Kevin Kenjar

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9281

Approve Date

April 18, 2016

Project Title

Kenjar, Kevin N., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Linguistic Landscapes and Ideological Horizons: Language and Ideology in Post-Yugoslav Space,' supervised by Dr. Charles L. Briggs

Preliminary abstract: My research will analyze how written language in public spaces in the former Yugoslavia, in the form of street signs, advertisements, and inscriptions on buildings and monuments forms ‘linguistic landscapes’ in which various groups struggle to have their voices represented in public space, thereby competing with others to make their languages visible. Importantly, these different languages were, until the 1990s, officially considered to be a single language: Serbo-Croatian. It was only in the 1990s, in the course of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and international efforts to establish peace in the region, that the dissolution of Serbo-Croatian into the languages of Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin became official. Often, though not always, each of these languages is considered to ‘belong’ to a particular ethnic group, making their representation in public space a particularly sensitive topic following the bloody battles for territory witnessed in the region. However, the languages are so remarkably similar that it is often difficult, and at times impossible, to tell one from the other when presented with only a bit of text, as is often the case in signs in public spaces. Thus, my project will explore how minute differences, such as of orthography, come to carry significant historical, cultural, and political meanings in the context of public representation, thus making an important contribution to linguistic anthropology, as well as to the study of nationalism, post-socialism, and the burgeoning study of linguistic landscapes.