AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Leaving the troubled past behind : negotiating ethnic identity among Belgraders in post-conflict Serbia

by Kine Renate Olsen

Institution: University of Oslo
Year: 1000
Keywords: VDP::250
Record ID: 1296270
Full text PDF: https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/37185


This thesis builds on fieldwork from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, from January to June in 2012, where everyday life is studied as an approach to ethnic identity negotiations in a post-conflict context. By focusing on the expressions of Serb identity, the influence of the past and the relationship between individual and authority, the thesis will show how these elements all affect the identity construction in the direction of ambivalence and avoidance, rather than acceptance. Throughout the thesis the importance of approaching ethnic identity negotiations on a micro-level is argued, along with understanding this process through the backdrop of a historic context. The study emphasizes the necessity of establishing a new master narrative, i.e. a (re)defined understanding of ethnic identity, as a means of coping with past difficulties. Such a narrative is currently lacking in Belgrade, resulting in nostalgia and conspiracy construction as a way of coping with the past. Additionally the relationship between state authority and Belgraders is taken into account, by showing the way in which distrust and powerlessness is prominent due to the state perceived inability to face the past, and construct a new master narrative. What is more, the role of the international community in the aftermath of conflict has further complicated Belgraders relation to their ethnic identity as a result of an assumed criminalization from above. However, despite the expressed hardship in Belgrade, the study highlights components which are considered key symbols and core values to the Belgraders. The importance of hospitality as well as socializing constitutes agency, by resisting the change the West and the state promotes.