Country: United States (Tennessee)
Mila Dragojević is an Associate Professor of Politics at the University of the South. Dragojević teaches international politics courses in Conflict and Peace and Identity and Diversity concentrations, as well as comparative politics classes focusing on Europe and Latin America. In her first book, The Politics of Social Ties: Immigrants in an Ethnic Homeland (Ashgate 2014/Routledge 2016), Dragojević examined socio-political incorporation processes of former refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in Serbia. Her research was also published in Slavic Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Nationalities Papers. Her current book project, entitled Amoral Communities: Collective Crimes in Time of War, analyzes wartime violence against civilians in Croatia, Uganda, and Guatemala. This research was funded by the Appalachian College Association, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, James D. Kennedy III Fellowship, as well as Barclay Ward Faculty Research grants and Faculty Development grants from the University of the South.
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Immigration & Citizenship
Conflict Processes & War
Comparative Sub-state Politics
Politics Of Migration
This article examines how the production of a dividing line, through violence, the accompanying narratives, and the policing of a physical border from 1991 to 1995, shaped and influenced the lives of ordinary people, all residents of Western Slavonia. How was it possible for people to be divided so abruptly and effectively in a community with a history of multiethnic solidarity? How were these new social divisions produced and reproduced over the course of warfare on a social level? By considering new archival sources, in-depth interviews, and recent scholarly publications, this study argues that such dividing line made the process of ethnicization, or of polarization, possible. Thus, by representing the space where the top-level political cleavages, local-level cleavages, and individuals’ beliefs and momentary choices meet, the wartime dividing line effectively transformed former neighbors into political enemies who were no longer familiar, visible, or accessible on a human level.
This article examines the role of the inter-generational memory of the Second World War (WWII) in identity formation and political mobilization. An existing explanation in the ethnic-conflict literature is that strategic political leaders play a crucial role in constructing and mobilizing ethnic identities. However, based on 114 open-ended interviews with individuals born in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, conducted in Serbia during 2008–2011, nearly a third of the respondents make spontaneous references to WWII in their statements, usually drawing parallels between the cycle of violence in the 1990s and that in the 1940s. The question this article asks, then, is why some respondents make references to WWII spontaneously while others do not. It is argued that inter-generational narratives of past cycles of violence also constitute a process of identity formation, in addition to, or apart from, other processes of identity formation. The respondents mention WWII violence in the context of the 1990s events because they “recognize” elements, such as symbols, discourse or patterns of violence, similar to those in the inter-generational narratives and interpret them as warning signs. Hence, individuals who had previously been exposed to inter-generational narratives may be subsequently more susceptible to political mobilization efforts.
In contrast to studies that examine cases of immigrant incorporation where the newcomers differ culturally from the established residents, this study controls for the ethnic identity of immigrants by considering the case of former refugees in Serbia who fled violent conflicts in the early 1990s. It also disaggregates the incorporation concept into three dimensions – social, political and economic. Based on the original survey of 1,200 respondents, this article shows that the three dimensions of incorporation do not move in unison. Immigrants incorporate economically and politically to a greater degree in neighbourhoods where the proportion of immigrants is larger, while they incorporate socially to a lesser degree in those same neighbourhoods, as evident in the tendency to form interpersonal networks consisting mainly of other immigrants.
This case study of the northern Serbian Province of Vojvodina explores the basis of regional shared group understandings in the absence of ethnic difference between the majority in the region and the center. It addresses the question of whether there is an emerging regional identity in Vojvodina within the political elite discourse at the time of the passage of the Omnibus Law in 2002, which devolved part of autonomy that the Province had lost following the 1991 Constitution. The method of content analysis was employed to uncover the collective sense of social purpose (i.e. desire for greater autonomy) and the shared views toward groups perceived as ‘others’. The findings show that the principal supporters of autonomy are the center-based civic-oriented parties, as well as the regional parties. On the other hand, the opposition to autonomy comes from the center-based nationalist parties.
National identity traits are not “fixed,” and an ethnic group may emphasize distinct traits at different stages of national identity construction. This study examines the case of Croatia, where religion was stressed in an earlier phase of identity construction while language has become the principal group-distinguishing feature in the most recent period. It is argued that language was chosen primarily by secular elites with a goal not only of distinguishing between “us” and “them,” but also in order to secure a privileged status within their own group.
After forced migration to a country where immigrants form an ethnic majority, why do some individuals support exclusivist and nationalist political parties while others do not? Based on extensive interviews and an original survey of 1,200 local Serbs and ethnic Serbian refugees fleeing violent conflict in Bosnia and Croatia, The Politics of Social Ties argues that those immigrants who form close interpersonal networks with others who share their experiences, such as the loss of family, friends, and home, in addition to the memory of ethnic violence from past wars, are more likely to vote for nationalist parties. Any political mobilization occurring within these interpersonal networks is not strategic, rather, individuals engage in political discussion with people who have a greater capacity for mutual empathy over the course of discussing other daily concerns. This book adds the dimension of ethnic identity to the analysis of individual political behavior, without treating ethnic groups as homogeneous social categories. It adds valuable insight to the existing literature on political behavior by emphasizing the role of social ties among individuals.