Elusive Better Future: Identity Crisis Among Immigrants in Yesterday’s People


  • Maja Ćuk Alfa BK University, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Belgrade, Serbia




immigrants, diasporic literature, cultural identity, Yesterday’s People, Goran Simić, Stuart Hall


Reminiscences of the past and melancholic feelings have often been present in the literature of the diaspora, which illustrates the fact that the life of an immigrant has never been easy since s/he has to deal with many unfavourable circumstances. Immigrant identity cannot remain exactly the same after arrival in a new cultural milieu. Elements of the original identity may be lost or transformed into new forms. Old selves cannot be completely assimilated into the new cultural pattern. Apart from this, there are other obstacles, which are presented in a symbolic way in Goran Simić’s collection of short stories Yesterday’s People. This Canadian author of Serbian origin has compiled a dossier of Yugoslavian immigrants in Canada who left the country in the last decade of the twentieth century due to the horrors of the war in Bosnia. Since they emigrated in a tumultuous social climate when the foundations of the old cultural identity had been destabilized and called into question, they cannot deal in a productive way with a new phase of their life in the diaspora and find their purpose at the moment . Similarly, to his protagonists, Goran Simić was affected by the Bosnian conflict, but he has succeeded in reshaping himself in his new surroundings, reworking his memories in a creative way and integrating into Canadian literature as a writer. However, scarred and traumatized yesterday’s people in his stories cannot grapple successfully with the existential problems and their identity crises, and they are constantly wedged between the haunting past and the elusively better future. The aim of this paper is to discuss the possible problems at the “meeting point” between the discourses and practices which shaped immigrants’ identity in their native land and the processes which construct them as subjects in the present, by relying on Stuart Hall’s theoretical views in “Who needs an Identity”.


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How to Cite

Ćuk, Maja. 2020. “Elusive Better Future: Identity Crisis Among Immigrants in Yesterday’s People”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 15 (1):155-73. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v15i1.6.