Kiss, don’t tell: attitudes towards inter-ethnic dating and contact with the Other in Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Abstract

Structural segregation and normative divisions in Bosnia-Herzegovina make dating across ethnic lines difficult. A detailed and rich scholarship outlines why this is and why young people who want to interact across ethnic lines still choose not to. This paper builds on this scholarship by investigating how individuals can overcome obstacles to inter-ethnic dating in communities recovering from ethnic violence. It does so by examining dating through an adaptation of contact theory, which focuses on activities that are not seen as imposed yet still hold acquaintance potential. These result in the type of contact that can transform relationships between ethnic groups for the better. This framework is applied to data collected through Facebook focus groups and follow-up interviews in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The empirical results show that individuals overcome obstacles to inter-ethnic dating through cooperation and shared aspirations that are inherent to the activity. These enable individuals to overcome structural segregation and to resist divisive normative frameworks that prohibit mixing inter-ethnic contact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalIdentities: Global Studies in Culture and Power
Early online date21 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2022

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