chapter  4
20 Pages

From Danish Yugoslavs to Danish Serbs: National Affiliation Caught Between Visibility and Invisibility

WithKristine Juul

Immigrants from Serbia who came to Denmark in the 1970s and 1980s found a large

number of shared values between Yugoslav ideals of brotherhood and unity and the

Scandinavian welfare model. As a result, they felt well integrated into Danish society,

almost to the point of being invisible. This invisibility is upheld through a constant

emphasis on sameness between themselves and the majority population in the public

sphere, while the cultivation of difference has been relegated to the private realm or to

cultural associations such as the Yugoslav Clubs. Over the last decade, this ‘sharing of

values’ has been contested from several points of view. During their absence, Yugoslav

migrants have witnessed the destruction of their homeland and have been forced to take

on a new Serbian identity. In what remained of their former homeland, social and

political instability has stimulated a re-traditionalisation of society. Meanwhile, the

growing attention given to religion and origins has changed the room for manoeuvre of

immigrant families in Denmark, challenging the tight networks hitherto maintained

with the home village. Through interviews with members of the Serbian community in

Denmark, I explore how they manoeuvre between strategies of visibility and invisibility

in their quest to become full members of Danish society while maintaining their cultural

particularities. I also look at the often contradictory ways in which the transformation of

values and norms in Serbian and Danish society have impacted on the cultural and

social practices of Serbian families in Denmark.