Serbian Minority,Refugees On The Internet


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Presented by Ting Wang
5th November 2009

Prepared for 2009 Graduate Seminar.
Information Society & Multiculturalism (Prof. Han Woo Park), at Yeungnam Univ. in S. Korea.

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Serbian Minority,Refugees On The Internet

  1. 1. Serbian Minority/Refugees on the Internet <br />In the Midst of Denial and Acceptance of Reality<br />LjiljanaGavrilovi’c<br />Presented by Ting Wang<br /><br />5th November 2009<br />Prepared for 2009 Graduate Seminar.<br />Information Society & Multiculturalism (Prof. Han Woo Park), at Yeungnam Univ. in S. Korea.<br />
  2. 2. Introduce Serbia<br />Serbia: officially the Republic of Serbia is a country located in both Centraland Southeastern Europe. Its territory covers the southern part of the PannonianPlainand central part of the Balkans Belgrade is the capital of Serbia and the largest city.<br />Serbia (Census 2002, excluding Kosovo): 7,498,001<br />Religion<br />Source from<br />
  3. 3. Introduce Serbia<br />Table 1: PDI and UAI of Selected Countries<br />Source: Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005, pp. 43-44, 168-160.<br />Figure 1. Societies by Organizational Model<br />(Burcik & Kohun, 2007)<br />The European Internet Stats were updated for June 30, 2009 (IWS)<br />
  4. 4. Introduce Serbia<br />Serbian site<br />
  5. 5. Political framework<br />Dissolution of Yugoslavia and Yugoslav Wars<br />In the wars of 1991-1996, two new states were created (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), while Macedonia and Slovenia separated without military conflict, and Serbia and Montenegro remained in a joint state until 2006. <br />After the wars, many of these Serbs were forced to move out from their native areas and start living in Serbia, Western European countries, or on other continents (Australia, the United States). <br />
  6. 6. Political framework<br />In the last fifteen years or so, the whole public rhetoric in the former Yugoslavia was based solely on national and nationalistic discourse; its function was to rebuild national identities and promote the formation of new states.<br />The postcolonial and postmodern periods have brought about, as a consequence of reassessment and decomposition during the two centuries of official, normative, political/cultural reality, a crisis of identity on all levels. <br />
  7. 7. Political framework<br />An identity is always built on relations to others, thus, if there are no relationships with others, it follows that there is no identity either. <br />Different group identities make up an essential part of an individual, personal identity and vice versa; threatening to an individual (who am I?) also threatens all the other versions of the group identities (who are we?)<br />Most definitions of culture are based, explicitly or implicitly, on a culture’s content, namely what can be perceived and described with relative ease. <br />National identity<br />Prefix-in fact<br />The processes of<br />globalization<br />
  8. 8. Political framework<br />If we define the culture/identity by its content, the question becomes, which elements are to be used in defining the same. <br />There are numerous cultural models that diverge from each other by their other elements: social organization-which could be territorial or tribal in traditional or tribal in traditional areas or more open in new, urban centers of culture-ideal models of behavior and worldviews, subsistence economy, material culture habitations, diet, and dress.<br />In the case of the southern Slavs, the language appears to be distinctive mark in the process of national separation: in bi- or multinational areas, it is the language that serves as a primary element of identification (given by birth alone), while religion appears to be the secondary. <br />In monolingual but bi- or multinational areas, religion appears to be the primary element of identification.<br />
  9. 9. Internet: Identification versus Ghettoization<br />Ghettoization:<br />The process by which minority groups are forced out of the mainstream either physically or culturally.<br />(Ghettoizationof the Jews occurred during WW2 when they were forced to live in only specific areas. )<br />Urban dictionary:<br />Through the internet smaller cultures have an opportunity to present their total cultural inheritance, and in that way, to help the defining process of their role and place within the network of European and world cultures.<br />This is also an opportunity for ethnic groups that were unable to create their own national state, as well as for those who live divided in many different states. <br />The internet appears to be a global network, the space within is segmented in different ways.<br />Language usage<br />
  10. 10. Internet: identification versus ghettoization<br />Search smarter. 14,400,000 web documents Serbian<br />All Serbian “refugee” sites are defined as locations exclusively in Serbian language, and thus are made available to only Serbs worldwide, and even then, only to those who maintained the language-and are thus not available to emigrants from third, fourth, or even older generations who lost, forgot, or use the Serbian language with difficulties.<br />
  11. 11. Domain Names<br />Domain name reflects political attitudes<br />It is interesting, though, that the “.srb” TLD did not appear in some form, which could explicitly express a belonging to the Serbian culture and so mark the Serbian language space on the Internet. <br />This could point out an implicit national, and even language/cultural, rights were protected (more than they are now), but could also point out a degree of nostalgia for the former state.<br />
  12. 12. Refugees’ locations<br />Serbian “minority” or “refugee” locations developed in three basic directions.<br />group 1.<br />The largest group of websites represents a clear expression of nostalgia.<br />The content is mostly limited to descriptions, photographs, customs, music and folklore, and images that the refugees see as a representation of selfness and their own culture of the lost homeland. These sites do not posses a high technical level nor do they have fulfilling contents, although an effort to present things nicely is clearly evident. <br /><br />
  13. 13. Refugees’ locations<br />The sites offer images of the world that does not exist anymore, idealized by its own cessation and the fact that it will never come back. <br />These sites represent the past, without the present or future. The insistence on history---mostly idealized in a romanticized manner---and on long-abandoned tradition clearly speaks to a lack of an idea that they exist today in the here and now (even if they are experiencing contemporary dislocation), hence, that there is no idea of a return to the homeland. <br />
  14. 14. Refugees’ locations<br />group 2.<br />Group is more concentrated on the present moment and communication in general, as evident from the content and presentation of the sites.<br />The site has maintained a high level of communication among people from the whole parts of the former Yugoslavia.<br />Sites also gather all the others who might be interested in the particular culture of the area, understood not as a combination of idealized tradition and folklore, but as a totality.<br />The central place of these sites is the forum, where visitors exchange opinions on various subjects, from politics and religion, to sports and gender relations.<br />
  15. 15. Refugees’ locations<br />group 3.<br />Group is made up of locations directed at maintaining intra group cohesion, regardless of the actual residence of the group members.<br />These sites are well-designed and are visited very often. However, their bare existence is in opposition to the idea of intercultural communication because these sites insist on group cohesion and firm boundaries toward everybody outside the group; their basic premise is to maintain and preserve the “native” tradition of all Serbs from Krajina and Bosnia and Herzegovina. <br />
  16. 16. Refugees’ locations<br />Site’s contents<br />songs have lyrics such as:<br />I went to Austria, Germany and Switzerland,<br />but my heart still longs for where the people from Krajina are.<br />I went to Romania, track to Rome,<br />But such beauty is to be found only in Krajina.<br />I went to America, went to Chicago,<br />But there’s nothing like one’s home doorstep.<br />Worldwide I have travelled, my destiny followed me everywhere,<br />But my home in Krajina calls for me still.<br />Based on the site’s contents, the maintenance of Krajina’s traditional culture is made up of preserving the local language, Cyrillic, particular customs and elements of traditional culture.<br />These are the elements of the traditional culture that the refugees from Krajina wish and long for, even in their new environments, that are supposed to be the basis of their identity.<br />
  17. 17. Refugees’ locations<br />Site’s contents<br />It is obvious that the presented content of their traditional culture in fact corresponds to the mythical image of the Golden Age, placed, in this case, in KninskaKrajina, in some undetermined, undefined time before their dislocation.<br />vision is directed toward the members of the group wanting to maintain the status quo and have no desire or need to communicate with the rest of the world.<br />These images do not contain a trace of a real-life economy, education, or social relationships. The site Polaca.kom is, in effect, a transposition of a traditional ideal model into a new form, with an effort to create a particular virtual environment corresponding to ideal type of culture/society seen through the eyes of the refugees from Krajina.<br />
  18. 18. Refugees’ locations<br />Site’s contents<br />The most interesting parts of these sites are the forums, where visitors and members talk about different subjects. As a rule, subjects discussing politics attract the most visitors.<br />One thing is for sure: we from Republic of Srpska and those from SER are not the same people, nor we could ever be. We from Republic of Srpska have fought bravely for future, with honour and decency. (Username: placenik, October 10, 2003)<br />These types of messages are allowed, implying that the attitude of those who run the locations, as well as their users, are permissible and open to this kind of content. <br />These messages reflect a total political blindness, since they can excommunicate the whole group, not just from the actual state, but from the framework of the whole world. They are in direct opposition to the efforts to establish any kind of minority rights (national, ethnic, cultural). <br />
  19. 19. Language and Alphabet<br />An emphatic attitude that Cyrillic is the only true alphabet for anyone considering him- or herself a Serb, and that all Serbs worldwide should, in intracommunication, use only Cyrillic. <br />Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian languages are, in practice, one and the same language, after the fall of the former Yugoslavia. This forced “multilingual” situation cannot prevent users of the new languages from understanding and communicating with each other, in spite of the fact that they live in different states and have acquired different ethnic and national identities. The only factual difference between the languages is that the Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet.<br />While Cyrillic is used only when they want to emphasize their ethnic and national belonging.<br />
  20. 20. Language and Alphabet<br />While the first two groups of the Serbian refugee sites are mostly in Roman or in both alphabets, the third group of sites is written exclusively in Cyrillic although many of their respective members are not able to obtain the support needed for these languages on their computers.<br />It is also interesting how these three groups use the language. <br />
  21. 21. Perspectives<br /><ul><li>The first category is internally directed, nevertheless: toward the ones who can recognize themselves as a part of the group (many of the refugees associated with a local area) who share nostalgia for the lost native land.
  22. 22. The second category is directed both inward and outward, and is totally integrated in the present time/reality. It tells about obstacles of life in a new environment, and also about life values
  23. 23. The third group shows intolerance toward all others who do not see the category “we” as often including Serbs from Serbia. They are extremely inward-oriented, intolerant, xenophobic, and reflect hatred toward their differences and all who differ in any way.</li></li></ul><li>Perspectives<br /><ul><li>In order to promote a culture of Serbs outside Serbia, it would be useful to provide institutional help (currently not given); that is, the stimulation of Serbian minorities to represent themselves more on the Internet.
  24. 24. The example of representation of Serbian refugees on Internet is symptomatic in many ways. It shows how:</li></ul> in the contemporary moment various identities (ethnic, group) are being constructed on the Internet independent of the community residing in the same space, but dependent from a discourse, based on totally different symbols (language, alphabet, memories, traditions, hatred against others, nostalgia).<br />
  25. 25. Thank you.<br />Presented by Ting Wang<br /><br />5th November 2009<br />Prepared for 2009 Graduate Seminar.<br />Information Society & Multiculturalism (Prof. Han Woo Park), at Yeungnam Univ. in S. Korea.<br />