ERSTE Stiftung Books

IDENTITY. The Search for Belonging in a Changing Europe

Identity: The Search for Belonging in a Changing Europe is the product of original research of ten jounalists selected from South East Europe to participate in the 2009 programme of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. This programme responds with financial and professional support to the growing need in the region to foster quality reporting, encourage regional networking amongst journalists and advance balanced coverage on complex issues that are central to the region as well as to the European Union.

The fellows this year explored many of the directions in which the concept of identity is heading. Barbara Matejcic shows how the collapse on an overarching Yugoslav identity left partners in ethnically mixed marriages in a form of no-man´s land. No longer to define themselves as Yugoslavs, they face pressure to accept exclusive Croatian, Serbian or Bosniak identities. The only solution for some is emigration.

Boris Georgijevski and Arian Konomi look at the way in which two states that emerged from the ruins of ex-Yugoslavia – Macedonia and Kosovo – are re-fashioning their identities to meet new circumstances.

Islam has regained its former role as the defining characteristics of the largest ethnic community, but not all Bosnian Muslims are happy to see religion back in a front row seat. Sabina Niksic deals with the fact that the Bosniak identity remains contested.

Momir Tuduric looks at the fate of Roma youngsters who left Serbia as infants, only to be returned from Germany as near-adults. After they thought they had found a new identity, it was stripped from them.

Yana Tavanier leads into the twilight world of the men, women and children incarcerated in asylums on the grounds of mental disability or illness, while Nela Lazarevic looks at the different responses to the rise of gay and lesbian movements in the former Yugoslavia.

Maja Hrgovic examines the challenge to patriarchal values from a different angle, introducing the new generation of Balkan women who have found work in Western Europe and become their families´sole breadwinners and Marius Cosmeanu deals with  with the question “how the mass renaming of streets in former communist countries altered people´s understanding of who they are”.

Finally, Adrian Mogos explores the world of identity seen as a commodity  – an item trafficked on the open market by forgers and thieves.