Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Shant's Article Summary (Bringa article)

“Nationality Categories, National Identification and Identity Formation in ‘Multinational’ Bosnia”
Cantonization in Bosnia-Herzegovina is based on the European concept that people within a multiethnic society can be divided and co-exist without giving up their nationality. Unfortunately this Wilsonian-Leninist doctrine proved to be disastrous because cantonization assumes that nations are clearly definable, and historically static units. It assumes that these units are culturally homogenous and that the best way to govern is by creating politically sovereign units which overlap within the cultural units. There were attempts at forceful cantonization in Bosnia-Herzegovina; ethnic cleansing that resulted in human loss and suffering as well as destruction of cultural and historical monuments. The three reasons cantonization did not work in Bosnia-Herzegovina were: 1) the “intricate ethnic patchwork” fostered a society where cantonization could occur only at a great human expense; 2) cantonization is ill-informed as it assumed that division of B.H. into three separate nationalities qualifies as a Western definition of a nation; and 3) the Western concept of cantonization is incompatible with the notion of nationality in B.H. along state and local lines.
The Western notion of ethnicity is based on the idea that an individual is so because he was born to be so, and this can never be changed. This ignores the concept that different people have different ideas of who one is and which group he belongs to. National and ethnic identity is partly based on ascription (self-definition) and description (definition by others). Bosnia-Herzogovina is an example of one or more parties contesting the cultural (ethnic or national) identity, where there is no real consensus on nationality within groups in the state. In B.H. religious identity overlapped with national or ethnic identity for the three major groups. Thus religion became part of an individual’s cultural identity, whether or not one is a believer. In local areas of B.H. the term for religious identity (i.e. Catholic, Orthodox) is used rather than the national identity (i.e. Croat, Serb). The term ethno-religious identity is a more accurate depiction of an individual.
In Dolina, a two-hour drive north of Sarajevo, one can easily distinguish between a Muslim and Catholic house based on the architecture. During secular activities the Muslims and Catholics interact together, but during religious activities, they separate and knowledge about each other’s religious activities become scarce. Secular activities consist of key values of honor and hospitality which the two groups share—gift-giving, building projects, and community work. These common visits would be opportunities for the groups to point out differences amongst themselves with each other. This illustrates that cultural differences between Muslims and Catholics are mutually stated. The village of Dolina illustrates that the formation of self-identity is dependent on the other group; that is, one’s self-identity is asserted by pointing out differences in the other group, and understanding of the other group is stated by how they are different from themselves. Despite religious tolerance and co-existence amongst groups in the town of Dolina, a boundary still exists in the village. This is the idea of intermarriage, which is not allowed and non-negotiable because of the religious issues that arise. There is also a sense of the environment being a major factor in determining the values of the people. Many individuals in Dolina acknowledge that “we are the way our surroundings are,” and reinforce the idea that there are differences between rural and city dwellers.
The Western concept of nationality differs from the socialist state’s idea of nationality. In Western Europe citizenship and nationality are synonymous and nationality refers to a person’s relationship to a particular state. In a multi-ethnic socialist state, identity is determined by ascription and description, leaving room for adoption or inheritance of a nationality. Yugoslavia had a three-tier system of national rights, a hierarchy of categories which they grouped different peoples and according to which they were granted national rights. The first category was the “nations of Yugoslavia”, which there were 6, the second category was the “nationalities of Yugoslavia, of which there were 10, and the third category was “other nationalities and ethnic groups.” This was the legacy of three ideologies: the Ottoman millet system, Stalinist doctrine, and the Wilsonian doctrine. The situation for Muslims in this area is that they are the only nation in the former Yugoslavia who did not have a republic as their de jure national home. There is no legally established link between the Bosnian (Muslim) nation and the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina leaves the Muslims without a legitimate state.