Lost in Migration? Narratives of (non-)Belonging of Diasporic Identities

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Ana MIJIC, University of Vienna, Austria
At the very beginning of Olja Alvirs debut-novel “Kein Meer“, her protagonist Lara Voljić, a young Viennese of Bosnian descendent remarks: “I am too young to be entitled to be traumatized by the war. However, I am too old to know nothing about it – too old not to be concerned.” (Olja Alvir 2016, Kein Meer, 8). Broadly speaking Lara is inquiring the boundaries of her lifeworld which is substantially characterised by war and migration. She is trying to understand what lies within and what lies beyond these boundaries; and what she is allowed or able to disconnect from her individual biography.

Within an ongoing sociological research project at the University of Vienna I am focusing on the identity-formation and transformation of the Bosnian diaspora(s)—i.e. Bosniaks, Bosnian Croats, and Bosnian 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 people from Bosnia-Herzegovina have to (re-)construct their self-images—their individual identities as well as their collective belonging(s). These diasporic post-war identities will be analyzed by the means of a hermeneutical analysis of narrative interviews.

In my contribution I would like to focus on a hermeneutical reconstruction of the life stories of Bosnian Viennese, who came to Austria as child refugees during the war in the 1990ies. I am aiming to decipher the dynamics of identity-construction and re-construction in the light of the experienced war as well as their socialization in different “objective realities” (Peter L. Berger & Thomas Luckmann) and to work out their sense of belonging and identification.