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Researching “Minorities” in a Post-War Context

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study considers a range of issues I experienced when beginning ethnographic fieldwork with Croatian minority activists in Serbia. Given the recent wars, tensions between Croatian and Serbian ruling elites, and Serbia’s European Union accession hopes—which necessitated an emphasis on minority rights—the context was politically sensitive. In the introduction, I explain relevant features of the context. I then discuss how activists framed my presence and how entry was negotiated in light of these sensitivities, including the alliances made and relationships cultivated. Following this, I discuss certain struggles over ways in which actors defined the situation. Finally, in the conclusion, I summarize some of the wider lessons learnt and highlight the contradictions between studying a nationally defined minority and drawing on an anti-nationalist scholarly tradition.

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