Canada)
Post-war Yugoslavism and Yugonostalgia as Expressions of Multiethnic Solidarity and Tolerance in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Grounded in empirical research conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina based on autoethnographic observations, interviews with women survivors of war rape, children who were born of war rape, and NGO leaders, this discussion extends current work on Yugoslavism (Jugoslovenstvo) and Yugonostalgia by positioning the two interrelated discourses not only as ideologies of resistance to an unsatisfying political and economic present, but also as emerging ideologies of a shared cultural identity rooted specifically in the civic values of multiethnic co-existence and solidarity. I argue that in today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina post-conflict Yugoslavism and Yugonostalgia constitute an active expression of ethnic tolerance, peaceful multiethnic co-existence and mutual respect. As such, the direct or indirect transmission and articulation of these ideologies among and within different population groups constitute an exceptionally important form of multiethnic postwar solidarity that is of great significance to ongoing peace and reconciliation processes and the continuing development of a meaningful post-war dialogue and a new culture of collective identity.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina, peace, conflict, Yugoslavia, Yugoslavism, Yugonostalgia, diversity, ethnicity, collective identity