Tracing the Diasporic Condition—an Interdisciplinary Analysis of Identity-Formation within the Bosnian Diasporas in Vienna

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Angelika FRUHWIRTH, University of Vienna, Austria
Ana MIJIC, University of Vienna, Austria
A current sociological research project on transnational identities conducted by one of the contributors is focusing on the Bosnian diaspora or the Bosnian diasporas respectively—e.g. Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs—living in Vienna. According to the initial presupposition of this project, wartime, post-war, and migration constitute a very particular and tense context within which the Bosnian diasporas have to (re-)construct their self-images. The project aims to decipher these identities by analyzing interviews with Viennese Bosnians of different ethnic belonging. However, it seems to be most promising to enhance this genuine sociological approach by adopting the analytical tools of literary studies.

In our contribution we will focus on the analysis of prose literature written by Viennese authors migrated from Bosnia. Against the background of central insights from Juri Lotman’s “Semiotic Theory of Culture”, and post colonial theory (Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak) as well as classical theory of prose (e.g. Gerard Genette) we will analyze the structures of narration which are—according to our hypothesis—characterized by the aforementioned tensions evoked by war and migration. It is to be expected that this analysis will reveal aspects of diasporic identities which could not be captured by classical sociological approaches. In literature, social conditions and personal experiences are artistically processed and already reflected. The reconstruction of these conscious or unconscious reflections on reality introduces an additional level within the research about the self-images of Bosnian diasporas living in Vienna. By bringing sociology into dialogue with study of literature our presentation will, furthermore, make an important contribution to an interdisciplinary analysis of transnational identities.