Interview with Prof. Dr. Besim Spahic
What do people from other countries think about Bosnia-Herzegovina?
It depends on how much they know or don’t know about us, and what their
prejudices regarding us are. Bosnia-Herzegovina was a part of
Yugoslavia, an independent subject as a region of the Republics. For a
decade and a half before the collapse of Yugoslavia, Bosnia was well
known throughout the world for the Olympics as well as the birthplace
of two Nobel Prize-winners and of many world famous talents (such as
the film director Emir Kusturica and the musician Goran Bregovic).
In recent years, foreign media have labeled us through war images.
Thus, when people from abroad visit any Bosnian-Herzegovinian town they
experience a cultural shock. These towns live a more or less civilized
life and offer a rich cultural content unlike the economy which is
catastrophic and totally destroyed. Foreigners do not see existing
internal subjective problems. They meet familiar people who have
contributed to the process of building European civilisations to which
they are completely racially and visibly related, which is not
surprising given the fact that the Central Balkans are the cradle of
the European population. Despite the proclaimed multiethnicity in
Bosnia, however, the multiracial societies which are present in almost
all parts of the EU are just beginning here.
How would you describe Bosnian people?
We are very creative and polyvalent nation which has a good sense of
humor; a people who for centuries nurtured multiethnicity and
multiconfessionalism with a high coefficiency of tolerance on which
Europe is still working.
Like most people in the Balkans, we have our verbal anecdotes or verbal
formulations that are the product of deep layers of past and mental
structure, in this area which is a crossroad of civilizations and the
battlefield of various empires. Brothers by mother (braća po materi),
murderers by father (ubice po oćevima), for centuries we beat each
Austro-Hungary exploited many Bosnians of different religions in their
battles, which were considered among the best soldiers on their fronts.
That’s why the Bosnian equivalent for ‘peaceful sleeping’ is related to
war: ‘sleeping as slaughtered’.
Can you tell us some anecdotes about Bosnians?
During former Yugoslavia, men from Bosnia -Herzegovina were considered
attractive, so they often were in relationships with women from other
countries. There is a funny anecdote about Sejo (a Bosnian guy) and
Charlotte (an American woman).
He took Charlotte out for dinner and she asked him for a traditional
Bosnian cake. He said he will take her to try Tufahija (sweet apple
desert), but she answered: “So, Bosnians are like that, on first date
they want to f!?k you!“
Prof. Dr. Besim Spahic works at the Faculty of Political Sciences and the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo: He has published several books, among others ‘Challenges of Political Marketing: To Pass the Second Exam or To Kill Bosnia-Herzegovina’ (2000), ‘The Image of the City’ (2001), ‘National Anti-Marketing of ex Yu and BH Nations’ (2001).
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