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The Image of the “Others” in the Oral Literature of Croats from South Baranja

Folkloristika 4/1 (2019): 151‒178
Аuthor: Željko Predojević
Теxт: PDF


This article deals with the image of the other ethnic groups in the oral literature of Croats from the south Baranja region of Eastern Croatia. The author examines how and in what context the ethnics Mađar (Hungarian), Nijemac, Švabo (German, Danube Swabian), Rom, Cigan (Rom, Gypsy) and Srbin, Rac (Serbian, Rascian) are mentioned in different folklore genres narrated by the Croats from south Baranja; and how the language of the Others was implemented in the oral literature of Croats from the region. The majority of studied texts (94% of lyric poetry and 64% of folk tales) is a part of oral literature of the ethnic group Šokci, possibly descendants of Croats from Bosnia who migrated to Baranja in the 18th century. The analysis shows that they perceived the Others differently: mentions of the ethnic group of the Romani have a negative connotation, mentions of the Hungarians have both negative and positive connotation, but mainly positive. The lack of records about the Germans and the Serbs (only one case documented in our material) can be explained by inadequacy of important cultural connections, since their villages where mainly strictly ethnically separated. According to oral literature of the subethnic group of colonized Croats, their own connections with the other groups are described as restrained or positive, which could be a result of historical circumstances. When colonized Croats moved to south Baranja, they were a minority group and did not have any formed collective public identity or their own public cultural practices, so they began assimilating cultural practices of the natives. There is only a small number of texts in which they express their actual opinion about the others. It is argued that because of their suppressed identity and holding a minority position, their opinion about the others was restrained.
Keywords: South Baranja, oral literature, ethnic groups, image of the others, identity, imagology