As I prepare to teach my classes on American culture, I reading again the writings of the first European settlers, the first slaves, and even the first native Americans. The question of identity seems both clear and confused. Geography, religion, and language
Here in BiH and in Mostar, the question of identity is also confused and fused with geography, language and religion.
The most recent clear example is the recent win by BiH for the world cup finals. Here in Mostar, i could hear fireworks and joyful celebrations. On the other side, I was told it was calm. You can find articles about celebrations in Sarejevo. And other majority Bosnian areas. But what about the question of the team being the BiH team? About BiH as a unified country? About how one identifies national identity?
As an American, I can only barely understand. On the surface, one can appreciate the seeming mixture of cultures. One can see beauty in the mixing of church bells and calls to prayer. But after a month here, after more than a causal walk through the old city, you can sense deeper divisions. Some of this can be seen in the architecture, and town planning. In the curious line just west of the river, that is splattered with ruined buildings, that disappear in the broad boulevard of shopping. It is the difference in the grocery stores. It is the presence of the Roma, on the edges of town, and in the tourist areas. There are few, if any tourists, on the west side, unless they are found by the cathedral. They travel a strict thin line.
But then again, when I lived in Northern MN, there was the division between the white inhabitants of the town, and the inhabitants of the three reservations, surrounding the town. neither side ever talked to the other. Even on campus, the divisions were starkly present.
It is a difficult thing to talk about, this question of identity.