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The Stigmatisation of Croats and Serbs before, during and after the War

Dragutin Babić

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 119 Kb

str. 379-397

preuzimanja: 904



The process of disintegration of the Yugoslav state was accompanied by social constructs in regard to the Other. Stereotypes, prejudices and stigmas, which had existed during the socialist period, were multiplied during the transitional and especially during the war period. The symbolic imagery was especially burdened by national/nationalist constructions of the reality in the former Yugoslav socio-political area, including in Croatia. In this context, national identity was forcefully activated, as a replacement for socialist ideology. Favourising ethno-national identity over all other sub-identities in the socio-political and symbolic area, and the prevalence of an ethnic model of the nation, suppressed democratic processes, and an authoritative national state came into effect on the public scene. A cultural and socio-psychological atmosphere was created that was conducive to the activation of ethnic/national stereotypes, prejudices, and subsequently to the stigmatisation of Others. In Croatia, images of “ustaše” and “chetniks” were activated in the symbolic and practical-political sphere, which only increased the mutual stigmatisation of Croats and Serbs. Various protagonists during the war conflicts activated symbolic images for their own (often very different) goals, and the extent of misuse of national contents depended on the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of political goals, as well as on the behaviour of political and military organisations and of individuals towards Others in given situations. The author’s empirical research, conducted in West and East Slavonia, Banija and Dalmatia among populations of indigenous Croats and Serbs and immigrants, indicates that the stigmatisation of the nationally Other is still largely present in the post-war period. It gained intensity during the war and reached a maximum in the post-war period. All this aggravates the (re)construction of local communities in former war areas. The gradual decontamination of the socio-psychological atmosphere implies a move away from war “images” and from the notion of an ethnically pure state, and a shift towards multiethnic coexistence and a more tolerant atmosphere for communication.

Ključne riječi

symbolic imagery; stigmatisation; Croats, Serbs; “ustaše”; “chetniks”

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