Our peoples? My identities
This documentary, entitled ‘Naši Narodi? Moji Identiteti: Four Youth Perspectives on National Identity in Post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina’, explores the perspectives of four young people – Mirza, Leila, Lana and Dejan – on the issue of national identity in the post-war context.
By Jacob Seigel-Boettner
On December 14th, 1995, the Dayton Peace Accords stopped the bullets in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Dayton split BiH along ethno-national lines. The Dayton-established constitution recognized three national groups as the constituents of BiH: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. Three presidents, three languages, three textbooks. Residents of BiH are often required to identify themselves as either one of the constituent identities or Other. Bosnian and Herzegovinian is not an option.
Unlike the pre-war generations, young people in BiH today do not have a unifying Yugoslav identity to bring them together. For many, there is no such thing as a collective “Bosnian” national identity. This film explores the issue of national identity for four members of this post-Dayton generation. This is a film about Mirza (17, Sanski Most), Leila (16, Sanski Most), Lana (23, Banja Luka), and Dejan (25, Banja Luka). Through interviews and day-in-the-life footage the film explores whether or not they feel that they can identify with the three constituent identities, how they view the “others,” those from the other entity, and whether they identify themselves as “Bosnian” when it comes to nationality.
National identity in BiH is not synonymous with citizenship. The state of BiH does not promote a single national identity that can define all of those within its borders. It promotes three. This lack of a single national identity that ties individuals to BiH as a geographic space can make defining one’s national identity very complicated. All four interviewees had different answers, almost all of which went to varying degree beyond the three constitutionally recognized identities. All four attributed their national identities to different factors within their lives. Only two equated national identity to something along the lines of citizenship. One country. Three recognized identities. Four perspectives.