Thursday, May 13, 2010

Does the Country Claim the Person, or Does the Person Claim the Country

A recent article from the Southeast Europe Times raises some interesting issues:

Honouring Mesa Selimovic

While countries argue over who gets to claim Selimovic, the man himself seemed to understand that national identification was a choice, not something decided by blood. Whether he was Bosnian or Serbian, he realized he was free from the constraints of tribal identity. His "blood" was not his destiny.

He also seemed to understand that identity is a complex thing; something facsists and extreme nationalists (as well as relgious fundamentalists and all other zealots) are incapable of grasping. He was able to embrace a Serbian identity without renouncing his former Bosnian identity.

The idea that the individual is free to reinvent him or herself, and to adopt and claim new identities, is fundamental to genuine freedom. Too many writers in the Balkans preached that ethnicity is destiny; how refreshing to celebrate one who knew better.


Katja R. said...

Ethnicity and religion just don't work the same way in the Balkans as they do in the U.S. Ethnic identity and religious identity are a LOT more political in the Balkans than they are in the States. Unless you are Black in Chicago or Alabama or an American Muslim, you are simply not going to experience anything like what these issues are in the Balkans.

Srebrenica Genocide said...

I don't believe that Mesa Selimovic embraced Serbian identity by writing a letter to SANU. We know that SANU is composed of liars and historical distortionists. They probably forged the letter and his signature to make him Serbian, so they could assimilate his achievements in the 'Great Serb nation'. S