Publication details

Serbian youth between national dream and dreams of a better life abroad



Year of publication 2021
Type Conference abstract
Description Serbia has a long history of leaving - since the 70’s it has been a source of massive emigration flows, directing mainly to the West. During my (auto)ethnographic research, I have examined how the contemporary Serbian youth is torn between national(ist) Serbian dream and dreams and images of a better life abroad, and how previous foreign emigration is helping create and reinforce those dreams. Perceived deprivation theory has been a focal point of the research, and I have focused on the Serbian diaspora’s impact on the dreams of those who have stayed. Dream of leaving has become part of national identity and folklore, especially for the contemporary Serbian youth that grew up isolated due to war, sanctions, and subsequent strict visa regime. Not many young people had a chance to experience life abroad first-hand, and the vast Serbian diaspora has been acting as a mediator who has helped create and reproduce geographical imaginaries of the world outside. Serbian diaspora still has a pivotal role in (re)creating these imaginaries and dreams, and its role has not subsided, even with the appearance of the social networks. First-hand images in real-time of a „perfect“ life abroad can further fuel the dreams of compatriots that have stayed behind. Furthermore, a national narrative of greatness and importance of the Serbian people has also been reinforced by part of the Serbian diaspora that did not integrate entirely into the destination country. Those individuals, who stayed on the margins of western societies, reinforce occidentalist images of the western cultures as cold, career-orientated, and soulless. At the same time, they strengthen a Serbian national dream of superiority. In this contribution, I will try to answer what it means to leave and what it means to stay in the dreams of Serbian youth.
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