Tigers, proficient and professional tigers, are said to lay well hidden before pouncing for the kill.
In my mind, the narratives of ethnicity – are such tigers. One might live in the midst of such narratives, feeling safe, at home, relaxed and satisfied.
Then, the ethnic oriented story reveals itself as a pouncing tiger.
Perhaps, with the above feeling in mind, that is why my curiosity pinged when hearing stuff about ethnicities here in sarajevo.
People keep talking about living in a Multi-Ethnic city.
Which ethnicities are involved?
People mention Muslims*, Croats, Serbs and Jews at times. (Curiously perhaps, the Yugoslavs aren’t an ethnicity i have heard of here.)
Initially, the idea of perceiving a multi ethnic culture within an environment when:
people agree that Slavs is a plausible term for all involved.
people agree they speak essentially the same language.
marriages among the various groups is very common.
might sound slightly odd at some places.
However, perhaps if we consider the notion of ethnicity as an utter arbitrary imposition, certain curiousities might become something else.
When to define an ethnicity, all one needs to do is to point at something visible, like skin colours – the narrative behind may remain very simple.
The nazies liked a very particular blondish kind of image of the arians in their minds – that made the hated other be simple to talk about. It was a visual idea, in spite of the fact most people adhering to the blondish notion – didn’t look anything like.
Here, when ethnic others can not be defined visually, I think helps bringing about a reality visual notions hide.
That no matter what colour eyes, skin, hair, etc. we share as a difference –
identities in general, and ethnic ones in particular, are just narratives one might find soothing to hear and practical to adopt and employ.
With the significance of narrative differences in mind, perhaps the importance of keep memories, stories and songs they tell each other, becomes clearer?
That said with war memorials galore around here, and a weekly popular sing-along night at kino bosna in mind.
*rather than Bosniaks per this page, but that could be a language thing.
a few possibly related links?
20 years after Dayton, here’s what Bosnians think about being divided by ethnicity