In schools, the two ethnic groups live what can be characterized as parallel lives, giving the impression that they almost completely ignore the other group. The reason for this, according to informants, is most often not nationalist sentiment but a lack of knowledge of the Serbian language, which is taken for granted as the lingua franca of all minority-majority communication. For my informants, scarce contact with members of other ethnic groups is an unquestioned routine that is further normalized and even enhanced by the family, the school and, more often than not, in the course of entertainment and leisure activities.
What the analysis of interviews with young people from Kishegyes shows is that the majority-minority division is not that clear-cut as literature suggests. Even though Hungarians are considered and treated as a minority by the majority, most of the informants carry out their activities and invest in social relationships seemingly oblivious to their minority status.
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As a result, their experience of minority status happens in terms rarely articulated as ethnic, but rather linguistic. The knowledge or lack of knowledge of the state language determines life choices, career options and places of residence. Because of their general lack of competence in the Serbian language or their lack of desire to speak it for one reason or another, many young people, especially those who want to enter universities, are oriented towards Hungary, which they see as their best option for further education.
Even though several of my informants have plans for higher education in Hungary and have reported positive feelings about the country again, the reason for this being the ability to speak and be understood fully without investing additional effort , an approximately equal number of informants have described themselves as belonging neither here nor there: being treated as Hungarians in Serbia and as Serbians in Hungary.
Another issue which has come to the forefront in the course of the interviews is the complex nature of the Other. Apart from the Serbs who in Kishegyes are mainly refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina who came to village in the s, a new ethnic group of Muslim Kosovars has recently moved to the village and became an even greater ethnic Other. The new group, which distinguishes itself by the appearance and language of its members much more than do local Serbs, has somewhat mitigated the Hungarian-Serbian differences and conflicts and brought new distinctions to the forefront, particularly the Christian-Muslim dichotomy.
Over the past several years, then, discourses of threat and otherness have been transferred from local Serbs to the new inhabitants of the village. Based on these initial results of my research, instead of drawing general conclusions, I point out some of the challenges of conceptualizing ethnic identification of minority youth in a post-socialist setting.
First, the lens through which social scientists who study ethnicity see the world is ethnically colored Brubaker, Ethnicity without Groups. The difficult task for those who study ethnicity is thus how to see elements of identification other than ethnicity. In the case of the topic of this research, the methodological problem is how to account for the dynamics between ethnicity and age, but also factors such as gender, race, social class, subculture membership, etc.
Second, as mentioned in the section on multiculturalism and its critics, an oft-cited critique of multiculturalism is that it cannot account for diversity and change within a culture. In the case of Vojvodina, the metaphor for multiethnicity used is often that of the mosaic, in which traditional ethnic cultures peacefully coexist next to each other and in which single ethnic cultures are internally stable and homogeneous. A similar critique has been voiced with regard to classical anthropology: ethnographic works often present groups as homogeneous and static, not paying enough attention to intra-group variation and social change Goldberg; McLaren.
T he fact that a group is an ethnic minority on the state level does not necessarily mean that its members experience themselves as such in all situations, especially if this minority is a majority on the local level. The analytical issue in this case is how to account for their experiences and how to conceptualize majority-minority relations more flexibly. Fourth, as the case study outlined above suggests, language can be the main carrier of ethnic identity, a fact that is sometimes not emphasized enough in existing studies on multiculturalism and ethnic relations in general and in Vojvodina specifically.
I believe that contemporary sociocultural anthropology needs a more thorough theorization of the linguistic aspect of social interaction, i. Last, it is not easy to separate the object from the subject of the research. To do anthropology at home—as part of the community under study for some reasons and not part of it for other reasons—often also means attempting to overturn the relationship between observer and the object of study.
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Abstract This article discusses theories of multiculturalism and ethnicity in light of the ethnic identification of minority youth. Bennett, Andy and Keith Kahn Harris eds. My main conclusion is that the plausibility of the historical claims can be determined only by reference to the best understanding of human rights themselves. Institutes, Centres, Groups. Political Science Intranet.
Young Lecture in Political Science. Current Research Projects 1. The Origin of Human Rights: Four Competing Hypotheses This article-in-progress evaluates several recent, influential, and competing accounts of the history of human rights by examining their historical arguments in light of two dominant philosophical conceptions of the nature of human rights.