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Manifold Identity of the Czechs from Jazvenik


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Rajković Iveta, Marijeta. (2005). Manifold Identity of the Czechs from Jazvenik. Etnološka tribina, 34-35(27-28). pp. 237-287. ISSN 0351-1944

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A group of Czech people whose ancestors have moved to another part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century lives in Jazvenik. Due to political changes, the Empire has divided into several states and this ethnic group has become a national minority. The aim of this paper is to research the ways the historical changes have reflected from the macro to the micro level, that is, to the culture and the everyday lives of individuals. During the process of assimilation the majority of Czech people have changed their national identities. This change has been influenced mostly by political and economic changes, as well as marital connections. From the offical documents, one could conclude that there are merely few Czechs in Jazvenik. I was interested in whether this group of people has preserved Czech cultural identity. I have therefore asked my informants to tell me which are the distinguishing features that create the difference between the Czechs and the Others. Within a family, life is very different from the lives of Croatian families; for example, they speak Czech, use Czech names, eat Czech food, as well as celebrate some parts of calendar and life customs. That means that the cultural identity lives within families; however, it has lost its elements since the 1960s. Parts of customs or even the whole customs that were present only within families have begun to disappear. However, the customs in which more people participate, for example, the carnival customs, not only continue to live, but also become enriched with new elements, taken from other Croatian Czechs. In these processions ‡ today performed in much wider area than before ‡ participate also people who have changed their "official" identity. That means that some elements of the Czech culture are present also within families, having no task of being the Czech identity markers, unlike other elements which are intended for the public sphere. The members of this group define the cultural symbols which they will emphasize. Since the identity is a variable category, ethnicity and identity live, that is, are being changed and their continuity does not mean a fixed authenticity. The transformations of (individual, group, local, ethnic and national) identity have been shown through clothing. The overview of clothing can show us several stages. In the first half of the twentieth century, clothes of the Jazvenik Czechs was different from the clothes of the Croats only on the local level. The way people dressed has not have the task of emphasizing ethnic differences, but was merely of practical. The symbolic function of costumes has began to be gradually emphasized since 1925. Namely, numerous members of this community, especially the young, have participated in Czech harvest. Activities of cultural and arts society, primarily the stage performances, has turned national costume into a means of presentation and identification on the local, regional, national and international level. The creation of today's national costume the way it is shown in stage performances has been strongly influenced by a Czech choreographer whose aim was to strengthen the cohesion of the Jazvenik Czechs with other members of this minority in Croatia, as well as with the Czechs in their homeland. Although the origins of the adopted costumes does not match the territory from which the Jazvenik Czechs have moved, they have accepted them as a means of identification. While they change their individual national identity, their group ethnic identity continues to live. The third stage is when the carriers of the (group) Czech identity (the cultural and arts society's dancers) perform at the International Folklore Festival in the Czech Republic in these Czech national costumes, but with Croatian national symbols (state flag). I consider this example to be the best confirmation of the manifold identity of individuals.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: identity, the Czechs, Jazvenik, clothes
Subjects: Ethnology and cultural anthropology
Departments: Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 12:54
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:54

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