chapter  4
26 Pages

4RE-INVENTING CROATIA

The divisions inside the Croatian community described in the previous chapter led to a differentiation in the representational practices of cultural texts, codes of behaviour and often in the organisation of the narrative structures of popular myths regarding the homeland. The very existence of Croatian ethnic groups and clubs in Australia outside the Yugoslav community (of Western Australia) meant that their definition as a ‘different’ ethnic social formation from the Yugoslavs depended on maintaining a sense of difference from and antagonism towards the other groups. Eric Hobsbawm (1983, 1990) characterises nationalist movements of the late twentieth century as essentially negative and divisive with their insistence on ethnicity and linguistic differences, and Hobsbawm’s perspective on the ‘invention of traditions’ provides a useful model for examining how Croatia was reinvented in the light of the break-up of Yugoslavia into separate political nationalism. Thus on the level of ethnic markers and display of ‘holy icons’ of nationhood (the flag, emblem, anthem, etc.), Croatians outside the Yugoslav community often relied on symbols and myths appropriated mainly from the Independent Croatian State (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH). This reliance on symbols of a puppet Nazi regime reproduced and strengthened the popular mythology concerning the fascist tendencies of Croatians that already existed not only in the Yugoslav community but also in the world at large.