Communication ETDs

Publication Date

7-1-2013

Abstract

After more than a decade of political investment in integration, Serbia is still awaiting full membership into the European Union and thus is kept on the periphery of an imagined European community. In this difficult and uncertain process, Serbs have faced fractured national discourses that are inscribed with new forms of liminality encapsulated in an externally ascribed position of "flawed Europeans." This dissertation explores the co-construction of national identities in the context of public debate about the country's integration into the EU on Serbian online news websites. Informed by the theoretical and methodological framework of discursive psychology, this research identified interpretative repertoires activated and constructed in dialogic interaction through news reports and readers' online commentaries on the visa liberalization process between 2009 and 2011. The analysis shows that although discontinuous and asynchronous in character, the employment of particular interpretative repertoires normalizes a limited number of positions of identification through which individuals avow their national belonging. Relying on taken-for-granted claims about current economic hardships, lack of alternatives, and memory of lived collective suffering and unjust expulsion from imagined European community, participants in online dialogues construct a normative category of Serbs as damaged Europeans that challenges state-centered identities ascribed by the news discourse. By appropriating EU's cultural politics and symbolic geography, readers' comments mark territorial migrations of an internal and undesirable Other as moral transgression to advance a preference for fixed, clearly defined, and policed boundaries. Simultaneously, they reinterpret asylum seeking as a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances such as living in a failing Serbian state. Articulated through this form of online communication, these constructs enter the public sphere to equip political elites and Serbian citizens with rational means for everyday nationalism, practical othering, and continued discrimination of already-marginalized groups couched in discourses on state citizenship.

Language

English

Keywords

national discourse, online communication, Serbia, identity

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Communication

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Ilia

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schuetz, Jan

Second Committee Member

Schaefer, Richard

Third Committee Member

Bokovoy, Melissa

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