Reclamation of Slovenian Identity by the Descendants of Slovenian Immigrants in the USA and Canada in the Context of the Global Trend of Individualization
In this article the author presents a phenomenon of individuals of Slovenian descent living in the United States and Canada, whose ethnic identity and connection with Slovenian ethnic community were either lost early in their lives, or were not even passed down to them by their ancestors, but were later (re)discovered. Life stories of individuals have been put into the context of the global trend of individualization and applied to this local case. The author examines what has motivated them to trace their roots, what this means to them today and how the discovery of Slovenian identity is reflected in their lives.
KEY WORDS: global trends, individualization, Slovenian descendants, ethnic identity, search of roots
THE RECLAMATION OF SLOVENIAN IDENTITY BY THE DESCENDANTS OF SLOVENIAN IMMIGRANTS IN THE USA AND CANADA IN THE CONTEXT OF THE GLOBAL TREND OF INDIVIDUALIZATION
Among modern global trends, individualization is considered to be one of the most important. It is closely connected with globalization and often interpreted as one of its key processes. The fact that the process of individualization is usually interpreted in connection with the declining importance of traditional social structures, detraditionalization and the liberation of the individual from the traditional culture is especially relevant to us. We are, however, interested in the opposite effect of this trend – what prompts individuals to trace and (re)discover their ethnic roots and, consequently, also to explore traditional culture and heritage. We present this phenomenon through an analysis of the life stories of nearly a dozen individuals. They differ greatly from one another, which makes them very suitable for scientific analysis. All of the stories have some common characteristics, and some telling exceptions. Everyone has their own reasons for tracing their roots. Most of the interviewees set out on their quest in their forties but three of them were just in their twenties. Almost all of them have become significantly involved with Slovenian ethnic organizations, whereas one interviewee is not interested in such involvement. Most of them have strong feelings of attachment to Slovenia and visit it often. However, one of the interviewees has never been to Slovenia and it did not seem that he would ever have a strong desire to do so. They all want their children or other family members and relatives to feel the same enthusiasm. Most of them are religious, but they do not link this with their ethnicity. They also share the belief that the Slovenian language is not that important for their Slovenian identity. Nevertheless, most of them still try to learn the language.