55 / 2022
Ethan Larson

Open to the Public: Serbs and Ethnic Crossover in the United States

Diasporas are often imagined as impermeable communities. Yet the boundaries of the Serbian diaspora in the United States were surprisingly porous to certain outsiders, such as Ruth Mitchell, who routinely dressed as a Chetnik to address Serbian immigrants. Mitchell’s act of ethnic crossover, this paper argues, fits into a broader pattern of ethnic outsiders joining Serbian organizations in the United States. Four case studies besides Ruth Mitchell are discussed: Eleanor Calhoun, Johann Blose, Charles DeHarrack, and Frank Melford. Diplomats acted as gatekeepers to these Serbophiles, limiting access to emigrant social and political networks as they saw fit—but only rarely was the Serbophiles’ ethnic background a factor.
Keywords: Serbian Diaspora, Serbophilia, United States, Yugoslavia, Ruth Mitchell