23 / 2006
Janja Žitnik Serafin


The central theme of the article is the factors observed in Slovenian society that stimulate the immigrants’ expressing or concealing their ethnic and cultural identity. In the 2002 census, the share of those who did not state Slovenian ethnicity was 17 %. Approximately 10 % of the population marked the answer “unknown ethnicity”, were ethnically undetermined, or did not answer. Only 6.2 % of the population stated one of the ethnicities relating to other parts of former Yugoslavia, whereas all the other Non-Slovenian ethnicities together, including the autochthonous minorities, constituted less than one per cent of the population. The immigrants from other parts of former Yugoslavia represent 90 % of all first-generation immigrants now living in Slovenia. A comparison between immigration and ethnicity statistics, combined with the results of particular local investigations, show that in the 2002 census not only a vast majority of second-generation but also a considerable part of first-generation immigrants stated Slovenian ethnicity.

Parts of the fieldwork, the results of which are analyzed in this article, were focused on the question of how much the immigrants from other parts of former Yugoslavia feel accepted and equal in Slovenia, and how often, in what circumstances and for what reason they may tend to conceal their ethnic/cultural identity. We wanted to find out whether – besides a degrading attitude felt in the immigrants’ closer milieu, and besides their marginalized position in society at large – a discriminatory attitude can also be observed in the Slovenian State and its institutions, and/or in some public institutions. The answer was affirmative: most of the 249 interrogated immigrants have experienced or observed some sort of ethnic maltreatment in state offices or public institutions. On the basis of the questionnaire results presented in this article, two reliable conclusions confirming the findings of all the recent studies on the status of immigrants and their cultures in Slovenia can be established:
As long as the Slovenian State does not change its attitude towards the immigrants and their political, religious and cultural expectations, and as long as the immigrants are contemned at school, at work, in most places outside their homes, and driven to the edge of society in almost every aspect, it is paradoxical to speak about present implementation of any kind of integration of the immigrants in Slovenia, based upon the principle of equality.
As long as the image of the immigrants that prevails in Slovenian public perception remains as stereotypical, distorted and negative as it is, which is partly due to the mainstream media, the immigrants will feel unsafe or unwelcome not only to state their truly felt ethnicity in census forms but also to express their ethnic and cultural identity in everyday life.