Bosnia and Herzegovina Culture


According to ehistorylib, the long conflict that has engulfed Bosnia and Herzegovina and dissolved or forced entire communities to internal emigrate could not fail to negatively affect the spread and maintenance of some traditions, linked, for example, to music or dance. At one time, the folk dance heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the richest and perhaps the least known of the former Yugoslavia; currently, the repertoire is kept alive by folklore groups which in socialist Yugoslavia enjoyed rich state subsidies, and which went through a severe period of economic uncertainty in the years following the conflict. Given the articulated ethnic composition of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the main religious holidays are both Catholic and Orthodox, and Muslim: among the latter, the Bajram and the Kurban Bajram, a three-day period that is repeated twice a year, according to the lunar calendar, during which schools are closed, visits are organized to all family members and baklava is prepared, a typical dessert of Turkish and Balkan cuisine (a pastry filled and covered with sugar syrup and honey). Unfortunately, the spirit of religious tolerance that once led all Bosnians to celebrate the religious holidays of the various communities has dissolved in the war years, destroyed as the mosques, synagogues and churches struck by inter-ethnic hatred. It has been maintained, but even this tends to disappear, the so-called Bosanska Korrida, which sees a large crowd watching a fight between bulls. § The cuisine is similar to that of other Balkan countries, rich in oriental influences that came with the Ottoman domination: kebabbosanski lonac, a dish similar to a stew in which mutton is mixed with cabbage and paprika are widespread everywhere, burek, a pie made up of layers of cheese and meat, and pida, a kind of flatbread filled with minced meat.


Bosnian literature as such was born out of opposition to Serbian and Croatian identities with the dissolution of the former Yugoslavian. Like the Bosnian himself, he is more a sociological and political entity than a linguistic one: before the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina the expression “Bosnian language” was never used, and even the term “Bosnian” appears to appear for the first time in a document of the Dayton Accords. In fact, once upon a time, between the language of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbian, no really significant differences were generally perceived by the speakers themselves. The first written document of the area dates back to 1189, and is a letter written using the Cyrillic alphabet; other medieval ecclesiastical texts in the Cyrillic alphabet are preserved in about twenty manuscripts. corpus of the Middle Ages of Bosnia and Herzegovina is nevertheless engraved on the thousands of tombstones of the churches and cemeteries of the territory (stecci). Starting from the sixteenth century, the Ottoman domination spread Arab culture in the region: a certain Slavic literary production was actually written in Arabic characters (alhamiado). Only with the romanticism of the mid-nineteenth century did a certain nationalist consciousness start in Bosnia too, which led some researchers to document and collect the oral and legendary traditions of the region. In the twentieth century, writers born in Bosnian territory, such as Ivo Andriċ, they have always been considered authors of Serbo-Croatian literature, a category that before inter-ethnic hatred naturally also included the language and works of Bosnia and Herzegovina; only with the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and, above all, with the civil war, did a process of radicalization of identities begin, which resulted in a choice of linguistic and literary fields as well. Not all Bosnian-born intellectuals, however, share this basic nationalism, as in the case of the writer Predrag Matvejević (b.1932), born in Mostar but living in Italy for years, author of essays (Mediterranean Breviary, 2004) and works of fiction that partly reflect on the sudden explosion of a world that seemed settled in its peaceful coexistence. The poet Izet Sarajlić (1930-2002), author of about thirty collections, claims their own Bosnian identity, and therefore non-Serbian nor Croatian, albeit with calm tones devoid of nationalist rhetoric and with sincere adherence to the secularism of culture, the poet Izet Sarajlić (1930-2002), author of thirty collections, among which the book of farewells and Sarajevo’s War Diary stand out, the narrator and playwright Abdullah Sidran (b.1948), and the playwright and essayist Dzevad Karasahan (b.1953) – all led in different ways to reflect on the fate of Sarajevo and the end of the capacity for coexistence that had once characterized the life of their beloved Bosnia – and the Bosnian Serb poet Marko Vesović (b.1945).


If the best-known Bosnian filmmaker is undoubtedly Emir Kusturica (b.1954), who has, however, long ago chosen to live part of the year away from the Balkans, the cinematographic tradition of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the years following the Dayton agreements, experienced a moment of great vivacity. The directors have been entrusted with the task not only of making the horrors of the conflict known to the international community, but of reflecting on the causes and reasons that can, on the contrary, give hope for the return of a peaceful inter-ethnic coexistence. Among the names of the most significant Bosnian directors are Danis Tanović (b.1967) who won the Oscar for No man’s Land (2001), bitter narrative reportage on the days of the disaster, and above all Pjer Zalica (b.1964), author of Benvenuto Mr. President (2003), a well-known documentary maker from Sarajevo who was among the most active members of the SaGA (Sarajevo Group of Authors), a group of intellectuals, poets and artists founded in 1990 by the director Ademir Kenović (b. 1950), during the years of the siege. Kenović himself, along with Zelica and others, was the author of MGM Sarajevo, a long documentary on the siege and civil war made in 1992-94, and of the touching The Perfect Circle (1997), the first film shot in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the end of the war. Finally, the name of Srdan Vuletić (b. 1971), author of Summer in the Golden Valley, should be remembered (2003).

Bosnia and Herzegovina Culture