Daphne Winland
Department of
Anthropology
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Daphne Winland
Associate Professor

2034 Vari Hall
4700 Keele Street
North York, ON M3J 1P3

Phone: (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33539
Fax: (416) 736-5768
winland@yorku.ca

 

If there is a common theme that has run throughout my career as an anthropologist, it is an interest in the cultural reproduction of ethnic and national identities. This is the conceptual concern around which my research with Croats, Mennonites and Hmong refugees in Canada has been organized. I have always been fascinated, in both a personal and a professional sense, with the exponential increase in identity claims and their often violent manifestations.

My research with Croatians began in 1992, and has consisted of several phases of fieldwork that began during a very tumultuous time for Croatians in Toronto. While walking through the Student Centre on campus in 1992, I noticed a large group of students gathered around one of the student club information tables. The commotion that ensued began with an altercation between students from the different former-Yugoslav republics over the war. At one point, campus security was called in and order was restored, for the moment. The passion and commitment for a war thousands of kilometres

away for many of these mostly Canadian-born students piqued my interest. What was it that inspired such devotion, not to mention occasional displays of contempt for each other? Isn't being Canadian enough? Looking at these issues from the perspective of diaspora and transnationalism became central to my thinking about these questions.

I began investigating the influence of diasporas on nation-building projects, but also the involvement of homelands in construing a national imaginary for diasporas. In the context of a series of field trips to Croatia beginning in 1997, I have spent considerable time investigating these issues and other interests among Croatian diaspora "returnees" to the homeland.

Since 2006, this research has extended to Bosnian Croats in Bosnia and Hercegovina who, faced with slow post-war reconstruction, ethnic/religious tensions, increasingly unstable political, economic and social institutions and a marked increase in anti-Muslim propaganda directed at Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), now see their future in Bosnia and Hercegovina.  Despite exaggerated claims of Al Qaeda infiltration and the presence of Islamic militants in Bosnia, Bosnian Islam has become increasingly characterized as fundamentalist and dangerous by both Croats and Serbs in Bosnia and Hercegovina, bent on the destruction of nations in the Balkans. My publications, projects and research reflect a curiosity with the shifting and often confounding nature of identity construction. I have also built on these interests to explore the fascination with, and embracing of, ideas and practices associated with civil society and citizenship.

What I have learned over the years from people in these contexts who are "living politics" on a daily basis has had a major impact on how I interrogate the relationships between politics, identity, desire, memory and, most important, issues of being and belonging.

 
   
   
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