The aim of this chapter is to situate Bosnian post-refugee transnationalism in relation to post-Dayton Bosnia. The chapter focuses on Bosnian migrants who entered the Republic of Ireland in 1992 as programme refugees and who were, from the moment of their arrival, participants in a lengthy reception and resettlement programme. This programme was coordinated by the Irish government and its main objective was the long-term successful integration of Bosnian refugees in Ireland.
However, despite the fact that more than two decades have elapsed since their arrival, Bosnians do not feel part of Irish society (Halilovic-Pastuovic 2007). Yet rather than repatriating and moving permanently back to Bosnia, they have chosen to cross borders on an annual basis and divide their time between the two countries. They spend most of the year in Ireland, but during the summer months migrate to Bosnia with their families.
My overall research interrogates the specificities of Bosnian post-refugee migrations between Ireland and Bosnia. However, the focus of this chapter is on Bosnia only. I apply two theoretical lenses in my research – theories of transnationalism and Goldberg's (2002) racial state theory. As a result, I conceptualise Bosnian post-refugee transnationalism as being a grey zone of ‘potentiality’.
As this volume shows, the notion of a grey zone can be very useful in highlighting misleading dichotomies, everyday complexities and the sense of the ‘in between’ in Eastern Europe. The Bosnian migrants that this chapter describes have created such a zone for themselves by refusing to shape their existence in one state only. Instead, they cross borders that they are not meant to cross on a regular basis, often live parallel lives in both places, and have created a situation where notions of home and belonging are fluid and multifaceted.
In understanding transnationalism as grounded (Smith and Guarnizo 1998), this chapter explores the reasons behind the scarcity of Bosnian migrants permanently returning to post-Dayton Bosnia. It demonstrates that factors such as ethnic reification and the politicisation of nationalism, which characterise the divided society of post-Dayton Bosnia, contribute to Bosnian migrants choosing transnationalism over a permanent return.