Volume 10, No. 3, Art. 22 – September 2009

Construction of Ethnic Belonging in the Context of Former Yugoslavia—the Case of a Migrant from Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sonja Grün

Abstract: This article deals with the question of the change and continuity of ethnic and national constructs of belonging in the context of former Yugoslavia with special emphasis on Bosnia-Herzegovina. I am taking a biographical analytical approach. This allows me to reconstruct the process of the development and transformation, as well as the continuity of ethnic and national constructs of belonging. Moreover, this approach also allows an analysis of these phenomena in their genesis. Based on a case study, it will be demonstrated how ethnic and national belongings developed, how they changed, and how under some circumstances they exhibit a certain continuity. In doing so, the interplay between the past and the present as well as the intra-biographical and societal developments were analyzed. I came to the conclusion that the biographer formed a supra-ethnical Yugoslavian construct of belonging which was maintained despite the migration experience.

Key words: migration; Bosnia-Herzegovina; biographical research; constructions; sense of ethnic belonging

Table of Contents

1. Preface

2. Categories of Ethnic and National Constructs of Belonging in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Former Yugoslavia

3. Ethnicity as a Social Construct

4. Jasna Kulenović: "We always were in favor of that Yugoslavia …" Construction and Re-construction of a Yugoslavian Sense of Belonging in the Context of War and Migration

4.1 Methodological approach

4.2 The case of Jasna Kulenović

4.2.1 Integration into Yugoslavia's socialistic society

4.2.2 Transformation of the Yugoslavian construct of belonging in the context of war and migration

4.2.3 Ethnicization of the Bosnian society—"Ethnicization of the biography"

5. Conclusion






1. Preface

This article is based on the findings of my Master's thesis entitled "Ethnic and national belongings of migrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina. A biographical case study." The thesis was written as part of a larger research project "Biography and Ethnicity." [1]

Within the framework of this Master's thesis, I chose to concentrate on the Yugoslavian constituent of Bosnia and Herzegovina since it was the ethnically most heterogeneous federal unit constituting the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The question of ethnic and national belonging thus was of significant relevance. In this case, compared to other Yugoslavian conflicts (Croatia 1991-1995), the acts of war during the years 1992-1995 most strongly and dramatically impacted the inter-ethnic relationships and consequently both the change and the reinterpretation of ethnic and national constructs of belonging. In this article, I will discuss the question of how ethnic and national belongings among Bosnian migrants develop during their lifespan, under what circumstances they change, and which biographical functions were and continue to be fulfilled. [2]

A biographical methodology is most suitable for analysis of constantly changing ethnic and national self-attributions and attribution by others. Moreover, social phenomena can be examined with regard to their own genesis. However, a biography not only reflects the processes of ethnic self-attribution and attribution by others of Bosnian immigrants, but also points to developments of collective history that have contributed to the formation and change of ethnic and national belongings in former Yugoslavia and especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [3]

In the framework of my Master's thesis, I interviewed a total of five persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina that live in Germany: two middle aged women, a young man and a young woman, who came to Germany in the context of the war in former Yugoslavia in 1992, and a young man whose father came to Germany as a guest worker. [4]

The examination of a selected case demonstrates how, through biographical intrinsic as well as extrinsic social influences, the constructions and sense of ethnic belonging developed and changed during the biographer's life. [5]

Before discussing the single case at length in chapter four, categories of ethnic and national constructs of belonging in the context of former Yugoslavia will be addressed. Then there will be a discussion of how constructions of ethnicity can be linked to the concept of biography and made visible through it. [6]

2. Categories of Ethnic and National Constructs of Belonging in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Former Yugoslavia

According to BRINGA (1995, p.22), the predominant Western concept of "ethnic group" in contrast to "nation" refers to a group of people that shares specific cultural traits, a history, and a territory. An ethnic group can either overlap with the nation that is defined in the nation-state or be a minority within a nation state. GELLNER (1983, p.55) points out that "nations can indeed be defined in terms both of will and culture, and indeed in terms of convergence of them both with political units […] the fusion of will, culture and polity becomes the norm." In the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, no difference was made between ethnic group and nation; instead, the nation was defined as an ethnic group that either already has its own state or is still waiting to form its own state (BRINGA, 1995, p.22). [7]

In addition to this ethnic Yugoslavian idea of state, a national Yugoslavism was officially supported and propagated. In other words, the citizens could identify themselves as Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Macedonians, Albanians, etc. in an ethno-national sense as well as Yugoslavians in a political sense (SUNDHAUSSEN, 2004a, p.326). Socialist Yugoslavia should not be considered a nation state according to the Western European perception, but much more a "state of nationalities," since in a "state of nationalities there is not one single state carrying nation, but an array of formally equal nationalities that struggle […] over supremacy (or political equality) (FRANCIS,1965, p.181; my translation). [8]

The concept of a "state of nationalities" originated from Stalin's policy toward nationalities in the former Soviet Union. Based on this policy. states like the Soviet Union or the former Yugoslavia arranged the different groups within the population according to a categorical hierarchy that guaranteed them national rights. Yugoslavia was a multinational federation with a tripartide system of national rights: [9]

The first category was composed of Yugoslavia's nations (Jugoslovenski narodi). In total, these were six nations (Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Muslims), which were separated into their "home republics." Each nation thus had its "home republic," with the exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was the home republic for three nations. These were the Serbs, Croats and Muslims, none of whom identified themselves on an ethnological basis with the Bosnian Republic. The second category encompassed Yugoslavia's nationalities (narodnosti), which had legal warranty to their own language and cultural assertion. Contrary to the narodi, each nationality had its "home republic" outside of Yugoslavia. In total, there were ten such nationalities, including Albanians and Hungarians. [10]

The third category encompassed "other nationalities and ethnic minorities." These included Jews, Vlachs, Greeks, Russians, and those who declared themselves as "Yugoslavs" (BRINGA, 1995, pp.25-27). In this last category, "Yugoslav" is conceived in a somewhat narrower sense than in the broadly composed sense of citizenry previously mentioned. [11]

At the census that took place approximately every decade, the "ethnically mixed persons"— mostly persons of inter-ethnic marriages, for example, between Croats and Serbs or Muslims and Serbs, had the option to choose the neutral category of "Yugoslavian." Also Muslims, who did not receive the status of a narod until 1971, often selected this option to declare themselves as "Yugoslavs."1) [12]

Apart from these governmental classifications and definitions, there were also locally established ethno-national categories. Primarily in rural Bosnia the term nacija survived for a long time as a self-label for an ethno-religious group (according to BRINGA, this lasted until the war in 1992). The differentiation between the terms nacija (=ethno-religious group) and narod (=nation/peoples) can be traced back to the Ottoman Rule in fourteenth century southeastern Europe. During this rule, the population was divided into so-called "millets," based on a religious-ethnic system of autonomous authorities under which Christians, Jews, and Muslims were organized (KASER, 1999, pp.64-66). The legacy of this millet system is characteristic for Bosnia and Herzegovina, since there was a complete overlap between the notion of a separate nation and the membership in a certain religious community, the nacija. However, an overlap between state and nation does not exist here. Consequently, the Ottoman millet system created collective cultural identities based upon religious affiliation. Bosnia's three nacije thus were the Muslims, the Catholics and the Orthodox. If one then attempts to transfer the concept of an "ethnic group" and "nation" according to the Western European sense of these words to Bosnia and Herzegovina it might happen, that local perceptions of ethno-national categories are ignored or distorted, as was often the case during reportage of the war from 1992-1995. Terms such as "ethnic group" or "nation" were not used locally before the war (BRINGA, 1995, pp.21-22). [13]

Until the outbreak of the war, the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina emphasized the heterogeneous sources of their identity and merely added it to another identity, so that a homogeneous, higher level Bosnian identity never could be constructed ideologically and institutionally to transcend this. The imposed Yugoslavian collective identity thus was inseparable from Tito's Yugoslavian nation and was only accepted by a minority, albeit primarily in Bosnia (BRINGA, 1995, p.32). [14]

3. Ethnicity as a Social Construct

After having discussed the definitions and classifications of ethnic belonging particularly in the constituent republic Bosnia and Herzegovina as established locally and by the government, the following section will demonstrate, why a biographical-theoretical approach is especially suitable for the analysis of continuity and change of constructs of ethnic belonging. [15]

First, I will try to show that phenomena such as "ethnicity," "nationality" or "ethnic/national belonging" are social constructs. The "structure of the life-world" notion will then be illustrated more closely, followed by an explanation why it is suitable to link biography with phenomena such as "ethnicity." [16]

Over the last decades, there has been a general agreement in the social sciences that "ethnicity […] is not substantial or even essential, but […] created in a process of the according development of consciousness" (KÖßLER, 1995, p.2; my translation). [17]

A forerunner of the social constructionist model of ethnicity can be found already before the Second World War in WEBER's essay "Ethnische Gemeinschaftsbeziehungen" [Ethnic communities] in the volume "Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft" (1922/1978). In this work, WEBER formulates the thought that an ethnic group is based on the common belief of its members that they share the same origin, regardless of how closely related they may be. He differentiates between "ethnic community" and "clan community," since the community as such is only an imagined "community" but not a real "community" like a clan/tribe that is based upon real communal action. WEBER states (1922/1978, p.389):

"Ethnic membership does not constitute a group; it only facilitates group formation of any kind, particularly in the political sphere. On the other hand, it is primarily the political community, no matter how artificially organized, that inspires the belief in common ethnicity." [18]

Alluding to WEBER's thoughts, JENKINS concludes that the belief of a common origin is not the cause but the consequence of collective political activity. Thus, people feel as if they belong together because they act together. Collective interests do not evolve out of commonalities and differences between people; ethnic identification is rather formed out of the pursuance of collective interests (JENKINS, 1997, p.10). Following WEBER (1922/1978) and HUGHES (1948/1994, pp.91-96),2) JENKINS concludes that ethnic groups are what people believe them to be, whereas cultural differences do not cause but merely mark this group consciousness. Consequently, ethnic identification evolves out of and through interactions between groups (JENKINS, 1997, p.11). [19]

According to BARTH (1969), the most important characteristic for ethnicity is not the separation of cultural commonalities but the boundary-making between ethnic groups and the criterion of "attribution." Despite inter-ethnic contact and interaction, cultural differences remain rather than melt into a common culture (p.15). Ethnic groups thus are a form of social organization (pp.11-13). [20]

According to BARTH's understanding, ethnicity is a very flexible situational category, since belonging to an ethnic category implies being judged while judging others at the same time according to the standards that are relevant for this identity. "The features, that are taken into account, are not the sum of 'objective' differences, but only those which the actors themselves regard as significant" (p.14). [21]

As such, ethnicity can have a different meaning for the social organization of groups in different contexts. The emphasis thereby lies on "attribution" as the determining criterion for ethnic groups. Cultural traits, that mark the boundaries can change just like the group's organization depending on the situation (p.14). [22]

Even, or especially, during times of social change, ethnic boundary making can turn out to be very stable and continuous. Therefore, one should not only ask the question how ethnic boundaries are created or change, but also scrutinize how ethnic boundaries exist and can be maintained over time. In this regard, ERIKSEN (2002) considers ethnic symbolism, which refers to traditional language, religion, kinship systems, and folkways, to be crucial. Because ethnic identities create continuity with the past and therefore can serve as support and orientation for individuals during insecure times:

"[...] they seem to tell people that although 'all that is solid melts into air' (Marx) there is an unchanging, stable core of ethnic belongingness which assures the individual of a continuity with the past, which can be an important source of self respect and personal authenticity in the modern world, which is often perceived as a world of flux and make-believe. If one can claim to 'have a culture,' it proves that one is faithful to one's ancestors and to the past." (ERIKSEN, 2002, p.68) [23]

Anthony D. SMITH (1986) argues that modern ethnic ideologies, especially nationalisms, have identifiable, "objective" cultural roots in historically stable ethnos; thus, the cultural continuity with the past, which is emphasized by ethnic ideologists and national historians, is not only pure "make-believe" and a manipulative invention of the past. SMITH thus maintains that there is indeed continuity with the past, even though nations and ethnic movements are modern phenomena. [24]

Following the positions taken by ERIKSEN and SMITH, it can be stated that while the group history might often be exploited for contemporary means, it does not automatically imply that "anything goes."3) The potential of exploiting the past in the present is limited. History thus should not only be dealt with as a construct in the present but also be explored as such (ERIKSEN, 2002, pp.92-93). ERIKSEN concludes that there must also be a true history behind the constructed "ethno-history." Consequently, one should not only focus on how the past is formed in the present, but also how the past forms the present (pp.93-94).4) [25]

As ERIKSEN demonstrated above, ethnos refers to ethnic symbolism based on criteria such as traditional language, religion, kinship system or folkways. According to SRUBAR (2007, p.540), all of these lists of criteria that characterize a population as an ethnos, emphasize:

"[T]he marker of a virtually 'symbolic' world and in particular a common interpretation of the temporal and spatial dimensions of this symbolic world through which the living space and the history of a collective merge to a specific group tradition." [26]

I further state that this general structure of ethnic characteristics is not bound to ethnicity as such, but refers to the structure of the lifeworld as presented by Alfred SCHÜTZ (SCHÜTZ & LUCKMANN, 1973) in his mundane phenomenology (SRUBAR, 2007, p.540). [27]

In the framework of this phenomenology, Alfred SCHÜTZ draws from WEBER's "sociology of understanding" for the analysis of the constituent conditions of the lifeworld, a term introduced by Edmund HUSSERL. Accordingly, all phenomena of the socio-cultural world are grounded in social action and thereby are given meaning (VETTER, 2004, pp.417-418).5) [28]

Based on SCHÜTZ, SRUBAR argues that the human sphere of activity has a social, temporal and spatial dimension and that along this dimension common psychological type and relevance systems are created through interaction and communication of group members (e.g. an ethnic group). These systems are carried by language and constitute a specific interpretation of the group-related sphere of action. This process creates a social stock of knowledge through which the group's living space is quasi internally illuminated and occupied with symbols. [29]

The lifeworlds contain both a "[…] symbolic and semantic construction of the social living space of a group and a construction of group history […], which is realized symbolically in the collective's continuity" (SRUBAR, 2004, p.540; my translation). The historical depth of collective remembering, as well as the timeframe encompassing the idealization of the group identity can differ. As alluded to above, this process of lifeworld construction of reality is not limited to ethnos, but generally applies to all collectives (p.541). [30]

Based on SRUBAR, the approach of the "lifeworld structure" has its merit with regard to linking ethnicity and biography, since the lifeworld structures are reflected in the everyday actions and consequently in the biographies of humans. Consequently, a phenomenon such as ethnicity is grounded in the general structures of the lifeworld. In other words, the social construct of ethnicity is embedded into the lifeworld structures and can gain importance over time within the psychological type and relevance systems (cf. SCHÜTZ & LUCKMANN, 1973) of the collectives and individuals living therein. [31]

To do justice to the process-like aspect of ethnic self-attribution, attribution by others, and constructs of belonging, I approached my empirical investigation based on the methodology of biographical-narrative interviews as developed by SCHÜTZE (1984) and the method of biographical case reconstructions as developed by Gabriele ROSENTHAL (1995, 2004). In this approach, not only the constructions of the present life were of interest but also the reconstruction of the developmental processes of these constructs: "In order to understand and explain social and psychological phenomena we have to reconstruct their genesis—the process of their creation, reproduction and transformation" (ROSENTHAL, 2004, p.49). [32]

In the following section, the research process and methods will be discussed. Afterwards, a case analyzed by myself will demonstrate how ethnic and national constructs of belonging in the life of a migrant from Bosnia and Herzegovina living in Germany developed, changed and became stronger. [33]

4. Jasna Kulenović: "We always were in favor of that Yugoslavia …" Construction and Re-construction of a Yugoslavian Sense of Belonging in the Context of War and Migration

4.1 Methodological approach

Within the framework of my Master's thesis I conducted a total of two interviews with Jasna Kulenović6) (born 1953).7) Contact was established through a Slavic studies seminar in G., where I took Serbo-Croatian language courses. [34]

At the time the interview was conducted, the biographer lived with her husband in a townhouse apartment in B. I conducted the first interview in the biographer's apartment and the second one in her son's apartment in G. Jasna Kulenović and her husband have been running a kiosk since about four years and work in shifts. Both interviews thus take place when Jasna's husband takes over her shift at the kiosk. At first, I ask the biographer to tell her entire "life and family story" as far back as she can remember. The following self-directed narrative was not interrupted. In other words, questions were not asked until after the narrative, so that the biographer's flow of words would not be interrupted. An open request "makes it much easier for the biographer to talk without other considerations and planning. Also, this method opens up new fields and thematic connections to our research question that we had not previously suspected" (ROSENTHAL, 2004, p.51). Moreover, the interviewer should strive:

"[T]o find out about both the subjective perspective of the actors and the courses of action. We want to find out what they experienced, what meaning they gave their actions at the time, what meaning they assign today, and in what biographically constituted context they place their experiences" (p.49). [35]

An early intervention by the researcher would mean that the biographical narrative and the own relevance and categorical system would subsume and would not be aligned with the interviewee's relevance system and everyday actions (ROSENTHAL, 1995, pp.187-189). These theoretical methodological convictions are also expressed in the principle of communication. This principle is oriented toward the rule system of Daily Life Communication, which leaves space for the everyday processes of communication and meaningful action, so that the researcher enters a communication process with everyday action (ROSENTHAL, 2005b, p.44). [36]

A memo was written for all interviews I conducted followed by a first raw, so-called global analysis.8) Based on GLASER and STRAUSS's (1967) Grounded Theory, these global analyses create the first theoretical sample. Based on the global analyses, an interview was chosen for a more profound analysis providing material for the second theoretical sample. This was then transcribed in its entirety while considering all para-verbal expressions of the recording. [37]

I decided to use Jasna Kulenović's interview, since the first theoretical sample revealed that this case demonstrated interesting structures. It was to be expected that a more intensive analysis of her case would provide significant revelations with regard to the research question. I analyzed the interview based on the method of biographical case reconstruction as developed by ROSENTHAL (2004, 2006), which specifically considers the temporality of the lived and the told life-story. Even during this procedure, the actual research question is held back in order to avoid categorizations and allow development of the case structure, i.e. the nature of the life-story as well as the life-story narrative. Only after this process is complete, we turn back towards our research question and ask ourselves what this specific case tells us about the topic at hand. In this case, I proceeded exactly according to these principles: only after having reconstructed the nature of the entire life-story, did I turn to the initial research question, namely how and why ethnic and national constructs of belonging change in the lives of Bosnian migrants or—on the contrary—can reveal a certain continuity. [38]

4.2 The case of Jasna Kulenović

The case of Jasna Kulenović can be mainly characterized by the following attributes:

  • The biographer developed a "Yugoslavian" construct of belonging. The results of the case reconstruction suggest that ambivalent political-ideological orientations with regard to the different warring parties in the context of the Second World War existed in the biographer's family of origin. Due to these circumstances, the biographer did not choose an exclusive construct of belonging such as "Croat" for herself but decided to take on the supra-ethnic Yugoslavian construct of belonging in order not to have to take one side or another. One can assume that under the influence of the Yugoslav state-ordered rule of silence when speaking of the war the family also kept silent. Therefore, from childhood on the biographer oriented herself to the socialistic majority society and the officially presented historical perspective. The family's distinct orientation toward advancement was an alleviating element for this process of integration into the socialistic society.

  • Her marriage to a party official of Muslim origin strengthened this construct and accordingly the biographer was able to live a multicultural, informed Yugoslavian sense of belonging in her marriage.

  • In the context of war and migration at the beginning of the 1990s, the ethnic-national attributions given by the society of her origin no longer corresponded with her self-attribution as "Yugoslav." By migrating to Germany, she was able to maintain this self-attribution, which, had she remained in her country of origin, would have been a problem or even life-threatening for her, due to the ethnization of the Yugoslavian society at that point of time. By holding on to a clear ethnic self-definition as Yugoslav, the biographer can defy the clear ethnic classification by others (on the balance between self-attribution and attribution by others see also KÜVER in this issue). [39]

How then was it possible that someone maintains a multicultural construct of belonging, even though a multicultural Yugoslavia no longer exists, and retains this orientation in German "exile" even after Yugoslavia's collapse? Jasna's biography is not only an example of how ethnic constructs of belonging develop and change over time, but also how they can persevere under certain circumstances. [40]

4.2.1 Integration into Yugoslavia's socialistic society

Jasna Kulenović was born in 1953 in a mainly Croat populated village close to D., a small town in the north of the Yugoslavian constituent republic Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her paternal and maternal family is of Croatian origin and thus of Catholic belief. Since both families originated from small villages, they mainly lived among themselves since the Bosnian villages, in contrast to the cities, were usually populated by only one of the three ethnic groups—Muslims, Croats or Serbs. It is possible that on the local level and especially in rural areas the people at that time did not yet perceive themselves primarily as Croats, Serbs or Muslims (in the ethnic sense), but mainly defined themselves as belonging to one of the three nacije (=ethno-religious group) as Catholics, Orthodox or Muslims. Therefore, it can be assumed that Jasna was born into and formed by a catholic religious context. [41]

According to Jasna, her paternal family lived in a region that was controlled by the Ustaša9) during the Second World War and her maternal family (who also lived in a small village close to D.) in a region that was heavily fought over by the Ustaša and the Partisans. Particularly her maternal family most likely must have experienced threatening situations with the Ustaša, their allies—the German occupiers—or the Partisans. [42]

As Jasna tells, her maternal grandfather tragically lost his life on one of the last days of the Second World War. However, it is not clear under which circumstances this happened. Jasna's interpretation of the situation is that her grandfather was taken by German soldiers and killed by them. This appears to be a family secret—that is to say that Jasna's grandfather either was recruited by force by the Germans and had to fight against the Partisans or the Četniks10) or that he voluntarily collaborated with the Ustaša or the German occupiers. [43]

The reason why Jasna is not exactly sure or does not want to tell why or how her grandfather died might go back to the societal ban on talking about the Second World War which was imposed onto her and her family. It seemed to be a general taboo in Yugoslavia to sympathize with the Germans in any manner, as the following excerpt of the interview shows when Jasna says: "At school we learned Germans were enemies (that's the way it was) ((mhm)) and also when we played like war nobody wanted to be German."11) [44]

At this point Jasna emphasizes that her family did not blame the Germans for the death of her grandfather. She assumes that the reason behind this was that her family was Croat and that the Croats sided with the Germans. Moreover, she says that her grandfather was no Partisan while at the same time not telling exactly what he was. This in turn suggests that this subject is a family taboo, namely that he might have fought alongside the Germans or the Ustaša. Due to this restriction, it is likely that Jasna rather learned about the events of the Second World War and who the enemies were more through public instances (e.g. school) than directly through her grandparents. As the text passage reveals ("nobody wanted to be German"), these contents of teaching were not free from stereotyping and black-white depictions.12) [45]

The second threatening situation is related to the females of the maternal family. In a conversation prior to the second interview appointment in her son's apartment, the biographer mentions that her mother hid her daughters in a barn from Red Army soldiers who were closing in directly after the war.13) When I ask during the interview what happened when Jasna's mother was hidden in the barn with her sisters, it became obvious that this also was a taboo topic in Jasna's family as well as in the Yugoslavian society since Jasna thereupon tends to provide more general depictions of the war. She tells that one does not speak out loudly about "this," because they (the Yugoslavs) officially were friendly with the Russians. However, she then admits that the Russians themselves raped women and girls in Yugoslavia. She compares the situation in Yugoslavia, especially in Vojvodina, with that in Silesia and in a way takes sides with the displaced Germans. Jasna demonstrates certain ambivalence with regard to the Germans, since she emphasized in the previously mentioned passage that nobody liked the Germans and that they generally were considered enemies in Yugoslavia. The thematization of different ethnic belongings in the context of the Second World War could point to the fact that Jasna distances herself from the taboo-laden experiences of her family during the Second World War through a screen story.14) [46]

In the context of the entire case reconstruction, both passages demonstrate that Jasna's integration into the communist formed societal system did not take place without personal and family internal conflicts. Maybe she unconsciously internalized one or another stereotype. that had developed during the Second World War. and then drew her own conclusions. Due to possible ambivalences within the family regarding the different experiential background during the Second World War and/or different stances with regard to the socialist regime, Jasna might have developed the desire to adapt even more to the socialistic majority society and accordingly to show that she belongs to it. This stance could have given her clarity and orientation in light of a background full of ambivalences and taboos in her family history. [47]

In the year 1955, Jasna is two years old, her parents move with her from the village to D., a midsize town (approximately 30 000 inhabitants in the actual town and 80 000 in the municipality), where they live in the Austrian-Hungarian section of the town. Her father works as a public servant for the post office and her mother is a housewife. [48]

When she enrolls into school (1959; the same year her little brother is born), Jasna leaves her familiar context and is confronted with socialist ideology, because in communist countries there was a "[…] submission of all teaching content under the norms of a Marxist-Leninist ideology, which primarily affected the humanities and social sciences" (MITTER, 1999, p.440; my translation). Initially, Jasna might have been torn between the religious environment of her parents' home and the assimilation into the socialistic and atheistic public sphere. At school and in public, Jasna was confronted with rituals of the communist party leadership, such as the annual relay race to commemorate Tito's birthday or participation in impressive parades to mark the May 1st holiday.15) [49]

In the year 1971, Jasna graduates from school with her university-entrance diploma at the age of 18 and moves on to study Serbo-Croatian language and Yugoslav literature in Sarajevo, the capital of the former constituent republic Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fields of study she chose suggest Jasna's close feelings toward the cultural heritage of her country, but maybe also to Leninist-Marxist ideology. In 1971, her father moves to Germany as a guest worker followed by her mother in 1973, while Jasna (20 years old) and her younger sister (14 years old) remain in Yugoslavia. The interview reveals that Jasna had a very hard time in accepting her father's departure. He seemed to have been an important role model for her as still seems to be the case. It is remarkable that Jasna's father of all places goes to the "enemy" country, that of the Germans. Possibly, Jasna develops an unconscious animosity against everything German or at least she takes on an ambivalent stance. A clue could be that she chose Russian as her foreign language in school as opposed to her younger brother who already learned German at school and then studied German language and literature. [50]

In 1975, Jasna returns to D. (which also partly demonstrates her home attachment) and is given a position as a school teacher for Serbo-Croatian language while getting involved in the theater alongside. [51]

Remembering the day that Tito died (April 5, 1980), Jasna says: "Personally I felt that me- that someone needed to express condolences to me ((I briefly laugh)) because I thought ((laughing ironically)) I-I feel so bad and I am so sad." [52]

In addition, the biographer argues that Tito was not a dictator and that all peoples need a leader. Even from the present perspective, Jasna idealizes Tito as a father figure and does not permit any critique of him. For her, he still is untouchable, intangible, yes, even godlike. Referring to the results of a study by BAŠIĆ (2007), one might assume that the supporters of the Partisan myth and the Tito cult adhere to a strong sense of tradition, which means that they hold fast to a positive meaning of the partisan movement or the person of Tito, even though they possibly are aware that these myths are constructs that do not stand the test of reality (BAŠIĆ, 2007, p.501). [53]

At the age of 30 in 1983, Jasna marries a party official of Muslim origin who runs a law firm in D. Thus, she lives in an interethnic marriage from then on. Marriages between two partners of different ethnic origins where not uncommon and socially legitimized in former Yugoslavia, so that the marriage between Jasna and her husband should not have caused a problem with respect to the public (CALIĆ, 1996, p.45).16) With specific regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation was as such:

"In towns, especially among the urban-educated class, intermarriage would be quite common, and would sometimes go back several generations in a single family. Here the socioeconomic strata a person belonged to was more important than was his or her 'nationality.' " (BRINGA,1995, p.4) [54]

This probably also applied to Jasna and her husband, both of whom went to university and worked in reputable professions. Through the marriage with a party official, Jasna probably reached a higher social status, since she must have come into more contact with the "political elite" through her husband. [55]

As BRINGA (1995) noticed, the question of ethnic and national belonging, respectively, was also a generational question. In that regard, the feeling of a "Yugoslavian" identity in the constituent republic Bosnia and Herzegovina was strongest in the generation that, like Jasna and her husband, was educated during the 1950s and 60s, while persons born before the Second World War considered ethnic classification as more important. For young people growing up in the late 1980s—fueled by the "national question" in the 70s17)—the belonging to a certain nationality gained importance. [56]

4.2.2 Transformation of the Yugoslavian construct of belonging in the context of war and migration

Particularly after Tito's death on April 5, 1980, the de-integrative tendencies grew so that Yugoslavia practically was ungovernable toward the end of the 1980s. With Slobodan Milošević's election as chair of the League of Communists in Serbia in 1986 and his appointment as president of the republic in 1987, a phase of aggravated Serbian-nationalistic rhetoric and agitation was heralded (SUNDHAUSSEN, 2004a, p.325; SUNDHAUSSEN, 2004b, pp.323-324). [57]

In the year 1990 (Jasna is 37 years old and meanwhile has a 7 year old son), during the first free elections after 1927, the communists' opponents prevail in the individual republics except for Serbia and Montenegro. Interviews conducted at the beginning of the 1990s by MOROKVAŠIĆ with refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina reveal that during 1990/1991 a "regular life" marked by tolerance still existed. [58]

This situation shaped by tolerance shifted around 1990 after the first free elections which were formed by nationalistic media campaigns. In the course of these campaigns and nationalist agitation, the relations with friends, neighbors, and even within the family deteriorated increasingly (MOROKVAŠIĆ, 1993, pp.12-13). [59]

The triumph of the nationalist parties during the first democratic elections must have been shocking for Jasna. The interview analysis clearly revealed that she was compliant with the system and sympathizing with the communist party. The rejection of the nationalist parties is expressed during the second interview, when I asked the biographer about the 1992 referendum regarding Bosnia's independence:

"That has nothing to do with democracy ((mhm)) that already is fascism ((yes)) that exactly is fascism ((mhm)), so, when I belong to the population group that has the majority ((yes)) then I have everything possible, well you can (do whatever you want)." [60]

The situation then must have been very frightening for her, since the supporters of the communist party now found themselves in the opposition and it became apparent that they soon would lose the political privileges that they held during the one-party system. [61]

The interview with Jasna implies that, prior to the first democratic elections, massive pressure was exerted on her husband to change from the communist party to the Bosnian nationalistic party SDA (Party of Democratic Action). According to Jasna, he did not want to give in and therefore lost his position to a Serb. [62]

It is already during this phase that Jasna and her husband are confronted with the question whether to abide by their old line of thinking or whether to give in to the nationalist pressure. [63]

On a societal level—according to MOROKVAŠIĆ-MÜLLER (2001, p.155)—interethnic marriage is a sign of the highest level of mutual acceptance and an indicator for the relationship as well as the integration between the ethnic groups that are in contact with each other. [64]

However, BOTEV (2000, p.232) found in a study that ethnic endogamy was rather the norm in Yugoslavia "[…] and over the years studied (1962 to 1989) no clear trend emerged, either in terms of increasing rates of intermarriage or decreasing social distance between the various ethnic groups and cultural traditions." [65]

Even though the demographic influence of interethnic marriages accordingly was minor, they became main targets of intolerance and violence from all sides during a time of acrimonious tensions, strengthening nationalism and openly manifested violence. Hence there probably was no space to express a hybrid Yugoslav identity in a situation of ethnic tensions and war. Accordingly, the tendency to make an exclusive decision amplified. Mixed couples for example would decide either by choosing one nationality, usually the husband's, ending the relationship, or fleeing or emigrating abroad (MOROKVAŠIĆ-MÜLLER, 2001, pp.161-162). [66]

Jasna and her husband maintained their Yugoslavian construct of belonging despite—or perhaps because of—the ethnic tensions previous to the outbreak of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the war, and up to the present day. They were able to do so because Jasna decided to depart to Germany shortly before the outbreak of war and her husband decided to flee to Germany seven months later.18) [67]

During the war from 1992 to 1995, the biographer struggled with feelings of a strong lack of belonging and self-alienation in Germany. A more intensive analysis of a text passage, where Jasna talks about that time, revealed that she understood herself as part of a we-group—probably Yugoslavian—that held on to different values than the society in her host country where she was forced to live due to the war (ELIAS, 1987, pp.296-298; on the figuration of we-groups and we-images see especially ROSENTHAL & STEPHAN, 2009 and also BALLENTHIEN & BÜCHING in this issue). From her perspective, it was no longer possible to live a regular life in Germany as she had in Yugoslavia. Her rejection of the individualistically formed, consume-oriented Western society is also noticeable. She probably did not want to embrace its values, because she hoped to return to Bosnia after the war and therefore did not show any ambitions to furnish her apartment at that time. [68]

Only after about three years, after the war had ended, the biographer talks about being able to open up to her environment. She depicts that it took her three years to realize that the linden trees in the town she resides in Germany smell just as good as in her hometown:

"And really, it took me three years, that I notice that everything smells good here ((hm)), our town was famous we had many linden trees ((mhm)) a whole street of linden trees, and one day I was sure linden trees smell like crazy here ((yes)) I missed three years." [69]

Despite opening up like this, it is probable that Jasna still senses a lack of belonging and probably is still struggling with such feelings in the present, because the nation-state, where she grew up and where she felt integrated into the society, ceased to exist. It can be assumed that she experienced strong emotional stress during that period, had a very hard time coping with it, and, accordingly, still has to process these emotions. [70]

This becomes remarkably obvious during the interview when Jasna says that the Yugoslavian flag and anthem are her flag and anthem whereas the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina is so alien that she cannot even remember the constellation of its colors. Thus, what remains are her memories of Yugoslavia the way it was then. [71]

To complicate matters further, Jasna and her husband could not follow their professional activities in Germany and therefore could not maintain the social status they held in Yugoslavia. In November 1992, both began to work in an amusement arcade. The interview demonstrated that Jasna did not enjoy this work and was embarrassed at having accepted such a job out of need. Also the fact that Jasna, as opposed to her husband and her sister who learned German in school, did not know any German at the beginning could have made acclimatization into her new environment more difficult. [72]

After the war, which officially ended with the Dayton Agreement of November 21 1995, the question whether to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina comes up. Initially the return was dangerous for the large majority with a few exceptions. The entire infrastructure had been destroyed by the war, houses were demolished or occupied and confiscated by "patriots" or people were forced out of their jobs. Moreover, the return was made dangerous by the pressure of the region and the stigmatization of those who left as "traitors" (MOROKVAŠIĆ, 1993, p.15). [73]

Particularly the return to the Republika Srpska,19) where D. was located, now was very hard for Bosnians and Croatians. Contrary to her brother, who returned to Croatia with his Croatian wife around 1999, Jasna lived in an interethnic marriage which blocked or at least exacerbated the option for her return to Bosnia or relocate to Croatia as might have been possible for others. As civil war refugees from Bosnia, Jasna and her family could legally remain in Germany up until September 1996, according to § 54 AuslG20) (cf. KÜHNE & RÜßLER, 2000, p.69). [74]

Afterwards, Jasna and her husband decided not to return but to fight for their right to stay. In the year 1998 they managed to obtain a so-called Ermessenseinbürgerung21) [discretionary naturalization] through the town of B. Jasna and her husband's first visit to their hometown in 2001, after nine years demonstrated that the return for them in fact would have been very cumbersome. Jasna and her husband arrived to find their house inhabited by a Serbian family, which probably was not easy to see and accept. [75]

4.2.3 Ethnicization of the Bosnian society—"Ethnicization of the biography"

At the time when Jasna and her husband were still in Bosnia, her husband's second youngest brother was missing in Germany.22) When they returned, they found out he had committed suicide. [76]

In Bosnia, he was—according to Jasna—married to a woman whose mother was of Croatian and father of Serbian origin, while Jasna's brother-in-law was Muslim/Bosnian. [77]

When the war began, her family sided with the Serbs, even though they were Croats. Jasna comments as follows: "Her mother was more Serbian than (as born Serbian), and she did not want to accept him like son-in-law." [78]

Jasna attributes the failure of her brother-in-law's marriage mainly to the ethnic tensions between Muslims, Croats and Serbs at the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She explains why her brother-in-law committed suicide as follows: "He couldn't handle that ((mhm)) his wife left him only because of nationality and so ((mhm)) and ah he ah he began to suffer from depression." [79]

Other patterns of interpretation, for example that there might have been a marital crisis before the outbreak of the war, are not acceptable here. It should also be remarked that his ex-wife stemmed from an inter-ethnic marriage. Briefly, it is not understandable why the Croatian part of the wife's family all of a sudden wanted to switch to the Serbian nationalist camp, since Serbs and Croats were acrimonious enemies during the war. A possible explanation why his Croatian mother-in-law joined the Serbs, the ethnic group of her husband, could be that she tried to protect her daughter and her grandchildren by assimilating into the dominant ethnic group. [80]

In retrospect, the biographer seems to evaluate the situation from an ethnicized perspective, even though she vehemently opposes externally imposed ethnic markers and does not want to evaluate others according to such criteria by holding on to a multicultural informed Yugoslavian construct of belonging. Jasna could have undergone what BUKOW (1999, pp.100-101) calls the "ethnicization of biography." According to that notion, "ethnic markers invade self-constructs and gain structural force" (my translation). [81]

However, in Jasna's case, the ethnicization of biography should be understood not only in the context of possible experiences of discrimination in the society of her host country. It is much more connected to the ethnicization of the Yugoslavian and Bosnian societies at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s, respectively. [82]

At the beginning of the 1990s, so MOROKVAŠIĆ-MÜLLER, there was an observable tendency to self-identify as "natural" collectives of Serbs, Croats, Albanians, Muslims, etc. which led to aggressive nationalism and the willingness to draw violent borders between "we" and "the other." [83]

In that regard, nationalism created "the other" and forced deportation tried to reduce its presence in order to realize the nationalist project with ethnically pure states, units or territories within the own context, (MOROKVAŠIĆ-MÜLLER, 2001, p.154). [84]

SRUBAR notes that ethnicization of a social space does not take place without previous communication processes in which there is a selection of collective knowledge and memory. With the selective reassignment of this inventory, it is determined which cultural and traditional elements now are ethnically more "authentic." The social construction of a population's spatial-temporal lifeworld consequently is understood and manifested as "ethnic" and is largely independent of the factual aspects of origin, territory, etc. (SRUBAR, 2007, p.543). [85]

First, the reassignment of collective knowledge and memory leads to the redefinition of such a population's social space, whereby the boundaries of social inclusion and exclusion are newly drawn. Therefore, the individual fields of action are newly structured as well. [86]

Second, as formulated by SRUBAR, the symbolic interpretation of native living space changes. This means that the familiar landscape and neighborhood of the lifeworld suddenly is separated into home and non-home, while new "relations of home" are created along an ethnically defined collective memory. A temporal counter-factual symbolic reference to space is significant for this process. This takes the form of "developmental myths" which maintain ethnic continuity (SRUBAR referring to HALBWACHS, 1985).23) [87]

If claims for political power and tangible territorial demands are connected to such ethnic nationalization of a collective, one certainly can talk about ethnic nation-state building. [88]

Especially in ethnic diverse regions struggles over cultural and political power as well as defining linguistic and state boundaries may occur. This was the case with the states succeeding the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy (of which Yugoslavia was a part), because they formally proceeded with the principle of ethnicity for their territorial restructuring without taking the immanent structures of the involved ethnic and social cultural spaces into consideration. This could not but lead to competition with regard to the power over the definition and conflicts surrounding economic distribution, which became integral parts of ethnic competition. Since this power over definition is distributed asymmetrically, the members of the succumbed collective only have two options: assimilation or exit. SRUBAR labels these processes in multi-ethnic post-socialist states as re-ethnicization of social space (SRUBAR, 2007, pp.544-546). [89]

The re-ethnicization of social space, as SRUBAR describes it here, was not limited to the Yugoslavian state territory, but was also carried over to the receiving countries of Western Europe through the waves of refugees following the wars in Croatia (1991) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992). Refugees occasionally encountered guest worker communities that were separated along ethnic boundaries. EASTMOND (1998, p.164, pp.178-179) points out that labor migrants in most countries were organized together in associations and interest groups and thereby maintained intensive contact to their host country, which additionally was officially sanctioned by the receiving countries. [90]

According to EASTMOND, this behavior reflects the essentialized concepts of identity and culture of politics in the receiving countries. This circumstance might have led to an increase of ethnic separation and tensions in exile which were caused by the conflict. KORAČ (2004, p.148) states that the question of national identity was central in the context of identity politics for refugees from former Yugoslavia:24) "Ethnic tension among peoples fleeing 'new wars' tends to continue or even intensify in the specific circumstances of exile, especially when policies of the receiving societies are reflecting essentialised notions of identity" (p.150). [91]

For Jasna, this meant that she could not avoid identity politics of her country of origin even abroad. Moreover, she had to position herself against the attribution by others from both her country of origin and that of her receiving country. [92]

Specifically after the first visit to her hometown D. after nine years in 2001 and her brother-in-law's suicide, Jasna seems to have transformed her old Yugoslavian self-concept into a broader multicultural sense of belonging which does not relate only to Yugoslavia. In the year 2002, Jasna even tried to re-orient herself professionally by leaving her work at the amusement arcade. She began an internship with an organization that has close ties to unions where she took care of psychologically disturbed individuals. When she could not continue to work there, she and her husband leased a kiosk in 2003. During the second interview, when Jasna is asked about the topic of friends in Germany, she thematizes her work at the kiosk and emphasizes the "German-Polish-Russian component" of its coffee corner, thereby implying that she likes to provide this corner for others as a space for intercultural communication. This might be interpreted as an indemnification for her deceased brother-in-law, since this behavior countervails ethnic stigmatization of others to a certain degree. [93]

When Jasna has to decide how her father should be buried after his death in 2005, her multicultural orientation stands out increasingly. During the interview, Jasna speaks about the preparation for the burial of her father at length and emphasizes that her father explicitly desired not to have a religious burial. Nevertheless, she and her mother decided to have her father buried out of the church, whereby Jasna emphasizes that the burial was held by a German priest rather than the Croat priest whom they found to be too nationalistic: "We want that this ah burial ah will be pretty neutral because ((yes)) we expect our friends which ah come from different regions and so ((mhm)) different nationalities." [94]

This demonstrates how Jasna does not have a fundamentally bad relationship with religion despite her Yugoslavian socialist orientation, but rather considers the merging of religion and nationalism to be problematic. [95]

At the time of the interview, at age 54, it seems as if the biographer is detaching herself from her old, exclusively Yugoslavian coined construct of belonging and that she is in the process of converting this into a broader, multicultural belonging. [96]

5. Conclusion

Jasna Kulenović's biography demonstrates how the formation, transformation and continuity of ethnic and national constructs of belonging can be reconstructed through a biographical theoretical approach. In Jasna Kulenović's case, the development of a Yugoslavian sense of belonging did not merely evolve out of a context within the family, but was clearly interrelated to collective historical events. [97]

In this regard, especially the family history during the Second World War had a significant influence on the biography and the development of a certain sense of belonging, namely that of a Yugoslav. On the one hand, there might have been internal feelings within the family of guilt and shame with regard to the events and experiences during the Second World War, which have not been processed sufficiently; and, on the other hand, there was a governmental and societal imposed taboo to talk about the traumatic experiences of the Second World War. These factors probably contributed largely to the fact that the biographer oriented herself along the officially conveyed ideological parameters of the Yugoslavian state. [98]

This direction primarily would be reinforced later through her educational path and the marriage with a man of different ethnic origin who was a party member. Even with the mounting external pressure due to the ethnicization of her society of origin at the beginning of the 1990s and her migration to Germany, the biographer initially held on to her old Yugoslavian construct of belonging. This served as a means to counteract the lacking sense of belonging in Germany. Even though the biographer has maintained her Yugoslavian sense of belonging despite all circumstances, it is observable that Jasna Kulenović is in the process of transforming the sense of belonging originally limited to her Yugoslavian home into one which is broader and multicultural. [99]


1) In 1948, Muslims who did not want to declare themselves as Serbs or Croats could declare themselves as "Muslims of undeclared nationality" and in 1953 as "Yugoslavs of undeclared nationality." 1961 they received the nationality and narodnost status, respectively, and finally in 1971, the status of nation/narod (BRINGA, 1995, p.27). <back>

2) Just like WEBER, HUGHES rejected referring to certain "cultural characteristics." According to HUGHES ethnic cultural differences have a certain function in developing a sense of community; thus, the existence of a group does not reflect cultural differences. Moreover, ethnic groups require ethnic relationships and ethnic relationships require at least two collective parties; thus they are not unilateral (HUGHES, 1948/1994, p.91). <back>

3) This refers to Paul FEYERABEND's term "anything goes" (1975). <back>

4) These conclusions by ERIKSEN on the relationship between presence and past are perfectly linkable with the notion of sociological biographical research, namely "to discover the present and past applied rules of experienced and carried out discourse of different points in time as well as historical-social contexts (ROSENTHAL, 2005a, p.52; my translation). <back>

5) With regard to this socio-cultural or social world SCHÜTZ distinguishes between categories in which this world constitutes itself lifeworldly, meaning in a natural worldview, and categories which are scientific and through which the social sciences are enabled to analyze the lifeworldly constituted social world. In SCHÜTZ's understanding, the morphology of scientific categories remains constantly embedded in the practice of daily life (VETTER, 2004, pp.417-418). <back>

6) All names are anonymized. <back>

7) See ROSENTHAL (2003) for the merits of a second interview meeting. <back>

8) I conducted a total of five interviews in late 2006/early 2007, two of which were followed up by a second interview meeting. The interviewees were two middle aged women, a young man and a young woman, who came to Germany in the context of the war in former Yugoslavia in 1992, and a German-born son of a Yugoslavian guest worker. <back>

9) Nationalist and terrorist movement in Second World War Croatia, led by Ante Pavelić, the "leader" of the "Independent nation-state Croatia" (NDH) (MALCOLM, 1996, p.372). <back>

10) Četnik is the old Serbian expression for paramilitary fighters. Mihailović's troops during the Second World War called themselves Četniks (MALCOLM, 1996, p.372). <back>

11) Transcription symbols: (that's the way it was) = approximate transcription; ((mhm)) = transcriberʹs comments, also descriptions of moods, non-verbal utterances or sounds. <back>

12) BAŠIĆ (2007, p.498) points out that the atrocities from the Second World War rarely were directly spoken about in families but rather were thematized through the television media and movies (obviously with stereotypical depictions). <back>

13) As KAVČIĆ (2007, pp.485-487) notes, women became victims of sexual assaults everywhere when, starting in March 1944, the Red Army pushed back the German Wehrmacht further and further. This was the case in Yugoslavia beginning in the fall of 1944. The probability of being raped by Soviet soldiers did not necessarily depend on the women's orientation or membership in a warring party. <back>

14) ROSENTHAL uses the term "screen story" in reference to FREUD's (1899/2001) notion of "screen memories" in contexts such as the narratives of Nazi perpetrators and holocaust victims. In these narratives, it often happens that gruesome and particularly agonizing details are blocked and more general and less threatening stories are told instead. The narrators hereby follow collective narrative rituals. In the context of the Second World War, anecdotes of the war are used to cover that which has been left out so far, namely narratives of direct confrontation with death and murders (ROSENTHAL, 1998, pp.33-34). I suspect that in Jasna's case, the biographer might have adopted her mother's screen story. <back>

15) The "Relay of the Youth" was presented to Tito on his birthday after weeklong quasi-processions in the entire country and was part of the personality cult (HÖPKEN, 1999, pp.216-217). <back>

16) On the eve of war, approximately 5,5% of the population considered themselves as "Yugoslavian" and almost 16% of all children came out of so-called "mixed marriages." One can assume that every other inhabitant of Bosnia-Herzegovina had a close relative from a different nationality than one's own (CALIĆ, 1996, p.45). <back>

17) The 1971 "Croatian Spring" was understood as a protest movement for more democracy on the one hand, but a demand by Croats for more national independence on the other hand. After the conflicts in Croatia, a federalist reform was implemented in Yugoslavia in 1974. This led to increasing political autonomy of the constituent republics (DŽAJA, 2002). <back>

18) On April 1, 1992, only three days after the official outbreak of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jasna, her son (7 years of age at that time), Jasna's brother, his wife and son (also age 7) took the car to Jasna's parents in Germany. Jasna's husband initially stayed back and arrived that same November in Germany. According to Jasna, Serbian friends obtained a Serbian passport that enabled him to leave Bosnia. <back>

19) After the 1995 Dayton-Agreement, Bosnia was separated into two entities, namely the "Republika Srpska" (Serbian Republic) and the Bosnian-Croatian Federation. In the area of the Serbian Republic the non-Serbian population was massively displaced during the war. Consequently mainly Serbs lived there after the war which made the return of non-Serbian persons harder. <back>

20) ʺAusländergesetzʺ = Aliens Act. <back>

21) If the legal requirements are fulfilled, discretionary naturalization can take place at the discretion of the government authorities if public interest of naturalization of an individual case can be determined. <back>

22) He already had come to Germany at the beginning of 1994 together with Jasna's mother-in-law and another brother-in-law. Apparently he only temporarily lived in the apartment of Jasna's parents, since he—as the interview suggests—was institutionalized into a psychiatric clinic time and again. <back>

23) In the case of Yugoslavia one only has to consider the "Blackbird Field" myth, which was exploited for nationalist propaganda at the beginning of the 1990s as well as in the Kosovo war in 1999. This myth dates back to a historical battle at the Serbian Blackbird Field, where the Turkish army led by Sultan Murad I defeated the south-Slavian Serbian army led by Lazar I Hrebeljanović on June 38, 1389. <back>

24) In the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina and former Yugoslavia this could refer to politics that propagate an essentialized concept of "the other." <back>


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Sonja GRÜN studied political sciences and anthropology at Göttingen University and wrote her Master's thesis "Ethnic and National Belongings of Migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina in Germany. A Biographical Case Study" under the supervision of Dr. Renate BITZAN and Prof. Dr. Gabriele ROSENTHAL. Currently she is preparing to write a dissertation on "Women and Civil Society in Afghanistan." With that regard, she is interviewing Afghan women who are volunteers organizing medical and humanitarian aid for their country.


Sonja Grün

Schülerstieg 15
37081 Göttingen

Tel.: ++49 0551 3815892

E-mail: sonja_gruen@web.de


Grün, Sonja (2009). Construction of Ethnic Belonging in the Context of Former Yugoslavia—the Case of a Migrant from Bosnia-Herzegovina [99 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(3), Art. 22, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0903226.

Copyright (c) 2009 Sonja Grün

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