A Letter to Noam Chomsky from a Bosnian Colleague

Dear Professor Chomsky, My name is Midhat Ridjanović. I am professor emeritus of English and linguistics at the University of Sarajevo. I came to the United States in the fall of 1966 on a Fulbright fellowship to do graduate work in linguistics at the University of Michigan and, in 1967, obtained a Master’s degree. Thanks to a Prize Scholarship from  []


To Milorad Pejić I get out of bed – the first step into a new day and the body is flooded with sorrow the very moment it touches the ground, it shakes and whimpers like a plane touching down on a sunny winter afternoon, when kissed by its own shadow. Translated from the Bosnian by Wayles Browne © 2011 Wayles  []

Courting (1899)

Courting, oh that courting! Is there anything more ideal and pleasant than courting? Those times when a man in his adolescence would sacrifice days and nights for a single look of his beloved, the times when he did not have any other wish but to see the queen of his heart or hear her sweet words, can never be forgotten.  []

The Survival of the Century of Ideologies (Antun Hangi)

The creation of a new social order and the establishment of different social relations brought through the arrival of the Turks in Bosnia resulted in the symbiosis of the pre-established and the imported cultures and influences. This process of symbiosis was facilitated due to two reasons: First, the government did not strive to destroy the situation they encountered and, second,  []

To Be (or Not To Be) a Student under Siege

From April 1992 to the end of 1995, at the University of Sarajevo, there was no scoring, no grade percentages, no Bologna Process evaluations, no debating, no PowerPoint presentations, and no URL references in bibliographies. During the war, we used pens and old notebooks. An old typewriter and an improvised wick lantern were indispensable for writing term papers and essays.  []

Perceptions of Serbia’s Elite in Relation to the Dayton Agreement

Introduction Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the central focus of the Serbian national project, not merely during the 1990s, but throughout the twentieth century. Serbia’s aspirations in BiH since the 1990s’ wars have remained consistent, and include the phased assimilation of Republika Srpska (RS). A section of the Serbian elite takes the firm position that “there is today no more  []

Contemporary American Poetry

I’ve been wondering how woefully few junkies and alcoholics there are amidst NPR’s contemporary American poets, even how few just plain smokers, and how woefully many non-smokers, vegetarians, globetrotters, and environmental activists. How many poetry magazine editors and non-profit publishers there are among all those award-winning authors of suburban and collegetown opuses, multiply divorced and remarried ex-hippies with paid-off mortgages  []

Pioneer Oath Today

Today, when I am initiated as a pioneer I state on the pioneer’s oath the following: That I shall learn and work hard and be a good friend; That I shall love our self-governed homeland, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; That I shall contribute to brotherhood and unity and the ideas Tito fought for; That I shall respect all  []

Remembering Sarajevo

The following are three “entries” from An Occasional Diary of Love and War, which the author has planned and partly written and which spans some fifty years of his life in Bosnia – from his early childhood in pre-World War II Sarajevo to the present time. Midhat Ridjanović is a professor emeritus of English and linguistics at University of Sarajevo;  []

Excerpts from the Novel “Spies”

I arrived on the agreed day. I spent two nights at the local inn, met several respected gentlemen, and, in fact, they deigned ask me for my name, origin, and reason for coming. I persuaded them to believe in the veracity of the prepared information. At first sight, everything here seems peaceful, or perhaps, I still haven’t managed to sharpen  []

On Stereotypes and Bosnia

In modern times where the world is bombarded by media and other peoples’ perceptions of reality, stereotypes are the tools for processing experience and human communication. We costume and dress up our perceptions communicating through simplified schemes for decoding the significances of the notions in the world that surround us. The mind performs operations to simplify the reality by framing  []

Ruždi-pasha and the Jews of Sarajevo

A certain Jew of Sarajevo by the name of Moshe Havijo converted to Islam in Travnik, and through trickery insinuated himself into an order of dervishes and received the name Dervish Ahmed. To the untaught Muslim masses he passed himself off as a miracle-worker, infused with divine inspiration, and the people believed in him. Probably this false Dervish Ahmed made  []

Katarina’s Story

D.O.M. Catherine Reginae Bosnensi Stephani Ducis San (c) ti Sabbae Sorori, Et genere Helene et Domo Principis Stephani natae, Tomae Regis Bosnae Uxori. Quantum vixit annorum LIIII Et odbormivit Romae Anno Domini Et odbormivit Romae Anno Domini MCCCCLXXVIII DIE XXV Octobris Monumentum ipsius scriptis positum.  This was inscribed upon my tomb, but what you don’t know is how I arrived here in the  []

The Life of Katarina Vukčić Kosača, the Bosnian Queen (1424-1478)

In the history of medieval Bosnia, only a few women have left such a prominent mark as Katarina Vukčić Kosača, who is one of the most compelling among them. Her life story illuminates the history of the Bosnian Kingdom in its last few decades to such a remarkable extent that it is no wonder that all those describing the 15th-century  []

Legends about Queen Katarina

By assembling the folk traditions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the historian Vlajko Palavestra noticed that the memories of events and individuals from medieval Bosnia live even to this day. This fact especially applies to stories about Queen Katarina, which one can still hear among elderly people living in the vicinity of Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kreševo, Fojnica, Olovo, and other places in  []

On the Political Significance of Ratko Mladić’s Rhetoric

General Ratko Mladić, commander-in-chief of the Bosnian Serb Army, entered Srebrenica on July 11, moments behind the first Serb soldiers, accompanied by a television crew. “We present this city to the Serbian people as a gift,” Mladić said, speaking to the camera. “Finally, after the rebellion of the Dahis, the time has come to take revenge on the Turks in  []

The Rose in a Storm, Zlatko Ugljen

“O rose, pure contradiction…“, Rilke Zlatko Ugljen, a professor, threefold academic, master artist in our modern times, and creator of unfaltering architecture is turning eighty. Zlatko was born in the city of Mostar, to which he donated his most beautiful buildings, artistic pious endowments now leveled to the ground. Today oblivion is flourishing in our devastated cities, and its ugly,  []

Excerpts from the Novel “Spies”

My lord, the land named Bosnia is an unfortunate land, not worth conquering, even less worth keeping, but still tolerable as a friendly land. In this way, it would pose no nuisance to us, and we could at least use it as a safe stop en route to other lands. It is not a kingdom in the way we understand  []

An Immigrant’s Deal: Two Lives for the Price of One

When you become an immigrant, you have lost or are in the process of losing much: you loseWeight Exercise your country, your language, your culture, your friends. But you also gain much: a new country, new knowledge, new experience, and perhaps new friends. The tension between the loss and the gain—or the debit and the credit side of your life’s  []

The Sirens

Come, renowned man Of great Achaean fame Come Does your great heart That turned to stone in Troy Does your hardened heart This song fear Come renowned man   Translated by Keith Doubt – © 2011 Keith Doubt