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Approaches to the Research of the Identity of the Ethnic Group of Bunjevci

Milana Černelić

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 223 Kb

str. 25-49

preuzimanja: 2.009



In the introduction of this article, the author outlines the possible
theoretical approaches to the study of the identity of the ethnic group of Bunjevci, based on the results of her research of their cultural heritage. The author suggests that the research on the ethno-genesis of Bunjevci should be related to the research of their identity on theoretical level, because she considers this to be the correct way to reach certain conclusions on the construction of the identity of Bunjevci in the historical context. By combining research of their traditional and of their contemporary culture, we can ensure
a holistic approach in the research of the issues of their identity.
Furthermore, the author compares the influence of ethnical, cultural,
social, historical, political, and environmental-climatic factors on the
construction of identity of Coastal and Danube Bunjevci. Political pressures on Bunjevci in the Danube region have highly influenced the construction of their multiple identities: under the constant pressure to prove their belonging to Croatian nation, they have adopted specific differential markers of their ethnic and cultural identity. Unlike the Bunjevci in the Danube region, Coastal Bunjevci live in the region inhabited by population of the same nationality
and religion, but they differ from the surrounding population historically, socially, culturally and linguistically, and they self-identify primarily in the relation to the population of the town of Senj.
Both branches of Bunjevci base their identity on specific elements of
their traditional cultural heritage. The author outlines the differences in the process of creation of their identity, from objective as well as subjective point of view, using the examples of specific elements of the cultural heritage of Bunjevci: their traditional clothing and economy, as well as the ideas and notions they have of themselves and other branches of Bunjevci.
Traditional clothing of Coastal Bunjevci represents one of the distinctive features of their identity, because their attitude towards the specificities of their own culture is negative. The way they dress is considered rural, as compared to the urban clothing style of the population of the town of Senj, which clearly shows the negative attitude they have towards their own culture. In the region of Krasno Polje, the active role of the association Čuvarice ognjišta Krasno (Keepers of the Hearth - Krasno) contributes to a different attitude towards the traditional clothing in that region. The style of clothing of Bačka Bunjevci in the region around the towns of Subotica and Sombor, who form a part of the Danube Bunjevci branch, is also a symbol of their identity, but unlike Coastal Bunjevci, they show great appreciation for their traditional costume and represent it at numerous festivals and occasions as the symbol of their cultural identity.
Specific and yet different economic elements of the two branches of
Bunjevci point to the important role of economic factors in the construction of identity of Coastal and Danube Bunjevci alike, but which influenced, in a different way, their way of life, and made them specifically recognizable and different from the surrounding ethnic groups. In both branches of Bunjevci, a characteristic element is the communication and integration of rural Bunjevci population with the nearest urban centers, but this communication varies significantly between Coastal and Bačka Bunjevci.
Almost a completely opposite attitude, one positive and one negative,
towards the symbolical display of one’s own identity on the example of traditional clothing and means of subsistence is the result of different ethnocultural, historical, economic and social influences in specific regions, with each of these two branches developing through the period of several centuries in different ways and in different environment and surroundings.
The author also analyses the extent to which Coastal Bunjevci are
conscious of their distinctiveness in relation to the surrounding population, and whether they are aware of the common origin of all the branches of Bunevci, especially Coastal, Lika and Danube region Bunjevci. The analysis has shown that Coastal Bunjevci, with the exception of the population in Krasno, are aware of their belonging to the Bunjevci ethnic group, while there were different testimonies about the connection with other branches of Bunjevci.
Data analysis has shown that the attitude towards traditional heritage
depends on various external factors, and that they can have different influence on the construction of the identity of one ethnic group with common origin. Therefore a holistic approach in the research of their traditional heritage, as well as of the ethno-cultural processes which contributed to the creation and formation of the ethnic group of Bunjevci, can result in better understanding and bring about more objective findings on the questions of the construction of the identity of the Bunjevci as a group, as well as multiple identities of
the respective branches.

Ključne riječi

identity; ethno-genesis; Coastal Bunjevci; Danube region Bunjevci

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