The Shadows of the Past : A Study of Life-World and Identity of Serbian Youth after the Milošević Regime

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi

Sammanfattning: The thesis explores the consequences of the Milošević regime and the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s for young people in Serbia. It deals with the conditions under which recent history makes itself relevant in the lives of two high-school classes of eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds. In order to unravel the ramifications of the past, anthropological fieldwork was conducted for twelve months during 2007-2009 in the city of Novi Sad, situated in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina. The study builds on participant observation and interviews. It pays attention to the interplay of objective conditions, which have arisen from complex social processes in the Balkans, and subjective understanding of past events and their corollaries in social relations at present. Drawing on a phenomenological perspective, symbolic interactionism, and social identity theory, which provide important insights into the processes of cognition and identification, it is demonstrated that young people’s relationship to the past and present of their society is marked by ambivalence. Most of the participants in the study have no experience of the war in the true sense of the word. On the other hand, they do have an experience of a surrounding world characterized by considerable social contradictions and oppositions, and of people who are stressed and worried about the future. A closer investigation of the realms of school, family, society, and self indicates that the impacts and meanings of historical events due to differing cultural and political models are not uniform. In order to be of import in everyday life, they have to be integrated into individuals’ comprehension of their world. Such an integration of the legacies of the past will depend not only on the human capacity for moral reflection but also on the prospects for economic development and social stability in Serbia.

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