21 / 2005
Janja Žitnik Serafin


The first part of the article is dedicated to the explanation of those topic-related words or terms in which the meaning and the use can be most diverse with regard to different contexts and different authors’ views. Those words are: nation; national; migrant, migration; emigrant culture.

In the next part of the article, the regular characteristics that have been observed in the development of an emigrant community’s cultural life are exposed, tracing the phases of early beginnings, raise, climax and decline of a community’s cultural activities. Special attention is paid to the interlacing cultural life of the immigrant communities of the same ethnicity but with different period of their presence in the same receiving country, as well as to the double linking role of the emigrants’ cultural activities: the role of the inner connection of a community (the strengthening of the ethnic cultural identity and the resulting strengthening of the ties within the immigrant community, the defense against the assimilation pressures) and the role of the outward linkages (the intercultural and integration role of those activities).

This is followed by a brief presentation of the major spheres of cultural activities in emigration. In the next section the distinct particularities within individual forms of an immigrant community’s cultural activities are outlined. The focus of this section is on diverse criteria used in the examination of the “ethnic signature” of the verbal cultural activities on the one hand and that of the non-verbal ones on the other hand.

The central part of the article deals with the conditions that are required for a fully developed cultural life in emigration. The immigrants of the same ethnicity living in different countries or in different periods of time, or the immigrants of the same ethnicity living in different cultural milieus of the same country, or in the same cultural milieu, but with different length of their presence in it, are submitted to very different conditions of the development of their ethnic cultural life. The most frequently discussed series of factors that determine those conditions are:

1. the existence of an immigrant community;
2. the coherence of the immigrant community;
3. the immigrants’ socio-economic status;
4. the educational structure of an immigrant community;
5. the standards, values and way of life within the immigrant community;
6. the ideological polarization of the immigrant community;
7. the integration of the immigrant culture into the mainstream culture of the receiving country;
8. the integration of the emigrant culture into the national culture of the country of origin.

The next section discusses the most relevant aspects of the current academic treatment of the language, the cultural valence and the cultural identity in emigration. The conclusion brings – along with the quotations of some typical examples of superficial inferences – an explanation of the significance of a complex treatment of the cultural life in emigration, a treatment that considers all of the above mentioned factors which, judging from the findings of various intercultural theories, are most vividly reflected in the emigrants’ cultural life.