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Croatia Leaves Transnationalism in the Dust

By John Overington


When I got out of my bed on the day that we arrived in Croatia, I glanced out my window expecting to see a boring seaport with industrial implements and to my surprise it was beautiful crystal blue water with bright sandstone cliffs.  Croatia provided the best preserved medieval sites that a traveler could ask for.  Somehow, Dubrovnik and other traditional Croatian cities have been able to avoid the ugly advertisements that accompany heavy transnational influence on an area.  I expected to see much more vernacular in the smaller islands that lie outside of the large population centers, but not in Dubrovnik, one of the bigger cities in this relatively small country.  The four million people that live in Croatia have been able to preserve the absolutely infectious vernacular elements of their culture.

    This lack of transnational influence may be partially a result of Croatia having been a member of the USSR in Yugoslavia, but it is astounding that so little transnational influence has leaked over the border from the imposing companies based in the United States.  There are the usual smaller scale influences of transnational actors, but I am impressed and surprised at such an absolute refusal by the Croatian cities of large advertisements and billboards.  There is another more sad and complex issue that surrounds the last three decades in Croatians' history that includes bloody losses and triumphs, which might be a reason that transnationalism has had such trouble taking hold in Croatia.  In Irena Plejic’s article “Fear, Death, and Resistance” she describes some of the different experiences that displaced peoples have suffered through as a result of the various conflicts between neighors in the Balkans between 1980 and 1995.  The reason that this article is worth mentioning is that Itrena Plejic learned that these men and women have been so preoccupied with keeping a roof over their head, they have not had time to embrace the powers of globalization that usually entail the prying hands of transnational groups.

    Some would say that there is heavy transnational influence in Dubrovnik because so much of the city is geared to tourism of people from other countries, but I would argue otherwise.  I would argue that the Croatians have used the tourism to keep their city in the immaculate condition that it exists in today.  The Croatians have been able to keep their unique vernacular relatively untainted from greedy transnational actors whose impact would change their landscape.  I wish that the United States had the fortitude to keep the corporate hands out of our development, and I envy the Croatians for their success.

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