2013 年 2013 巻 42 号 p. 17-31
As a cultural space, Bosnia was formed on the borders of Western and Eastern Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Religious diversity in the heartland of the Balkans did not cause serious conflict, but rather fostered coexistence, until the end of the Ottoman regime. However, the nationalism that emerged in surrounding areas during the nineteenth century penetrated Bosnia, where the question of national belongings became increasingly pressing in the twentieth century. The collapse of Yugoslavia under the slogan of the “brotherhood and unity” was followed by war; multiethnic Bosnia disintegrated into three ethnic components, those of the Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs, and two political entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republika Srpska. This paper deals with the representation of Bosnia in the literary works of native Bosnian writers; it focuses on the polysemic feature of “the border” and reveals that the diverse portrayal of Bosnia in these works reflects each writer’s experience and the more general social situation. In his short story, “Letter from the Year 1920,” Ivo Andrić presents Bosnia as “a land of hatred” and profiles its religious diversity as generating intercultural conflicts. The depiction of Bosnia as demarked by multiple cultural borders is characteristic of Andric’s compositions; this short story reveals a striking picture of such a Bosnia, one that echoes the writer’s experience in the two disastrous wars of the first half of the twentieth century. Hasan, a character in Meša Selimović’s novel The Dervish and Death, which was published in 1966, describes the Bosnian as an in-between, unfinished creature, deprived of any particular cultural identity. In this depiction, Hasan discloses the internal state of Selimović, an atheistic communist who values traditional Muslim culture. At the same time, the Bosnian depicted by Hasan reflects the condition of the Muslims of Yugoslavia until the end of 1960s, when they remained a vague ethnic group without any official nationality. Andrićʼs character Maks Levenfeld, who depicts Bosnia as a land of hatred, reappears in Dževad Karahasan’s “Letter from the Year 1993,” first published in 1996. In contrast to Andrićʼs Maks, Karahasan’s character describes Bosnia as a multicultural space in which people “jealously” maintain their cultural diversity. Bosnia here is conceptualized as a domain of intercultural communication, and the borders once featured by Andrić as dividing lines are profiled as interstitial spheres that create a society with internal cultural diversity. By reversing the picture represented in the letter of Andrićʼs Maks, Karahasan tries to recover his Bosnia, whose society is balanced by cultural diversity. The different presentations of Bosnia in three writers correspond to diverse conceptualizations of “the border”—Andrićʼs as dividing lines; Selimovićʼs as in-between places where people without clear identification dwell; and Karahasanʼs as interstitial spaces that can generate intercultural relationships. Each also reflects a different phase in the history of Bosnia, from the time immediately after World War II, through the Yugoslav regime, to the collapse of the multinational state.