(Not) Sharing Culture(s): Narrating the 'Others' Within 'Our' Culture
Boris Škvorc (University of Split, McQuarie University, Sidney)
Since the introduction of the concept of imagined communities in the sense of artificial entities representing a ‘deep, horizontal comradeship’ (B. Anderson, 1991), the concept of shared culture within limited boundaries is regarded to have been a dominant cultural force in the nineteenth as well as the first half of the twentieth century. This situation of cultural separation as well as forceful imposition of one’s own culture upon another or other culture(s) has been a dominant practice up until the deconstruction of the concept of identity took place, which is now understood as a construct rather than natural ‘given’. In the development of this concept a new awareness of the hybrid character of culture(s) came up in various cultural studies projects. Despite the insight that ‘even in modernism every culture was to a certain degree also a hybrid concept’ (owing to various influences coming from without as well as from the popular culture), a real idea of hybridization emerged not earlier than with the postcolonial theory (Bhabha, 1994) which, more resolutely than it was the case before, drew attention to the penetration of ‘others’ into the body of stable cultural concept(s).
In view of the above, in this paper I will analyze the hybrid character of Croatian culture starting from the construction of (Romantic) stereotypes up to their various re/constructions during the twentieth century. The multicultural types of Croatian Diaspora (in Canada and Australia) and their identity constructions will be given a special consideration. I will argue that at least three types of deconstruction and reconstruction of ‘national narratives’ take place in this transnational space, as well as within the country of origin. This occurs at the level wherein the penetration of ‘others’ into the ‘genuine’ space of national corpus is noted, but also in the environment in which the ‘others’ build their identity within the corpus of another dominant culture. This entails that, on the one hand, a horizontal deconstruction of the ‘united space’ is going on, which produces a number of ‘others’ within the image of ‘our culture’. On the other hand, however, the vertical penetration of constructed ‘eternal’ narratives is stereotyped differently in different spaces, depending on the opposition between ‘homeland’ and ‘diasporic’ positioning, as well as on the type of history reconstructed. And, finally, the existence of ‘others’ within both realms – the diaspora as well as the country of origin - produces the fictionalization of media as well as an imaginary realm of voluntary isolation in a part of imagined community that resists hybridization. In the final part of this paper I will discuss the manner in which diasporic communities and policy makers of both the country of origin and host countries, deal with these issues in the period of global interaction between (some) nations and cultural circles.