Course Title:The Balkans: Language, Identity, Culture

Course No. SUM19252
Class No. 2
Credit 2
Course Hours 32
Teacher Vesna Požgaj Hadži
Venue West Campus, Comprehensive Building, Room 434

The term Balkans is often used metaphorically for negative stereotypes, very rarely for positive ones. The disdain towards the Balkans was constantly growing during the turbulent 1990s when both political and cultural elites started to fight for their national identities while desperately trying to escape from supranational and from the Balkans. At the same time, the Balkans is often regarded as a perfect metaphor for multiculturalism (e.g. through ethnic music). The course aims to provide an introduction to the languages and cultures of the Western Balkans, particularly of the newly-formed states (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro) established after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, where Serbo-Croatian was the official language up until 1990. The language history is briefly presented starting from the 19th century, which was marked by the national revival and the birth of the common language for Croats and Serbs (1850). The period of multiethnic and multilingual Yugoslavia (1945-1990) is further discussed since it is the time when various cultural and language identities lived together. During the 1990s turbulent socio-political changes occurred, including the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the formation of new states. The Serbo-Croatian language ceased to exist and it was substituted by different standard languages over time: Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin. These changes in the language status also caused changes in the ways language, identity and nation were related. Learning a language cannot be separated from learning a culture, which provides a context used for any communication in foreign language. For that reason, the course offers an insight into the cultural and social diversity of the region while emphasizing both similarities and differences among the cultures that are analysed, compared and closely intertwined. Using the examples of high and low culture, explicit/visible and implicit/invisible culture of the South Slavic area, students develop intercultural communication competence which enables effective and appropriate communication with members of other cultures. Learning about the culture of the Other is also learning about our own culture – by learning about the Other and tolerating the Otherness, we learn about ourselves and our culture.

Teaching Language English
Field The Module of Courses with Disciplinary Orientation: Linguistics
Reference View Syllabus