Conversation with my classmates: displacement, war, and survival

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Serbia is a country with a long tradition of emigration. The increase in the number of displaced people sharply rose in 1992 when all the diplomatic options to preserve Yugoslavia had failed. The ensuing ethnic conflict resulted in mass mobilization by young adults who were required to go to war, mainly against their will. The main purpose of the paper is twofold: to draw attention to the key challenges that displacement plays on individuals and to show how traumatic events, such as the war in Ukraine, can mobilize historical traumas. To elicit deeper and new understandings of how displacement impacts people, conversations with my elementary school classmates of Hungarian ethnic origin, including those who were serving the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) between 1991 and 1992, were analysed through the lens of the author’s autoethnographic positioning. It shows how life stories are co-produced through narrative inquiry and, by ‘co-reflecting’ on the past, it shows how they are simultaneously positioned within social categories of intersectionality, such as gender, social inequality, stayed and displaced. These reflections offer a broader understanding of how qualitative research can enrich existing knowledge of the effect of this specific conflict, and ethnic conflict in general.
Original languageEnglish
Article number75
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2023


  • displacement
  • intersectionality
  • autoethnography
  • qualitative analysis
  • minority ethnic

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