collective behavior : LUSENET : Sarajevo Diary : One Thread

Dr. Doubt,

I've really enojyed reading your journal entries from your experience so far. One entry that struck me was about the saftey that women feel walking alone at night because of the collective intolerance of violence. INTERESTING!!! Are there other "collective" behaviors that you've noticed, like looking people in the eyes or smiling when they pass on the street? That's something that I always notice (either the presence or absence of it), and I wonder about in other societies.

(I like this opportunity to ask questions! What a neat idea!)


-- katie adamson (, March 16, 2001


Katie, This is great, thanks, a query that leads to a conversation. At night the collective behavior downtown in the old city is convivial and free-spirited. Young people have fun meeting up with friends and being gregarious. When they see a friend, they greet each other with a cheek to cheek kiss. On the trolley, when girl friends see each other heading downtown, they laugh, make room for each other, and converse. Young people go downtown to see and to be seen. It is like a low-key carnival, quite gay but nonthreatening. In relation to strangers, it is not like a small town. People look at me and neither smile nor say hello if there is eye contact. Sometimes I say Dobar dan, and they nod or reply. In my neighborhood, where I shop, people do smile and say hello when they see me. Sarajevo is a small city that has a strong gemeinshaft, something Ferdinand Toennies would call an oxymoron.

-- Keith Doubt (, March 17, 2001.

Professor Doubt & Katie,

Reading Professor Doubt's observation of a "collective intolerance of violence" in Bosnia causes me to recall that this is (or was) characteristic of Germany and other northern European countries (France, Netherlands, Belgium) as I experienced them while living there (as a foreigner) from 1965-1985. According to my wife, this intolerance to violence was also typical in northern Europe during the 1950's and 1960's.

Verbal recognition in neighborhood streets and in neighborhood shops of the backer, butcher, etc. (extending to being addressed by name)is also quite typical. This, I believe, is a continental European pattern of community interaction.

In Germany, typically, contact and exchange of greetings on the street was common in "my" small German town. Eye contact and greeting exchange in a larger German town was less common, but not uncommon and definitely not cause for the suspicion it might cause in America.

I don't believe Europeans question whether or not Balkan culture is European culture. From some of Professor Doubt's diary entries, however, I have the impression that perhaps some Bosnians (and some Americans who took notice) wonder why Europeans took so long to react to genocide within their own house. The roots for northern European behavior regarding the Balkans, I am certain, run very very deep.

As a fairly regular reader of Professor Doubt's diary entries, I believe in the importance of such steady efforts (as his) to shed light on everyday life and lives in times of particular societal stress--like that being experienced in Bosnia today.

Thanks for this contribution! James A. Harmon, Truman State University

-- James A. Harmon (, March 18, 2001.

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