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How Is Serb Identity Being Formed Today?

Belgrade, 13 October 2015




The Helsinki Committee organized a youth seminar in Belgrade as part of the project “Contemporary Serbian Identity in the 21st Century”, realized with the assistance of the Foundation for an Open Society.

Participants in the seminar were university students (philosophy, law, organizational sciences, and economy) and the youth active in the human rights field, all of them eager to learn more about the issue of identity.

Psychologist Žarko Korać delivered the introductory lecture on identity forming and development. Participants were particularly interested in his views about a society’s role in identity shaping of individuals, and social roles individuals are supposed to play under the identities imposed on them. Sociologist Srđan Barišić addressed revitalization of religion and the origins of the phenomenon, emphasizing the fall of the Berlin Wall as the point in modern history that triggered it off. Speaking of religious differences between ex-Yugoslav nations on the one hand, and their similarities on the other, embodied in practically common language, cultural heritage, ethnicities and the once common state, Barišić concluded, “It is very difficult to establish a definite ethnically-based identity in a state still searching for and identity of its own, while threatening the identities of ‘others.”

Historian Milan Subotić spoke about Russian identity discourses and their influence on Serbia. “Two basic types of identity discourses in Russia are Slavophilism and Westernization,” said Subotić. He also discussed the so-called theory of “the advantages of backwardness” promoting the notion about a society’s lagging behind /the developed world/ could be beneficial to it. “If you put the locomotive of progress in the rear of a railroad train, it will only take you back to the glorious past, rather than leading toward development and prosperity.”

Under the same project, the Committee will organize youth seminars in Niš and Novi Sad.













































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