The feeling of being caught between two cultures is one that an increasing number of people around the world now experience. There are a multitude of reasons why people find themselves in a new culture but the feelings are often similar for everyone living in such a situation.
As of the late 1980s, more and more people from the now ex-Yugoslavian countries left their home with the hope of finding work and safety. Thus, new communities where formed all over Europe. Part of this population settled down in Switzerland, more precisely in the canton of Lucerne. As a result, a community center which is now based in Emmenbrücke was created, the Bosnian-Muslim cultural center. The center is composed of a Mosque, a library, a restaurant and rooms for group activities such as folk dancing and women groups.
For my project, I used this community space to meet people and learn about their daily life. I wanted to discover how people from different generations are living with several cultural values, habits and traditions. Especially amongst teenagers born in Switzerland, there is a certain longing to discover and live their family’s Balkan heritage. This generation shows a mix between their parent’s culture and the Swiss one. They form a new identity which is taking the “best parts” of each culture, as I was often told. For the older generation, having lived in the ex-Yugoslavian countries, they know what they left behind, what habits and values they took with them and either continued to live in Switzerland, mixed them with Swiss traditions and values or lost the old in favor of new values and habits.
It is a complex situation that arises from this dual identification. It could be seen as a burden but at the same time also as a great chance to develop an understanding for differences and a range of cultural values.