Gender, Generation and National Identity of Czech émigrés in Denmark
University of Copenhagen, Institute of Anthropology
Specialeafhandling til Kandidateksamen, June 2004
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0.1 The field
0.2 The research question
0.3 Methodological discussion
0.4 Phenomenology and my position in the field
- Ethical considerations
0.5 Theoretical framework
- Migration and Migrancy
- Identity and identification
- Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
0.6 Content of the thesis
1. Background - Czech Migration to Denmark
1.1 Brief historical overview
1.2 Czech emigration
- The marriage market
1.4 The 60s generation
1.5 The 90s generation
- Return migration
1.6 The 60s versus the 90s generation
2. National Identity
2.1 "Czech or Danish?"
2.2 A parallel group?
2.3 Danish function and Czech emotion
- Danish function
- Czech emotion
2.4 Identity is context dependent and time-delayed
2.5 Summary of Chapter Two
3. Central Europe
3.1 Central Europe - "The area of apple strudel"
- Central Europeans in Eastern Europe?
3.2 The Image of Eastern Europe
- The Beautiful Czech Lands
3.3 Becoming East European in Denmark
3.4 Summary of Chapter Three
4.1 Gender in the context of migration
4.2 "East European women?"
4.3 The development of gender perception in Czechoslovakia
4.4 Czech women in Denmark in the 60s
4.5 Gender relations in the 90s
- The role of a woman - Femininity versus Feminism
- The gender adaptation
- The initial barriers between Danish and Czech émigré women
- Men with prams
- The Danish job market and acceptance of Czech education
4.6 Summary of Chapter Four
5. Generational Identity - Narratives of the Two Generations
5.1 The 60s generation life histories
- Denial of access to education
- Narratives of family persecution
5.2 The 90s generation
- The fragments of memories about socialism
- A "muted" group?
- Dominant narratives of Babinec network
5.3 Summary of Chapter Five
Kurt Gebauer from the catalogue Pictures from the history of a personal state. Edited by Libuše Gebauerová. Praha 1995. Digital version downloaded 28.5.2004 from www.kurtgebauer.webzdarma.cz Reproduced with the author's permission
First, my thanks go to all the Czech émigrés in Denmark and those living in the Czech Republic, who despite their busy schedules found time for my interviews and were open to tell me about their life. Thanks to all those that I met at various occasions during the last three years and who helped me on my way - shared their lives, memories, materials and contacts to their friends as well family members with me.
Thanks to members of Dansk - Tjekkisk Forening and Babinec for giving me the opportunity to conduct participant observation among them. Special thanks to the former Czech consul in Denmark for her helpfulness as well as fruitful discussions.
My special thanks go to the Institute of Anthropology for accepting me as a student and to my supervisor Finn Sivert Nielsen for his patient and numerous comments that were indispensable especially in the early phases of planning my research.
Thanks to Anita, Benedikte and Mette - my "writing group" for their response and encouragement.
Finally my thanks go to my boyfriend, without whom I would not be able to fulfil my dream and study social anthropology. Thanks for his proof-reading and assistance with the graphs. Thanks to my family for their understanding and moral support as well as generous financial support of my previous studies.
The main focus of the thesis is identity and the compound processes of identification and differentiation among Czech émigrés. The target group of my research were Czech émigrés who came to Denmark during the 1960s and 1990s as well as re-emigrants to the Czech Republic. The thesis is based on six months of multi-sited field research that I conducted during the second half of the year 2001 primarily in Copenhagen and surroundings and in Prague and the northern part of Bohemia. The six-month fieldwork was supplemented by a long term contact with the field during the period 2000 - 2003. The general goal of the project was to map the migratory patterns of Czech émigrés, collect their life histories and identify the strategies they develop when dealing with the reality of emigration.
The Czech Republic is a Central European country that during the 1990s was going through a period of transition from socialism and a process of preparations for accession to the European Union, in which it gained membership in May 2004. The transitional period of the 1990s was in the Czech Lands(1) characterized by rapid economic development and political changes, as well as social stratification and re-definition of national identity after a peaceful division of Czechoslovakia in January 1993. The opening of the hitherto closed borders, the existing economic gap, as well as curiosity and apprehension of proximity led to an increase in gender-specific migration to and from the country. Western businessmen as well as young "expatriates" stormed to Prague, while young Czechs were encouraged to travel and learn the western culture. In my thesis I will look at two specific parts of the migration stream - 1) the young Czech women who in their search for western ideals and/or economic safety for their family married Danish men and migrated to Denmark and 2) the "emigrants," that left Czechoslovakia during the period of socialism, who despite the possibility of return chose to stay in Denmark, that in the meantime became their new "homeland"(2).
Before setting out for fieldwork I anticipated that a substantial number of émigrés who in the 1960s escaped to Denmark for political reasons, had after the 1989 returned to the Czech Republic. During my research I learned that despite the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, most of the Czech émigrés in Denmark did not gain the status of political refugees. Nor, contrary to my expectations, was the period of transition connected with a return of émigrés from Denmark to the Czech Republic. Instead, in the early 1990s Czech émigrés together with Danish supporters of Charta 77 founded the first organisation of Czech émigrés in Denmark, which is today called Dansk-Tjekkisk Forening (Danish-Czech Association). The presumed tendency to re-emigrate appeared, instead, among young Czech wives who had followed their husbands to Denmark, and who at the end of the 1990s formed an informal network they called Babinec(3).
The main focus of my analysis is identity and relevant aspects of identification of the two waves of Czech migrants to Denmark and re-emigrants to the Czech Republic, regardless of which of the two countries they live in and in which of them they were interviewed. I understand identity as "a multiple, shifting, and often self-contradictory" concept, "made up of heterogeneous and heteronomous representations of gender, race and class [...] often indeed across languages and cultures" (De Lauretis 1986:9 quoted in Moore 1994:57).
Inspired by Henrietta L. Moore, I ask: What dimensions or discourses of identification are relevant to Czech émigrés in Denmark and re-emigrants to the Czech Republic? How do these dimensions and their impact differ among the two waves of émigrés? I will analyse national, regional/supranational, gender and generational identities of Czech émigrés in Denmark and examine the role these identifications play in the formation of the two groups - Babinec and the Danish-Czech Association (DCA).
On a more theoretical level I hope to make a contribution to the ongoing debate on How does migration affect identity? that occupied anthropologists of migration (Camino and Krulfeld 1994, Rouse 1995, Takenaka 1999, Werbner 1999). What happens with national, regional/supranational, gender and generational dimensions of identity in the context of migration? I will show how the maintenance of identity generates processes of comparison among Czech émigrés between both Danish and Czech reality as well as towards other Czech émigrés in terms of difference and similarity. Finally, I will seek to specify what influence the country of origin and the surrounding Danish society have on émigré identities.
Anthropology has traditionally studied exotic cultures, and although recent developments (since the 1970s) proceed towards doing fieldwork "at home," i.e. in the anthropologist's own country, the anthropologist still tends to be "an outsider" in the field of inquiry (Strathern 1987).
Rather than stating that I conducted anthropological fieldwork "at home," I prefer to use the term auto-anthropology defined as "anthropology carried out in the social context which produced it" (Strathern 1987:17). An inspiration for me has been a project conducted by Czech sociologists associated in a group called "SAMISEBE" (meaning: we (study) ourselves) who observed and interpreted their personal experience of the transformation of the Czech Republic using qualitative autobiographical methods (Konopásek 2000).
During the spring semester of 2001, while writing the synopsis for my fieldwork, I participated in a number of events attended by Czech émigrés in Denmark (receptions at the Czech Embassy in Copenhagen, St. Nicholas party, course on how to make dumplings and a forest outing with bonfire barbecue organised by DCA, a number of Babinec meetings and private parties) and conducted participant observation as well as the first informal interviews with my informants. Such events proved to be my best opportunity to meet and get to know my informants, who often introduced me to or became connecting links to others. It has been an advantage to cover the events organized by DCA during a whole calendar year, since they more or less repeat themselves every year and to some extent follow the Czech calendar (e.g. events such as St. Nicholas Party or Easter egg painting). The basic instruments of my research were life history oriented interviews, focus group interviews, participant observation and my own experience. The interviews are a crucial part of the collected data due to the rather dispersed character of the field. I conducted and tape-recorded interviews with 19 informants. In Denmark I often started with an informal meeting which was not taped and only later arranged a more formal interview with my informants. I kept contact with most informants for at least one year. In the Czech Republic I did not have this opportunity and therefore recorded the interviews during my first visit. The fieldwork was multi-sited not only because it was conducted in two countries, but mainly because the Czech émigrés do not cluster at specific geographic locations - they live and work spread among the Danish (and Czech) population. There has been no language barrier. I conducted the interviews in my mother tongue and Danish was a second language of research, which I myself mastered during the fieldwork.
Towards the end of my fieldwork, I arranged a focus group in order to generate data on beliefs, attitudes and opinions among the Czech émigrés of both the 60s and 90s generation on topics I had found particularly interesting during my research. The knowledge of Danish turned out to be essential for my understanding of the context of the DCA. The rather long period during which I conducted participant observation was caused by the fact that all the meetings of Babinec and DCA are weekend activities. My opportunities for participant observation were thus limited by the number of weekends during the fieldwork period. There is no place where the émigrés meet and where I could go and "hang out." In everyday life the studied group functions within the framework defined by the surrounding Danish society. One might almost say - at least about the émigrés from the 60s - that they practice their Czech identity only as "a hobby" in their free time. The structure of life in a contemporary modern society imposes restrictions on conducting participant observation in diverse spheres (private, at work, at the language school, when dealing with the relevant state institutions etc.) of the informants' lives. The limited possibilities for applying the method mean that most of the data I have gathered comes from the émigrés' meetings that I could easily join. Mostly I did not follow my informants as they individually interacted with Danish society. Here I can only use my own experience. I explain this closer in the next paragraph.
My approach to the field was inspired by the phenomenological school of philosophy,(4) which "calls into question the longstanding division in Western discourse between the knowledge of philosophers or scientists and the opinions of ordinary mortals" (Jackson 1996:7 building on Feyerabend). My position as both scientist and ordinary mortal, implied a "shift from standing outside or above to situat[ing] [my]self [...] within the field of inquiry" (Jackson 1996:9). The core of phenomenological investigation lies in consciously capturing consciousness itself, using a method based on "distancing" and "non-judgement," that is rather difficult to accomplish (Husserl explained in Sokol 1995). Contrary to "external perception" (which is in my case participant observation), the phenomenological epoché allowed me to directly access the "transcendent reality" of the "experience itself" (Ibid). I was using an introspective perception, in order to capture my emotional consciousness of identity. This in practice meant, that I was able to reflect on my emotional experience of identity and in retrospective analyse what evoked my emotions. These reflections 1) directly generated data (see e.g. section "Becoming East European") and 2) produced insight into the life-world of my informants that influenced my analytical focus. In the next paragraph I further reflect upon the position-dependent character of my research.
I was seen by my informants as "a wife of a Dane." This gave me, perhaps not surprisingly, a status they could relate to and that especially in the eyes of the young women weighs more than the status of a university student. Being a student at a Danish university opened other doors to me - especially in my contact with the 60s generation émigrés in the Czech Republic. That was an important detail - for them a Danish university was a credible institution they could relate to. My gender identity meant easier contact with women, while it was more complicated to interview men. The younger women regarded me as one of their own and the older women could relate to me as "themselves 20-30 years ago when they came to Denmark." It has proved difficult to conduct interviews with men, not only because men are not present at all in the Babinec group. Since the interview situation is a rather private one, it has at times given rise to both caution on the part of male informants (and possible jealousy from their wives), as well as to an illusion of my personal interest.
I am aware that my position as a female, student and Czech interviewer to a certain extent influenced the generated data and narratives. My informants, for example, emphasised the Czech aspects of their identity (rather than the Danish ones) and employed a Czech discourse. Their narratives also often centred on education, perhaps as a result of the fact that I was a university student. My resistance to the exposure of an ascribed East European identity, which is in the Czech context identical with Russia (see chapter three), might have been undermined by the fact that my paternal grandfather was a Russian, who was adopted to Czechoslovakia as a child. The exactness of my emotional experience of supranational/regional identity as a Czech citizen based on insight and introspective perception in the phenomenological sense might therefore not be representative. My personal experience of regional/supranational identity was to a larger extent squeezed between the Czech and Danish discourses.
The greater insight and reflexivity inherent in my analytical position is counterweighted with a potential "blindness." My perspective allowed me to attain an analytical distance from the "little Czech" émigrés as individuals, but not from the abstract image of "the big Czech nation" I myself share (Holý 1996). Although I realise that in my analysis I might tend to present Czech émigrés in a positive way or take up a defending point of view on their behalf, I perceive this to be an implicit side effect of personal contact with informants during an anthropological fieldwork. Since "anthropological processing of "knowledge" draws on concepts which also belong to the society and culture under study," (Strathern 1987:18). I am aware that the insider view I submit is different from the picture a Danish anthropologist would present. In this context I understand my discussion regarding Central European identity (see chapter three), as similar to that of an anthropologist concerned with e.g. minority rights or ecological issues he/she encounters during the fieldwork. I am convinced that the possibly negative influences of my position were outweighed by my direct access to the field.
During the process of conducting fieldwork and writing the thesis I experienced a certain conflict between being a researcher, friend and émigré at the same time. I was - willingly or unwillingly - collecting data virtually all the time, although my informants were aware of that only during the interview situation, when I was tape recording our conversation. In my thesis I therefore build mostly - apart from my own experience that I paid attention to in the previous paragraph - on data generated during the interviews. Although I use aliases for my informants' names, I realise that the relative small size of the studied group makes it impossible to keep the individual anonymous. Since a number of the recorded life stories have a testimonial status (see chapter five) I do not see it as a problem that it might be possible to trace an individual's life story.
Migration and Migrancy
Migration as a contemporary object of anthropology could be defined as the study of "geographical mobility of people." The etymological meaning of the word "migration" stresses the "spatial movement" (Jørgensen 1993:47). Migration was traditionally studied as a one-way movement from the economically less developed areas to more fortunate places in the world, but some authors also paid attention to the counter-current of return migration (e.g. Gmelch 1980). After ratification of the Geneva Convention in 1921 and in 1951, the stream of migrants was enriched by the new category of political and humanitarian refugees. Recently, anthropologists have paid attention to the continuous process of migrancy, i.e. "the never ending commution of migrants between their place of origin and the destination of their migration" (Mayer quoted in Schierup and Ålund 1987). According to Mayer, migrancy is not solely characterised by oscillation between the two places, but also by participation in social processes and maintenance of social networks in both the "sending" and "receiving" country (Ibid.). Given the geographical proximity of Denmark and the Czech Lands as well as the political context of the enlargement of the EU and thus the possibility of frequent visits, the contemporary situation of Czech émigrés in Denmark can best be characterised by the concept of "migrancy." I understand migrancy as an option, which a majority of the 60s generation émigrés to Denmark only gradually gained during the 1980s. The Czech émigrés who left for Denmark in the 1960s had for the most part only limited possibilities of contact with their families and were thus more likely to be exposed to the process of migration (see Chapter one).
Identity and identification
According to the Encyclopaedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, identity refers to "qualities of sameness, in that persons may associate themselves, or be associated by others, with groups or categories on the basis of some salient common feature, e.g. ethnic identity" (Barnard and Spencer 1996). The term at the same time designates the "unique identity of an individual [...] which is located deep in the unconscious as a durable and persistent sense of sameness of the self [despite] a traumatic experience [or] passage from one stage of life to another" (Ibid 1996).
Before I turn to my definition of identity let me start with a paraphrase of Augustin's description of time: "When nobody asks me I know well what time is, when somebody asks I do not know what to say" (Augustin quoted in Sokol 1994:23). The constant fluidity, situationality and elusiveness make identity a phenomenon similar to time. When nobody asks I do not know what identity is. Identity first comes into view when it is either at stake or in contrast with the Other. This is precisely what happens with identity in the context of migration. In his essay on identity Zygmunt Bauman employs the metaphor of the owl of Minerva that spreads wings of knowledge "by the end of the day when the Sun has set and things are no more brightly lit and easily found and handled" (Bauman 2001:121). He reminds us that "one does not see what is all too visible; one does not see what is always there. Things are noticed when they disappear or go to bust" (Bauman 2001:121). It is not surprising that identity becomes more visible when exposed to the challenge of migration - an ambivalent and quickly changing situation similar to the dusk. Weighted down by a threat of loss and a potential of gain, the very situation of migration provides a perfect "laboratory" for identity studies. Bauman notices that identity has to be actively reproduced through the act or task of identification. The process of identification is at the same time a kind of "rear projection." It is a context-dependent and time-delayed process, where a move in time and space generates a shift of context in terms of "set[s] of relations and [...] mode[s] of consciousness" (Comaroff and Comaroff in Eriksen 1993:157).
The ascribed and self-ascribed aspects of identity are in the case of the émigrés very likely to differ. Rather than interacting and influencing each other, the dominating ascribed identity tends to affect and consequently stigmatise the self-ascribed identity.
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Bauman further points out that identity is a "surrogate of community" (Bauman 2001:128). Identity is thus in the first place a substitute for the cosy closed community that Gellner defines as Gemeinschaft (Gellner 1998a:74). But since the "internally mobile but externally closed society" he denotes as Gesellschaft is simulating this cosy community, the émigrés identity becomes also affected by the Gemeinschaft-simulating society (Gellner 1998a:74).
While the Czech society in the 1990s to some extent still existed as a traditional status-oriented community, the Danish society had become a more identity-driven culture, where "men and women look for groups to which they can belong, certainly and forever, in a world in which all else is moving and shifting, in which nothing else is certain" (Hobsbawm in Bauman 2001:128).
In chapter one I discuss the history of migration from the Czech Lands in the second half of the 20th century and its connection with the political, economic and demographic development in the sending country. I focus on two migration waves that reached Denmark. I discuss the influence the liberal atmosphere, the apprehension of proximity and economic prosperity had on the 60s and 90s migration. I connect the latter with the effect of demographic development on the marriage market. I present two stories characterising the 60s and 90s generation.
In chapter two I analyse the émigrés' national identity. My approach builds on the concepts of Czech Gemeinschaft and Danish Gesellschaft that manifest themselves in the émigrés narratives as Czech emotions and Danish function. I introduce a concept of national time that permeates the everyday life of the émigrés and is carried by them across the national borders.
In chapter three I discuss the contemporary meanings of the concepts Central and Eastern Europe in academic as well as popular understanding. I pay attention to Danish images of Eastern Europe and the stigmatising effect they have on the émigrés' self-perception.
In chapter four I discuss the development of gender perception in Czechoslovakia and its influence on the situation of Czech émigré women in Denmark in the 1960s and 1990s. I focus on gender-internal differences (i.e. Czech women versus Danish women and Czech men versus Danish men) and differences within the Czech and Danish discourse of gender identity.
In chapter five I compare the life histories and dominant narratives of the two generations of Czech émigrés. Despite recounting their persecution, the 60s generation of émigrés in their victim/hero stories employs a Central European satiric emplotment. The thematic narratives of the 90s generation about health and education systems, that are based on a muted gender discourse, on the other hand witness the proceeding process of their cultural adaptation.
The Czech Lands were for four centuries part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when Czechoslovakia was established. The period 1918 -1938, also called the First Republic, was the only democratic era until 1989. After the Second World War, during which the Czech Lands were occupied by expanding Germany, Czechoslovakia became incorporated into the Soviet sphere of influence. Following the Communist coup in 1948 the new regime embarked on collectivisation of farms and liquidation of private enterprise and caused a first wave of emigration.(5) Political trials(6) lead by "advisors" from the USSR followed.
The end of Stalin's cult in 1956 crucially contributed to the thaw (détente) that in the 60s brought significant changes in people's lives: the ideological barriers relaxed, academic and research centres worked on economic reform, Czech culture experienced a golden age and young people travelled to other European countries. In 1968 the communist party adopted a new policy aiming at reforming the political system and democratising society - also called "the Prague Spring." At this point the USSR began to fear for the integrity of its empire and in August 1968 the armed forces of the USSR together with four other Warsaw pact countries occupied Czechoslovakia. The initial civil resistance was transformed during the years 1968-70 into waves of mass emigration. As a response the borders of Czechoslovakia were hermetically closed and the party implemented a policy of "normalisation." The 70s was "the period of the elimination of all traces of the politically more liberal sixties in all aspects of life, the return from "experimental" socialism to a "normal" socialism" (Konopásek 2000:300). All communists were subjected to screenings(7) and half a million former members left the party. Gustáv Husák's(8) offer to his people was: "Forget the past and your rights in return for food [flats, and other material goods] and a quiet life" (Kaplan and Nosarzewska 1997:334). The limited possibility for self-realisation resulted in withdrawal into the private sphere (so called inner emigration). Gorbachev's "Perestrojka" in the Soviet Union had a decisive influence on the future of the region. The brutal repression of a student demonstration that took place in Prague in November 1989 started the "Velvet Revolution." A group of dissidents and signatories of the Charta 77 declaration demanding maintaining of human rights played a crucial role during the 1989 events. A new government was formed and on 29 December 1989 the transformed Parliament elected the former dissident Václav Havel the president of Czechoslovakia.
A period of transition from socialism and state control towards democracy and free market economy followed. As the generation from Husák's baby boom was growing up, the 90s brought a possibility for the individuals' self-realisation such as travelling, studying or starting a private business, but also a housing shortage and a press on places at the universities that affected the large wave of young people who were in fact competing with each other.
As a result of Slovakian aspirations Czechoslovakia on the 1'st of January 1993 disappeared from the map, creating space for two independent countries: Slovakia and The Czech Republic. Together with nine other candidate countries the Czech Republic became a member of the EU in May 2004.
The history of Czech emigration generally operates with two waves of political migration during the period of socialism: 1) After the communist coup in 1948 and 2) after the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. These waves were complemented by a less apparent but continuous flow of émigrés.
According to data from the Czech statistical office, the legal emigration from Czechoslovakia was growing gradually already during the second half of the 1960s and peaked already in 1967 (see Appendix, Graph 3). After a decline in 1968 - 69 came a second slightly lower peak in 1970. However, both historical sources (Čornej and Pokorný 2000:77) and my informants' records agree, that most Czechs left Czechoslovakia during the period 1968-70. The discrepancy between the statistical data and other sources is caused by the fact that only the proportionally minor legal migration was registered. The émigrés who left around 1968 and 1969 were illegal emigrants who do not figure in the statistics. The statistical data on the other hand confirm a tendency I recorded during fieldwork: The 68 emigration wave was a peak of a trend that started in the mid-60s thanks to the liberal atmosphere in Western Europe and Czechoslovakia.
The first post-1948 wave of migration did not significantly reach Denmark. During my fieldwork I encountered migrants that came with the second of the described waves (the sixty-eighters), together with a number of Czech émigrés who left the country during the détente of the 60s. They constitute the 60s generation in my analysis. The other wave that I describe (the 90s generation) is a gender-specific wave of migration of the transitional period, that has so far passed unnoticed by Czech social scientists.(9)
The Danish statistics about Czech émigrés show two generations: The largest age group is the 50 - 60 years old émigrés and the second largest the women between 20 and 34 years (in the reproductive age) (see Appendix, Graphs 4 and 5). The total number of the Czech émigrés based on the Danish statistics for the year 2002 is around 1100. The Czech Embassy estimates that there are a maximum of 1500 Czech émigrés in Denmark. These numbers also show that in Denmark the group studied is a small and rather insignificant one. I have designed my study from the point of view of the Czech Republic, i.e. the sending country, which both the 60s and the 90s generation of émigrés had left, bound for various receiving countries.
The two generations of Czech émigrés as I describe them in my thesis were both influenced by the 68 Warsaw Pact occupation of Czechoslovakia and the following politics. In case of the older generation the connection is more obvious - it was the reason why they emigrated. In case of the younger generation who was born in the so-called "Husák baby boom" in the middle of the 70s this claim needs a closer explanation that I give in the next paragraphs.
The population pyramids of both countries (see Appendix, Graph 1 and 2) show the age distribution of the population in Denmark and the Czech Republic. While the Danish population pyramid is rather even, the age distribution in the Czech population bears more signs of deformation caused by the state pro-natal policy. Both countries experienced a baby boom during the Second World War(10) that continued in "the post-war compensating waves of natality" (Večerník 1998:93). In both cases this baby boom repeated itself approximately a generation later: in Denmark during the economically prosperous 60s and in Czechoslovakia during the 70s. The pro-natal politics of the Czechoslovakian state (that prolonged maternity leave and raised maternity allowances), together with the Soviet occupation of the country meant that during the years 1974-79 there were born about 200 000 (or 30) more children than average (Večerník 1998:94).
It is interesting to notice that both waves of Czech emigration occurred approximately 20 years after a baby boom and thus coincide with the growing up of the large generations that are "squeezed" in various spheres (number of places at schools, universities, when looking at the same time for partner, job or accommodation) through their life. It happened also in both cases at times of "opening up" of the Czech borders. In the next paragraph I will pay attention to one of these spheres.
The marriage market
When the children born in a population wave grow up, they face a "marriage squeeze" due to the fact that girls usually marry an older partner. First there are not enough older men, and later there are not enough younger women. In such a situation the girls can either marry older men than they otherwise would prefer, or wait and later choose their husband among the younger men. Since during the socialistic period it was normal for both men and women to marry in their early 20s, the generation born during the Husák baby boom had in fact only the second possibility on the "Czech marriage market" (Večerník 1998). But the 1989 revolution changed that marriage prospect. The transition of the society in the 90s and opening towards the world brought a solution - to marry a foreigner. I have already mentioned that the Danish population went through a baby boom during the 60s. Since the average marriage age of west Europeans is higher (Večerník 1998:98) and at the same time many Danes live as singles, the men born during the 60s in Denmark (and especially from the end of the Danish baby boom when there were not enough women) can from the demographical point of view become partners for the Czech women.
Although the 90s generation of Czech émigrés in Denmark does not completely correspond with the 70s baby boom, a substantial number of the Babinec members were born at that time. The statistics of foreign migration witness that the tendency of the Czech women to marry foreigners (including Danes) existed continually since the 50s (Srb 2001). The statistics also show a tendency of women marrying a step towards west: While Czech women marry Germans and other West Europeans, women from Slovakia and Ukraine get married to men from the Czech Republic (see Appendix, Graph 6) (ČSU 2001). While Danish men often marry women from "Eastern Europe" and Thailand, Danish women tend to marry other Europeans and Americans, together with a number of various countries (Nielsen 2003).
During the 60s, Denmark went through a wave of industrialisation - in 1963 Denmark's industrial export surpassed agricultural (Kjersgaard 1983:85). The expansion of the welfare system required new institutions. Danish women entered the job market and started fighting for equal rights and opportunities. At the end of the 60s Danish university students engaged in a wave of protests (ungdomsoprør) that had profound influence on the society. The economic boom ended with the oil crisis, increasing unemployment and consequent restrictions on migration of workers at the beginning of the 70s.
The first wave of migration of Czechs to Denmark occurred in the late 60s and was a result of a combination of several factors. The young people living in Czechoslovakia - a state which was building a socialism with a human face - were in the late 60s freely travelling to western countries and also to Denmark. Western Europe generally was going through a stable period of prosperity and economical growth and needed more workers. When the Soviet troops in August 1968 invaded Czechoslovakia, many Czech citizens were on vacation or working abroad. In this uncertain situation some asked for permission to stay and work where they were, while others returned to their families. Many others started leaving Czechoslovakia and asking for asylum. Some 500 Czechs came to Denmark where they were received with sympathy. In an interview Rùena Singer introduced me to the situation of Czechs seeking a refuge in Denmark:
In 68 immediately after August (sigh) a number of Czech refugees came in a few waves - immediately after August, during the autumn, and then during 69 when the situation in Czechoslovakia got tightened. So the last ones came at the beginning of the 70s. ... About 500 Czechs came to Denmark. At that time about one third of them left and went further, i.e. either to Australia, to the States or Canada or where they went. And a part of them have returned to Czechoslovakia. I do not think that we can operate with an exact number, but about 25 people returned to Czechoslovakia during the year 69.
So if we talk about the Czech refugee issue - one has to operate with the politics towards foreigners as it was then, and place it within the frameworks as they were at that time. And at that time it was in fact humanitarian help to refugees - the same as in the case of Hungary in 56. In the same way Denmark opened its borders and accepted the Czech refugees, but political asylum, or the question of political asylum had been dealt with according to different statuses than today. And it is true that they were very few, most of them received normal refugee status, which did not mean political asylum, but simply humanitarian residence here in Denmark and immediate permission to work, i.e. the group that came at that time - most of them quickly joined the job market, but of course it was not a job market adequate to their abilities and education, but places where there were vacancies.
...at the beginning of the 70s ... when the wave of those 4000 Polish refugees, the Jews from Poland came, it was often older refugees who were at the concentration camps, and the whole Danish refugee question had to be transformed - clothing, working clothes, evening courses .. and a certain envy appeared among those who came earlier and those who came later and suddenly had more possibilities - health care, and Danish language courses during the day...those who had started an education could get up to three years support from Dansk Flygtningehjælp - rehabilitation in order to finish their studies - among those there were also a number of young Czechs who came at the beginning of the 70s.
Those (whom I knew) who came in 68 and 69, they all went directly to work ... and many workplaces at that time paid the wages weekly... so a budget was made ...income and expenses ... and suddenly they were independent.... One can say that Czech refugees from that time found their own way, really on their own. In my opinion it is the best to do so, when the job market gives such possibility, and not the process of long-term integration.
Due to the Cold War the older generation of Czech émigrés went through a variously long period when they were banned from visiting their country of origin. Paragraph 95 of Czechoslovakian law from 12 July 1950 for leaving the Republic stipulates that:
"Any person who leaves the territory of Czechoslovakia without a permission, will be punished with one to five years of imprisonment. The citizenship of the person can be removed. The possibility of suspended sentence is excluded (Menzel 1969).
One of my informants, who actively supported the political opposition and Charta 77, had not been to Czechoslovakia for 23 years. However, the majority of Czech émigrés who came to Denmark at the end of 60s was usually able to visit Czechoslovakia since the beginning of the 1980s. Václav and Anna told me about the circumstances of the change in visiting policy:
Václav Baum - ... we started travelling to Czechoslovakia around 1980 when we received Danish citizenship and when (the situation) calmed down (after around 12 years)... now we go there about twice a year.
Lenka - And you did not get to Czechoslovakia at all or...?
Anna Rasmussen - Not before 1981. That was due to the deténte from the Czechoslovakian side. Around 1980, they (the Czechoslovakian consulate) suddenly wanted to talk to us again. Because they wanted ... they made a list ... who had what education, and put prices on it, and we had to pay for it.
... we had to ask for visas to Czechoslovakia. My husband got a stamp at the consulate, they sent it to him the next day. I always had to wait for 6-8 weeks. They said that I was born in Czechoslovakia so they cannot do it at the consulate and have to ask for permission in Prague at some ministry whether I can get the visas or not. But how exactly they did it - I do not know. I always got it, but I had to wait for 6-8 weeks. I have one friend who got positive, yes, yes and no (i.e. she got the visas twice and then she did not). They did not give any reason. Simply no. So we thought they say no to every 30th. He gets No. (She laughs) How should one explain it to oneself? Because she asked 2 months later and she got it. We said really - yes-yes-yes-no. (She laughs)
As we can see from the previous example, the bureaucracy connected with visiting the home country was experienced as frustrating. The married women, who contrary to the emigrants could visit Czechoslovakia continuously, similarly had to ask for visas:
Zora Rovná - ... And I was not "emigrant" so I could return whenever, ... we visited my parents about twice a year.
...and later when I had my son I taught him Czech and often went there (to Czechoslovakia) with him, so he had in fact - two different worlds, he saw what system is here and what system is there. It was still communistic there and he remembers it well, so one can say that he has a wider horizon than an ordinary Danish or Czech boy.
Gabriela Schwartz - All the time I lived in Denmark I travelled at least once a year to Czechoslovakia, because I had - or have - my brother and parents here. All the time I continuously travelled to Czechoslovakia and kept aware and read Czech books and was interested in what is going on here, bought vinyl records...
As we could see from the previous interviews, the migration of the 60s generation in the 1980s slowly changed to migrancy. The term migrancy also best describes the migration pattern of the Czech women who married Danish men and therefore were allowed to visit Czechoslovakia continuously. Migrancy as a process took over even more after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Before moving on to the 90s, let me recapitulate the push and pull factors of the 60s generation:
The decade between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 11 September 2001 was similarly to the 60s a period of economic prosperity and atmosphere of optimism. The openness and dynamism in society together with low unemployment meant that it was also a decade when a second wave of Czech émigrés came to Denmark. The Czechs were permitted to travel freely again and that gave rise to new friendships and relationships. The Danish - Czech couples, whose number grew rapidly in the 90s, more usually settled in the economically stronger Denmark that has during the last 30 years developed a very thorough social welfare system as well as a certain "allergy" to foreigners.
One Saturday in February Babinec met for the first time in public space. We were about 15 girls sitting by a long table in a restaurant when a group of maybe eight Danish boys came in and sat by a nearby table. Their entrance evoked a peal of laughter among Babinec. We kept to our usual business - talking about what's new and especially joking, since double - meanings go best in one's mother tongue. (A story about another place, where the waiter claimed that he had IT only "small" - understand "in small portions" evoked probably the strongest burst of laughter that evening.) There was actually one man sitting at our table, but he had long hair and was sitting so the Danes could only see his back. When I accidentally looked up, my periphery vision often caught someone from the other group looking at the direction of our table.
The two groups noticed each other, but kept their separate conversations, interrupted only when one of the boys, who apparently guessed that we speak in a Slavic language, came to us and asked where we come from. Poland or maybe Russia? Somebody answered that we come from the Czech Republic. When we were about to leave one of them came to us again and asked: "What are you doing here?" - "are you nurses, or are you married here or what??" We obviously did not look like a possible sport team. I would rather leave out the possibility that the young man could have made a connection between "the East" and "sexual services."
The other girls left him doubting for a while, and answered only in jokes. I wanted to make an end to the situation and told him: "you said it yourself." Although it definitely was not true for every one of us - and for some it could have even been a welcomed chance to meet a possible partner - the answer we finally gave him was "most are married here." And that ended the conversation.
"Cultural complexity combined with group differentiation is not necessarily linked with ethnicity" (Hannerz in Eriksen 1993:157). This is true in the case of Babinec, where identification as a young (Czech) woman or wife was stronger than the national category of being "Czech" itself. The meeting in a public space (restaurant) however shows, how this in itself positive self-identification empowered in meeting with coevals may slide to a stereotypic categorisation of "East European women" present in Danish society. For this and other reasons most of the Babinec meetings were organised in the private sphere. I shall conclude the description of the 90s generation with a recapitulation of the push and pull factors:
A number of Babinec members left Denmark after my fieldwork was over. This coincided with the government change and more open dislike towards foreigners in Denmark. Those of my informants who did not have children could react to the unfavourable situation by returning to the Czech Republic. Their reasons for leaving were, however, mostly influenced by their job situation and private relations. One family temporarily moved to Germany - half way between both partners' homes.
In accordance with the general analytical framework of my research I further use Benedict Anderson's concept of "imagined community," and particularly his ideas of "substantial" and "parallel groups" (Anderson 1996). Anderson defines nation as an "imagined community," whose members living within the national territory form a "substantial group", while its émigrés form a group "parallel" to the substantial one (Anderson 1996:188-192). I understand the two generations of Czech émigrés who meet respectively in Babinec and in the DCA as two parallel groups that relate to different epochs in their country of origin and even to two different states - Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic respectively. Although I realise that it is impossible to generalise, I have tried to portray a "typical" representative of both generations: A typical 60s generation Czech émigré is a 50 - 60 years old woman or man, speaking Danish with an accent and feeling at home in Denmark where she/he has lived the last 30 years. She/he is a Danish citizen that came to Denmark as a refugee, because of work or marriage. She/he was tired or afraid of the political situation in Czechoslovakia and might already have a sibling in Denmark. At the time of my research her/his children had already left home, he/she has contact with the spouses' Danish family and has Danish colleagues and friends. A typical 90s generation Czech émigré is a 20 - 35 years old woman, speaking Danish (still following Danish classes), who may not feel at home in Denmark where she has spent 5-10 years. She is a Czech citizen who came to Denmark because of marriage, has 0-2 children and contact with Danes mostly via her husband - i.e. with his family and friends. She meets Danes at work or at school.
The verbal as well as non-verbal expressions of identity of the two generations differ considerably. While the 60s generation succeeded in their adaptation to the Danish reality to the extent that they are described by the 90s generation as Danes, the younger generation of Czech émigrés often feels proud to be Czech. Until the Danish parliamentary elections in autumn 2001 most of them were ready to keep their Czech citizenship and considered advice from the older generation to apply for Danish citizenship as soon as possible as paranoid.
The difference between DCA and Babinec, where Czech émigrés meet, basically amounts to the following:
The two groups - DCA and Babinec - both practice their identity unnoticed in the Danish context. Outwardly DCA seems to be a Danish association, due to the number of Danish members. The women who meet in the Babinec have no ambitions exceeding meetings in the private sphere.
Petra called me and asked whether I would like to join her to watch a football match between the Czech Republic and Denmark that took place in Copenhagen. I am not a football fan at all, in fact I had never been to a real match at a football stadium before. But I was just about to start my fieldwork and I suppose that anthropologists in other fields have to participate in events that are much more alien for them than football is for me. So I agreed to go. The Czech Republic had never lost to Denmark and the prospect of victory filled me with some enthusiasm.
We agreed to meet in front of the stadium and try to get some flags. Getting a real Czech flag seemed to be a problem.(11) When I accidentally heard that a distant acquaintance was coming from the Czech Republic with a group of other football fans to watch the match, I thought that he might bring us one. But it seemed to be too complicated to meet with someone I did not personally know and we decided to give up and improvise a bit. Hana had some small Czech paper flags at home and I bought colour pencils to paint flags on our cheeks.
It was a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon. As I walked towards "Parken" I passed a number of busses and cars with Czech registration numbers. Since the first part of the number is a district or town abbreviation, I could see what part of the country they came from. Therefore it was not a problem to notice a small van that probably belonged to the distant acquaintance from my hometown. I also met many Danish "roligans" dressed in various red and white artefacts. Some of them were wearing the huge fabric filled hats that tourists usually buy in Prague and wear while walking in crowds through the historical centre. Other artefacts that I never saw before seemed rather inventive to me. I did not feel like walking all the way to the stadium with the flags of "the other party" already painted on my face. Instead, we decorated ourselves just before the match started in the ladies' room. Already that caused some attention from others who were using the bathroom.
Although Petra intended to buy tickets to the Czech part of the stand, we ended up sitting in a place totally surrounded by Danes. She had probably chosen too expensive tickets and all the rest of the "Czech" area got sold to Danes. All other Czechs seemed to be to the right of us, on the lower part of the stands. Since we were reacting to what was going on in exactly the opposite way of everybody around us, the people sitting nearby noticed our presence although our flags were not too visible. Soon they found out that we understood Danish, and engaged in a lively conversation with Petra. The match was not going too well for the Czech Republic. I blamed myself for painting the flags on Petra's face upside down, and repainted them during the break, but it did not seem to have much influence on the game. Denmark won. For the first time ever, while we were watching it! How unlucky.
But what happened to my Czech émigré friend? She was still holding her Czech paper flag, but the Danes with whom she conversed during the game gave her a red-and-white football cap. That was a perfect materialisation of what was going on. Although we were disappointed at first, neither Petra nor I got really upset. After all we were not real football fans and it was the country we were living in that won.
On the way from the stadium, while I was rationalising the positive side of the result, we were so lucky to pass the van of my fellow countrymen, just when all eight passengers were sitting in there, ready to leave. I thought that we might get their flag now, when they did not need it any more. But that was not too clever of me. They were sitting in their van all very disappointed. They had travelled all the way from the Czech Republic only to see this match, and now there was an unhappy way home ahead of them. Even if the flag had belonged to them (it was just borrowed from a company one of them worked at) it would be very rude to sell their country's flag to us just after a lost match! Their despair had no parallels in our short term disappointment. During the game both we and they were on the same side, but we had an alternative we could go to when our team lost, which they did not share with us.
"A man must have a nationality as he must have a nose and two ears... A man without a nation defies the recognised categories and provokes revulsion." (Gellner 1983:6)
From the interview with Gabriela Schwartz:
The Czech TV was shooting a talk show with me (...) and they also asked me: "Are you Czech or are you Danish?" And I was saying: "I don't know. I really don't know whether I am more Czech or Danish ... I am both and I do not know where the border goes... I don't even think there is any. I am ... In Denmark I am more Danish and in the Czech Republic more Czech but here I say I'm going home to Denmark and in Denmark after a while I feel such an urge... I know that every time when I arrive to Prague and since I usually travel by car ....and when I drive through ...and suddenly see Prague ... I have always tears in my eyes and ... I am saying to myself ... this is the most beautiful city in the world! There's no doubt - I'm bound to the Czech country, to the Czech culture much more than to Denmark, but in Denmark I have my son who is (as I already said) the most important person in my life ... and now also the granddaughter... so it is another part of my heart that beats..."
In the following chapter I will analyse how the Czech émigrés experience their national identity in Denmark and in the Czech Republic. During the interviews the Czech émigrés declared themselves to feel and be understood by others to various degrees as Czech or Danish. In my inquiry I will focus on the acknowledged national identity of my informants rather than on their citizenship. I attempt to identify the aspects of Czech and Danish affiliation as they emanate through their narratives (and acts). My approach builds 1) on the German model of nation (Greenfeld 1992 quoted in Guibernau and Rex 1997:5, Holý 1998, Staun 2002), which I perceive as constitutive of both Czech and Danish understanding of national identity, and 2) on the distinction between nation and state (and thus also between nationality and citizenship) that evolved during the existence of the Czech nation within a multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire (e.g. Holý 1996, Holý 1998:113).
First let me briefly introduce two parallel understandings(12) of the concept of nation. The already mentioned "German model" (also called romantic, ethnic or eastern) defines a nation as "a non-political linguistic and cultural entity" or an "organic ethnically based community" (Holý 1998:113). In contrast, the competing "French model" (also known as republican, civic or western), is conceptualised as "a territory of citizens of a given country regardless of ethnicity" (Ibid 1998:113-114). Both models co-exist in all nations (with more or less of one or another) and correspond to Gellner's concepts of Gemeinshaft (the "organic" ethnically based nation) and Gesellschaft (citizenship based society, state) (Gellner 1998). While the French model stresses the experience of everyday life that in my text figures as function, it is the fixity of national identity or "emotion," that is most characteristic of the German model.
The incapacity of the German model to cover the experience of everyday life becomes an unsurpassable obstacle for the émigrés. We can see this in the following interview, where Václav Baum discusses his position as an émigré in which he invokes the French model of nationhood. His conclusion, however, that he is more likely to be accepted by others as a Czech than as a Dane, is based on the German model of nation:
Lenka - Do you still feel Czech or a bit Danish, or both?
Václav Baum - It would be both or something. If I would claim that I am Danish, it would be exaggerated, it would be nonsense. I am of course Czech, but not completely, because I spent most of my life, especially when you consider only the part of life when one understands what is going on - sometime when you start going to school or so, because the first years do not matter, but let's say from six years of age until now - I spent a substantially longer part of my life in Denmark, under Danish conditions. I also know my way here better than in the Czech Republic. I mean in relation to public matters. When I need to see to something at an office, I know where to go, while in the Czech Republic I do not. When I come (he smiles) to some office there, when I have something to take care of on my mother's behalf, I have no clue. At the offices they still have that kind of arrogance towards each other - they think they look at a blockhead. I use language that sounds rather archaic to them or local dialect that seems archaic to people, so they think "look, here comes "an uncle" from a village, he doesn't know what is going on in the town ...and so... (he laughs) and so. So that is one thing, I know the ropes better here than there, but then my Danish language is very transparent. Once I open my mouth everybody can hear that I am not a Dane, it is of little use, when I open my mouth there, people in a while start wondering that I speak in an old-fashioned way, that I use expressions that do not exist anymore (he laughs) and on the other hand do not understand - not words, but expressions, or when somebody starts discussing some topic with me, political, cultural or from sport I do not know anything about it, I do not know anybody, they quote events and people that mean nothing to me, you know...
So I would say that one is still Czech. I speak Czech at home with my wife, I am not so pompous as to claim that I am Danish, although I am a Danish citizen, although I know Danish traditions and so on. I think that if I said to some Danes that I am Danish, they would laugh at me. In the Czech Republic I can say that I am Czech ... there they would accept it, but here it would probably sound silly.
While Václav functions in everyday life within the Danish society, it is precisely the absence of this aspect that makes him feel as a stranger in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, regardless of how well-integrated he is in Danish society, the ethnic imperative dictates that he can never become truly Danish. The émigrés are an abnormality in the construction of national identity after the German model. We can notice that Václav is caught in the middle, when he attempts to define himself with the existing categories, which are not sufficient. Kateřina describes a similar feeling of belonging nowhere when she talks about her short visits to the Czech Republic:
In shops we stare at the variety, and I buy magazines, but politics and so on - I can not grasp it, the new actors and singers - I have no idea who it is, I do not follow what is going on. But then when I am in Denmark ... we were for example at that Christmas party or something, and they start playing old Danish songs and having fun and I am saying to myself - I will never become Danish, I don't know these songs and I feel pity for myself because I can never feel happy about the same things they do and enjoy it the way I could if I were in the Czech Republic, but then I realise that in the Czech Republic I do not know (she returns to the politics, actors and singers) ... so I am neither the one nor the other it seems to me.
Kateřina realises that she "will never become Danish." As Daniela says in the following text, it is possible to change the values, opinions and behaviour of the émigrés so they act and think as Danes. But to the extent that Danish nationality is based on the German model, it is not possible for any foreigner to actually become a Dane:
Lenka - Do you feel like Czech or Danish, or is it sometimes this and at other times that?
Daniela - The identity is definitely double, but I today - after those years ... I start feeling not "at home" - I don't know - should I say at home? - I don't feel Danish because I am not a Dane, and I never will be, but I do not feel like a Czech either because I haven't been in contact with the country for many years. So the identity is somewhere in the middle and one is also with the university education trying to build some kind of cosmopolitan identity. I know that I can never become Danish, never. I can put on a Danish face (pretend that I am Danish) and I definitely have adapted - today I perceive many things more as a Dane than as a Czech does, but to consider myself to be a Dane, I would have to be sandbagged. Do you consider yourself to be Danish?
Lenka - No. (I smile) But I have been here only for 2 years and even that...
Daniela - Right, but you might adopt certain values, or a lifestyle, but in order to feel Danish - you would have to be sandbagged (i.e. stupid).
As we see from the previous examples, national identity is not only self-ascribed, it is also ascribed by the surrounding society (Barth 1969, Verdery 1994:37). In his discussion Václav included both aspects, which are in case of émigrés often conflicting. In the following story that I wrote down during one of the Babinec meetings, Ema shared her feelings with us about realising that despite her self-identification as Czech, she might no longer be recognised as part of the Czech society.
Ema - During the floods,(13) I was experiencing it so much, I was afraid, what they were showing on TV - it was touching my heartstrings. Then I come to the Czech Republic to my parents' summerhouse and go to buy a toy for my daughter. The shop assistant asks what house I come from. When I say which one, she realises that "I am the one from abroad" and answers - "Yeah, I noticed that you have an accent." Ema gets mad - "I speak normally!"(14)
Ema's experience provoked a lively discussion about the experience of returning and whether one may gain a Danish accent in Czech or not, that everybody present seemed eager to take part in. The general concern of the discussion that I did not record in details was the realisation that becoming an émigré implies exclusion from the Czech Gesellschaft in the sense of the French model of nationality. Still they are destined to stay Czechs following the German one.
Benedict Anderson, author of the famous definition of nation as an "imagined community," introduces the concepts "substantial" and "parallel groups" (Anderson 1996:188-192). Anderson defines a parallel group as one that shares the imagined aspect of community with their substantial group in their country of origin, while the framework of their everyday life is at the same time constituted by another national space. Implementing Anderson's terminology, and considering the émigrés different practice,(15) that simultaneously led to the formation of the two groups of Babinec and DCA, I understand Czech émigrés in Denmark as two "parallel groups." The recorded narratives (an excellent example is that at the top of this chapter told by Gabriela) however suggest that the significant boundary (Barth 1969) between "Czech and Danish," is expressed not only in the formation of two different groups, but also in the case of the Czech émigrés in Denmark, on the individual level. The prevailing individual experience of the dividing line is not surprising since Czech émigrés do not figure in the Danish context as a group or ethnic minority. Hana and Kamila talked about that during the focus group:
Hana - We are not really a community, because there are so few of us, we are not even a minority nor ethnic group, simply nothing, there are a few people, but...
Kamila - There are not that few of us, but we do not know of each other.
Taking Barth's Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (Barth 1969) as his point of departure, Cohen draws attention to the absence of anthropological studies of ethnic boundaries on the level of individual consciousness (Cohen 1994). He further suggests that the crossing of a boundary, in this case migration, stimulates the individual's self-reflexivity. The narratives that I recorded during the interviews with my informants reveal a high level of self-reflexivity among the émigrés. Some of my informants named being/becoming cosmopolitan as a way of coping with the different realities. As we can see from a number of the cited examples, Czech émigrés living in Denmark are caught between Danish function and practice of everyday life, and lasting Czech national emotion. I will pay more attention to these two analytical approaches in the following paragraph.
...writing about Kwakiutl dancing, Boas says it is an example of the culture's approach to rhythm, and therefore it cannot be reduced to a mere "function" of society. One must instead ask what this rhythm is for the people who dance to it and the answer can only be found by exploring the emotional states, which generate and are generated by the rhythm (Boas 1927 quoted in Eriksen and Nielsen 2001:40).
Integration is in my opinion a functionalistic concept. It is about finding a place in the functioning of society. ... As any anthropologist knows no society can be fully described by functional analysis. Societies are also reflexive; they are systems of representation, they have a dialogue, moral, "atmosphere," feeling for etc. They are emotional arrangements of language and images (Knudsen 2003:24).
In everyday life Czech émigrés function within the framework defined by the surrounding Danish society. The concept function refers to the "well functioning" ("man er velfungerende") of Czech émigrés within the Danish society. The degree of adaptation of Czech émigrés in Denmark clearly appears when they describe how the Danish function they adopted collides with the Czech practice of everyday life. Jana Jensen, whom I interviewed when she moved back to Denmark after a couple of years in the Czech Republic, says about that:
... it seems to me that when we returned there (to the Czech Republic) now, ... I had contact with my friends from school, from the elementary school and from my university, and it seems to me, the lifestyle I have, how long I have been in Denmark, that I still - am Czech, but it seems to me that I behave as Danes do, right. A different lifestyle as such. I think differently than they (my Czech friends) do. I know that I invited my (Czech) female friends several times - either they did not have time because they had to do something in the kitchen or - it seems to me that their priorities are different than mine (she says "ours" i.e. of her family).
Rather than narrating her past, Jana constructed her stay in Prague in a sense of "phenomenological retention" and therefore she used the past tense (we returned) together with present (now). Her narrative is an example of the "phenomenological time core" (Zeithof)(16), i.e. "the ability to sustain what has happened (retention) and what will come (protention) in one present" (Husserl explained in Sokol 1994:23). Jana refers to the "inner" time "of experience" where all primary, transcendent experience originates (Sokol 1995). Although she is already physically in Denmark, her consciousness still bears a "tail of retention" (Kometenschweif von Retentionen) of her Prague stay (Ibid).
Time is an example of social-structural and functional imposition placing the individual within a collective framework (Foucault 1977 in Rapport and Overing 2000). We could say that Czech émigrés repeatedly "disappear" and "reappear" during time. They are most of their life in Denmark controlled by "Danish time" - when there is place for free time within this framework, there comes an opportunity to practice their Czech identity. The meetings of Babinec and DCA are both weekend activities and I could almost say that they practice their Czech identity only as a leisure time activity. With "Danish time" I mean the time structure or rhythm people living within the borders of the particular state follow, to paraphrase Boas. The Czech philosopher Sokol notices that "the community of time" is created at a "deep [and] basic level: in the experience of a common rhythm" (Sokol 1994:25). In a rather prosaic but at the same time visible way we can see the effect of such "national time" when a series of national holidays i.e. free days or school holidays makes a majority of people living within the borders of the state travel in a particular period. A rare example when such national time spills over into other countries are e.g. the closing days at Embassies and Consulates that do not follow the national holidays of the state where they are situated, but the ones of the state they represent. The migrants similarly carry with them the national time or rhythm of the day. In the following example Jana Jensen talks about collision of her Danish time or rhythm of the day with that of her Czech family or friends:
There is a difference, I know that Czechs have sometimes traditions that - they eat dinner at twelve, right, (she laughs) a soup and a warm meal. Right, typically - it doesn't matter whether it is summer or winter or ... so soup and a warm meal and exactly at twelve. And I know ...we are used to from Denmark, one gets up late, so we might eat at half past eleven, but we eat breakfast. Or at eleven, or later, it doesn't matter. I know that I called, I was arranging something with my mother if I can come and I said at half past twelve. And she said: "I can't (don't you know) I have dinner at twelve." I know that I once called a friend, and I didn't realise that it was twelve or a quarter to twelve - and she says - "I don't have time"- astonished - how come you call me, you know that it's dinnertime?!
Both of Jana's examples also touch upon the different gender roles she got confronted with during her temporary return to the Czech Republic (a man who is not preparing dinner might not run into a similar situation). I will write more about the gender difference in chapter four. It penetrates the narratives on function as a consequence of woman's prevailing responsibility for the everyday life and rhythm of the Czech family (e.g. Haukanes 2003). It is also evident in the following examples. Romana, whom I interviewed upon her return to the Czech Republic, describes the influence of Danish everyday life on her contemporary practice. She reacted to my question whether she feels Czech or whether something has changed by stating that she is, of course, Czech and then she exclaimed:
I had something there! About 30 percent, probably the language, you know simply the TV, reading only in Danish and their customs, we went e.g. to the church at Christmas time, all these things I adopted from Denmark, I adapted to their [everyday rhythm and] lifestyle... and still today I light the candles, here we have - you see - the little flag Czech and Danish, it must be so. My son had his birthday last week and I made a birthday cake for him with a Czech and a Danish flag. ... He had to get the flags ... probably something (Danish) stayed there. I don't recollect that I would light candles on a normal day or in the evening to create a certain atmosphere. But today I use it a lot and I have the small flags on display, when somebody comes for a visit he/she says: "What is it? A Czech flag? And why?"
...or I am using some things in the kitchen that I got used to in Denmark, some food that I like, or some things you cannot buy here, that's trifles, a fork to peal hot potatoes, I got that because I got used to it there. So it's these little things that remain from it. And I think that I wouldn't want to renounce these, (seven) years is a long time, I came to like these things and will probably always use them.
We can see that the émigrés not only function within the Danish society, they take parts of the practice of Danish everyday life with them back to the Czech Republic. They might create curious abnormalities such as placing the Czech national flag on a birthday cake or in the living room. But they also both present and create abnormalities in social interaction as we can see from the following example about an invitation to a party, which Jana and her Danish husband organised during their stay in the Czech Republic, in a castle:
... I invited my (Czech female) friends because I wanted them to come and Simona first told me that her husband won't come, because it is not for him to go to a party - she's a friend of mine from the university - so I am saying - but you can come - and she says - I don't know, I will think of it and then she wrote that she won't come, because she doesn't have anybody who would take care of her daughter. And I'm saying: Can't her husband take care of their child? But she wrote that she won't come. And I was quite disappointed, a second friend of mine didn't come either, she found some strange excuse. I would say that Danes - it is also because they live through those huge parties and that, even children, because they go to parties. So Danes do not come to a party only when they cannot or when there really is something so important that makes it impossible for them to come. Otherwise they, of course, try to come. Whereas the two friends of mine, or three in fact, declined my invitation because of ...I don't know if they didn't want to talk to the other people - or ... I think that it is because they have a different lifestyle there (in the Czech Republic), because our (the family's) purchasing power, we (the Jensen family) had higher purchasing power than they had.
In the previous example Jana describes herself as acting on the Danish premises that she is used to, without realising that these are not the rules of Czech society and of her friends. She attempts to interpret her friends' objections in terms of economy and gender. They were probably also influenced by the fact that Jana was perceived as an "emigrant" i.e. one who had left for a better life. The rather large degree of adaptation of Czech émigrés(17) to Danish society can probably be partly explained by their openness to new cultural influences, which I will now discuss.
Many commentators pay attention to Czech flexibility. In his thesis "Little Czechs, big Europe," that builds on Holý, Jiří Brodský writes about the adaptability of Czech identity: "Czechs have one tremendous asset: [...] the ability to assimilate culturally, to adopt the characteristics and influences of the [surrounding] nations" (Brodský 2000). Similarly, the sociologist Jan Keller in an interview describes Czechs as flexible. "Czechs are flexible. Not only in the negative, but also in the positive sense" (Plavcová 2003).
Finally, Nora Gotaas in her thesis Den poetiske middelvej - fleksibilitet og modernitet blant middelklassen i Praha, pays attention to the flexibility inherent in the Czech version of modernity. She characterises Czech flexibility as one that does not reach climax (and thus prevents overt conflicts). The specificity of Czech flexibility lies, according to Gotaas, in its creativity and potential to change over time (Gotaas 1992:90). "The attempt to keep possibilities open," which is described by Gotaas, often transpired in my interview examples. Although these commentators may well have given exaggerated attention to Czechs flexibility, it remains an empirical fact that in emigration Czechs adapt to their surroundings as is also the case in Denmark.
However, as we see in the following paragraph, even if Czechs are flexible, there still remains something that the Danish everyday life cannot change - the emotions. In the next paragraph we can see a tendency towards strengthened identification with the sending society.
... old loyalties to the lord or the monarch were replaced by loyalty to the nation. The nation thus became an emotionally charged object... (Llobera 1994 and Giddens 1985 quoted in Guibernau and Rex 1997:4).
It [...] [is] now increasingly recognized that [...] far from resting solely on [...] [the] rationalizing base, the nation state might be held together emotionally by bonds not unlike ethnic ones (that) [...] at the same time generate opposition and resistance... (Guibernau and Rex 1997:2).
While their everyday life is structured by the rules of Danish society, Czech émigrés often express the feeling of being bound to Czechness in terms of "culture" (high culture) or "nature" (landscape) endowed with significant meaning. These expressions correspond to the Romantic or German model of nationhood that I explained at the beginning of the chapter. Let us look at some concrete examples. Gabriela Schwartz describes the strong emotions she experiences when listening to Czech opera, which a Danish opera is not able to evoke:
So strong experience as I have here (in Prague) - when I for example go to the theatre and I am really lifted to a different world and the whole evening is beautiful. I do not get so strong experiences from Danish culture and there I think it plays a role in some way that one grew up with those fairy tales and the Czech music. I am never so moved when I see a classical Danish drama. I like it all, it is not that, but it doesn't touch me as "Night on Karlštejn" does. Because we know it from our childhood and we know the myths around it, and the cultural experience is much stronger in the mother tongue, in the country where one grew up and whose history one knows.
In the following example Kamil Kotrba expresses his relation to the two countries in terms of nature. Notice that while he describes the Danish sea as beautiful, the Czech mountains come out of his comparison as "alive," i.e. endowed with meaning.
Kamil Kotrba - ... I was born in the foothills, and spent a lot of time in the mountains, so I missed the mountains terribly. When I came here and lived in Christianshavn, I tried to describe (in my letters to Czechoslovakia) how it looks here: "I live one metre above sea level" (he laughs). Something like that. I exchanged skiing and winter sports for yachting... here you have the sea, so it is different. The sea is a beautiful thing. A little bit like the mountains, but they are alive... it is different, well. I remember when I travelled to - I do not know - Germany, and when I came to Hannover and saw the little hills start to undulate, it took me by the heart. Well, I was ... we all have that kind of ...But in the summer it is pleasant here. There is nothing more beautiful than the Scandinavian summer.
Löfgren suggests that expressing national identity in terms of nature is typically Scandinavian (Löfgren 1989:198). On the basis of my interviews I could clearly argue that the expression of national identity through identification with the landscape and natural settings is not exclusively Scandinavian, it is also something a Czech would do.
Holý notices that the way Czech landscape is represented in the national discourse "reflects the aesthetic criteria of natural beauty of the Romantic period. The image of Austrian Alps during the national appraisal melted into the Czech mountains, represented by Šumava. Choosing Šumava is itself remarkable, since probably all the other mountain ranges in the country are higher and more mountain like, but Šumava borders on Germany and the Alps are visible from there. In its "mildness," resistance and Bavarian influence Šumava is probably the very representation of Czechness. It is "flexible" - Regina who lived near Šumava was able to talk about similarities in Danish landscape to Šumava. The younger generation and women generally changed that discourse of a national symbol to the ecological discourse ("what can you use mountains for when you live in a city where your children breathe polluted air") and talked about their immediate environment.
The registers through which émigrés express their identity often get blurred since they are influenced by one or the other culture. We might agree that football(18) is one of the ways Danes typically express nationality, while language might be used equally (though not necessarily in the same way) by Czechs and Danes. In the following narrative Kateřina is using both to express her Czech national sentiment:
... normally I never watch football, but when it is Czechs playing and somebody tells me to watch it, or when there is an interview in Czech - I say to myself (she sighs) Czech (language) - when I am now speaking with you, it doesn't move me of course, but when it is on TV - Oh! Or when we travel to the Czech Republic and we are in Dresden where you can hear Czech radio I listen to any possible nonsense I would never be interested in, simply - it is in Czech.
The narratives further suggest that Czech émigrés retain feelings and emotions connected either to the spheres of national sentiment (language, nature or landscape, culture) or shared public events (opera, sport or political events, songs). The latter allow direct participation of émigrés in the imagined community of Czech Gemeinschaft through the experience of "Husserl's time core (Zeithof)" (Sokol 1995). The following story, where Gabriela described how moved she was when the Czech Republic was joining NATO, is an example of such an event:
I remember that in 89 I felt proud, I was saying to myself, I had done nothing for it, but the feeling of happiness and also... pride that the Republic is returning to where it belonged, but mainly it was feeling of happiness. I remember that when .... (Madeleine) Albright was here welcoming the Czech Republic to NATO, I cried, it was such a beautiful speech and I cried, it was so moving - firstly, it was such a strong personality - and so she said welcome to the family of democratic nations - and her tears started running, and then they showed Havel and he was moved as well, I saw myself how I was wiping my eye make-up... many people were touched - really ... the happiness that communism doesn't exist any more...
The above mentioned expressions reveal the abstract character of nationhood. As Kateřina said - it does not move her to talk Czech with me. The narratives in this paragraph were about "the big Czech nation" not about "little Czechs" (Holý 1996). After migration the little Czechs do not any more disturb the émigrés' idealised image of the big Czech nation. This becomes confronted again upon the émigrés return, as we could see in the previous paragraph about "Danish function." The émigrés in Denmark on the other hand absorb influences of the surrounding Danish society they interact with as we could see on the registers through which one expresses nationality. I will pay more attention to the influence of the dominant society in the next paragraphs where we can see how migration and changes in context influence or even create identity.
"Exile [...] creates ethnicity, for it is exile that allows, rather forces, a group to see "difference," to see others." (Pellizzi 1988 quoted in Camino and Krulfeld 1994:8).
During the focus group(19) we talked about how my informants first in Denmark became conscious of being Czech:
Hana - ....Danes are proud to be Danes so I am proud to be Czech.
Lenka - Would you be proud to be Czech if you lived in the Czech Republic and were not surrounded by Danes?
Hana - Definitely not. If I were in the Czech Republic I would see myself as coming from the town of Kladno. It depends where you are, if I were in the USA I would be proud to come from Europe. (she laughs)
Hana talks about "becoming Czech" after she moved to Denmark. She thus refers to the time delayed change in context as the decisive factor. Here it would be possible to implement Barth's theory of boundaries and argue that Czech émigrés first became aware of their identity when they see the difference vis-à-vis the dominant group (Barth 1969). This is expressed in the narratives (of Ema, Václav and Kateřina at the beginning of this chapter, and those in the subchapter Danish Function and Czech Emotion) where the émigrés talk about feeling more Czech in Denmark and more Danish in the Czech Republic. Gabriela Schwartz in the example at the top of this chapter on the contrary maintains that she is more Czech in the Czech Republic, and more Danish in Denmark. (Working for a Danish employer in the Czech Republic, Gabriela is in a different position than other visiting émigrés or re-emigrants). She refers to her harmonious function in the everyday life of the surrounding Czech or Danish society and rather than enhancing differences she chooses to stress the flexibility she experiences. There are several reasons for her statement: 1) She attempts to be loyal to both sides. 2) Her double identity is a qualification she can use professionally, and thus experiences as an advantage rather than a handicap. 3) She is able to appreciate the rather non-problematic experience of living both in the Czech Republic and Denmark thanks to her experience of living in a third country during her professional career. Gabriela's self-ascribed identity is an example of the situational approach to ethnicity, which emphasises that a particular social situation "may determine which of a person's communal identities or loyalties are appropriate at a point in time" (Paden quoted in Okamura 1981). I further suggest that when Hana says that "Danes are proud to be Danes so I am proud to be Czech," she is contrasting herself to the dominant Danish society through expressing her Czech national identity. This is possible to do since the notion of Czech and Danish nationhood are constructed in a similar and mutually non-conflicting way. In the next chapter I will analyse a level on which the notions of ascribed and self-ascribed identity of the Czech émigrés in Denmark collide.
As we could see in this chapter, the way Czech and Danish national identity is constructed has its origins in the 19th century nation building. The "German" (Romantic) model and the "French" (citizen) model co-exist in both societies in the form of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. My material shows that after migration the émigrés keep emotional loyalty to the abstract model of nationhood of the sending country, while they become a well functioning part of the host society. Czech émigrés in Denmark thus remain a part of the Czech Gemeinschaft while they become included in the Danish Gesellschaft. Rather than forming a parallel group, the boundary is in case of Czech émigrés in Denmark at the individual level. The Czech flexibility and openness towards Danish influences on the one hand, and the time-postponed process of identification on the other, resulted e.g. in the formation of the DCA, whose form of organisation is truly Danish, while it embraces loyalties towards the Czech Lands.(20)
The term "Central Europe" is defined in various ways - either in a more narrow sense as "the countries that formed the Austro-Hungarian Empire" (Østergård 1993, Dau and Sampson 1992) or more broadly as "the small nation states sandwiched between two dominant powers: Germany and Russia." (Kundera quoted in Staun 2002, Kuras 2001). Regardless which definition we use, the Czech Lands are included. This term should be juxtaposed with the popular Danish perception that defines the countries behind the former iron curtain as "Eastern Europe." Already in the early 90s Mary Dau and Steven Sampson predicted that: "The terms Eastern and Western Europe will disappear. "Eastern Europe" is (...) a political phenomenon, closely connected with the Cold War" (Dau and Sampson 1992). They expected that this rather artificial division would be replaced by a growing importance of the regional aspect of the European continent, based on the historical heritage. Instead both strongly politicized and still highly contested terms re-embraced in a stalemate. The striking inertia of the existence of the term "Eastern Europe" in the western hemisphere ten years later is complemented by the expansion of the term "Central Europe."
Central Europeans in Eastern Europe?
The resurgence of the term "Central" ought to be explained in terms of construction of identity. Czechs today perceive the period of socialism as imposed by others, as is best documented by the 68 occupation of Czechoslovakia. This perception rests on the same premises as the perception of the Nazi occupation as a foreign hegemony which is shared by the west-European countries. In accordance with this view the Czechs "bracket"(21) the whole period of socialism and Nazi occupation, and in constructing their identity draw upon the existence of the Czech nation in a certain geographical and cultural space with reference to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The term "Central European" thus has to be understood as a symbol of their re-born identity after years of apathy. At the same time I realise that nobody can deny the influence that the period of socialism had on today's Czech Republic. If identity can be constructed with reference to the more distant past, while skipping the recent past, the same cannot be said about the immediate influence on the social reality of the country.
The Czech author V. Cílek calls Central Europe with a pinch of self-irony and poetics "the area of apple strudel," thus emphasising the common cultural heritage of people living in the area:
"... if we created a map of the area where people know apple strudel, it would be identical with the part of Europe where people very well understand Stefan Zweig and some other poets as well as a certain skilfulness of handicraft and where roofs have a certain fall. I would almost dare to say that if there is any boundary which is important for Central Europeans, it is exactly the area of apple strudel" (Cílek 2002:80).
He attempts to restore the awareness of the Central European identity by pointing out its persisting substantial content. Despite a deep understanding of the ongoing process, the contrasting view of an American university professor discloses his profound indifference:
"The concept of "central" brings the same erroneous or incomplete images of uniquely civilized, developed, "western" values. Is it any wonder that the nations bordering the "western" and "civilized" nations such as Germany and Austria exert enormous effort to link themselves to them and distance themselves from "the other." (Konnilyn Feig 2004)
The "otherness" of Eastern Europe that Konnilyn Feig talks about, was transmitted to the term from its core - the "enigmatic Russian identity which both is and is not European" (Nielsen 2000:31). By prolonging the imposed dominance of the Soviet hegemony in terms of cultural discourse, the concept "Eastern Europe" implicitly undermines the process of othering from the East and denies approach to the West that the Czechs are undergoing.(22) The concept also homogenises them with Russians in a way which is dangerously similar to the panslavic(23) rhetoric built in to the Czech national ideology. In fact the very process of rehabilitation, restoring of awareness or a "quest for recognition" (Linnet 2002:17), might from a western perspective seem to be just another common element typical of the area. But the situation is more complex than this. In the following paragraph I outline the complex processes that influence the situation of Czech émigrés in Denmark.
In anthropology we should avoid using designations against which the "natives" object, and preferably express ourselves using the "native" and politically correct terms (autonyma) as Inuits and not Eskimos, Afro-Americans instead of Blacks, Romas rather then Gypsies. However, the "natives," in this case the people living in the countries of the former Soviet hemisphere, do not make the situation easier neither for a western anthropologist, nor for the recognition of the "true" Central European nations. The recent expansion of the term "Central Europe" far beyond the borders of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, was documented, for example, by Staun (Staun 2002:105). The label "Central" has become a kind of tag encrypted with signs of "emancipation" or "rehabilitation," whose basic function is to show that the former East European nations are "on their way to Europe" and away from Russian influence. The successful expansion of the term "Central" can be partly explained by its very meaning. Phenomenologists notice that one naturally perceives the surrounding world from the centre, i.e. from the place where one stands (Sokol 1994:15). The adoption of the term and denotation of one's country as "Central" is thus itself very catchy. The character of the term also enables a citizen of a given Central European country to accept the western perception of the other Central European countries as Eastern European while maintaining his/her original standpoint. It is no surprise that Western European anthropologists are confused when they listen to the locals. The people whom they would categorise as Eastern Europeans call themselves Central Europeans.(24) The result is a parallel existence of both terms in Western Europe, where East and Central do not mean that there are East European countries together with Central European countries, but that the terms are equally used for most of them. The term "Central Europe" in this context works as a semi-effective undermining metaphor of the term "Eastern Europe," to which image I pay attention in the next paragraph.
The following materialisation of the stereotypic Eastern European image(25) provides the key tool for enabling us to understand the context, which Czech émigrés in Denmark in the 90s were associated with:
At one of the Babinec meetings Kamila told us that she is working on an article about Czech cuisine for a very fancy Danish magazine. That initiated a discussion about what recipes to choose, how to make dumplings from Danish flour etc.
When the issue finally came out I bought one copy and looked for those eight pages dedicated to Czech cuisine. I am absolutely sure that Kamila made her work without any prejudices about Eastern Europe. But the layout left nobody in doubt of what part of the world the article came from. Although almost the whole magazine was in colour, these pages were black and white. That might have been due to a wish for a simpler artistic and perhaps Kafka-like look. But the three full-page photographs accompanying her text fit all too well with the image of Eastern Europe as a shabby and colourless place. On the first picture we see a big face of a laughing waiter, which takes up almost the whole page. He looks exactly as if he just had some typical calorie bomb dish flushed down with more than one beer. The second photograph portrays an old wrinkled man with thick glasses and a worn-out winter coat standing above his long-empty cup and looking out of the buffet window panel. Finally, the third picture catches a woman bowed by age with grown out perm wearing a camouflage jacket and holding a plastic bag, who is walking down a picturesque street in the old centre of Prague half covered with scaffolding.
These are people who actually eat the Czech food presented in the magazine! I was asking myself: "Why would the reader feel tempted to imitate them?" Maybe the goal was not to attract the reader to actually try out the recipes, but simply to present the strange and unknown, which above all provides an excellent chance to employ the highly appreciated anti-advertising social-realistic style. This anti-aesthetic makes it acceptable to present the readers with the very image of Eastern Europe, which has no parallel in the otherwise exclusively stylish magazine.
Czech émigrés in the 90s met a very powerful image of "Eastern Europe" and a very well established perception in the Danish society of what Eastern Europe is like: A shabby and dangerous place, an economically poor cousin characterized by corruption, prostitution etc. But also a place where things and labour are cheap.
During a meeting at the East-Central European group at the Institute of Anthropology after a documentary film from Eastern Slovakia one of the directors talked about preparations for the film. That started a vivid discussion on how to visually present Eastern Europe. He mentioned that the filmmakers on purpose planned the shooting of the documentary so that they will work in autumn weather, when everything looks really grey. Their aesthetic criteria were more than fulfilled thanks to the first wet and fast disappearing snow that has fallen on the location. During the discussion it came out that it is equally important to grasp the prefabricated concrete buildings that play a primary role in the image of Eastern Europe. Other desired artefacts might be horses used instead of a tractor, old people in their houses with kitschy living rooms etc. This image of Eastern Europe I just described is in direct contrast with the Czechs perception of their homeland that I will pay attention to in the following paragraph.
The Beautiful Czech Lands
Apart from its strong linguistic orientation, which has been constantly noted by virtually all students of Czech nationalism, its most striking - but in the existing scholarly writing much less emphasised - feature is its fascination with, and celebration of, the beauty of the Czech countryside.... (Holý 1998:118)
In his analysis of the Czech national anthem Holý points out, that the Czech lands are first of all constructed as beautiful. He notices that the outstanding beauty of the Czech Lands is purely asserted (since the initial singer of the national anthem was a blind violinist) and links the emphasis on the visual aspect of beauty to "the supremacy of sight in Western culture." The "mystique of beauty [is] deeply rooted in the European tradition of thought" as the connection "between the beautiful and good" (metamorphosed as the God) on the one hand, and "the ugly and the evil" on the other hand (Holý 1998:121-22). As we could see in narratives in the paragraph "Czech emotion," the émigrés maintain emotional bonds to their country of origin they imagine as beautiful. This perception not only directly opposes the image of Eastern Europe as shabby and bad, and denies their connection with the communistic "evil empire." It also witnesses the Czechs participation in the shared western cultural ideal of supremacy of sight itself.
The complex of various factors that result in Czech émigrés objection towards the image of Eastern Europe are among others: 1) "Czech émigrés did not prior to their arrival to Denmark think of themselves as East Europeans, 2) national identity is emotionally based (as I already showed in the paragraph "Danish function and Czech emotion") and 3) the ascribed image of Eastern Europe directly opposes the image of the Czech Lands (Holý 1998). The stress on images is given by the way Czech national identity is constructed - as belonging and the loyalty of an individual towards an image of community (the beautiful homeland, the big Czech nation) rather than to the community itself (the little Czechs) (Holý 1996).
"Emotions refer to processes of the human mind and body that exert a compelling influence on thought and social interaction. They are embedded in the social and interpersonal realities, where they shape and are shaped by, cultural understandings and social institutions"(Barfield 1997).
The immediate effect that the image of Eastern Europe prevalent in the dominant Danish society has on the self-perception of identity of the marginal group of the Czech émigrés appears as a strong emotional reaction, which may result in conflicts in social interaction. In my informants' narratives about their identity there often appeared expressions such as: "It offended me," "I have my pride," "it is exaggerated," "I started feeling - what do they think about us!" "...a numbskull who lacks education etc."(26) These emotional expressions are connected with the discrepancy between the émigrés' ascribed and self-ascribed identity.
Kapferer notices that "Individuals experience themselves - they experience their experience and reflect on it - both from their own standpoint and from the standpoint of others" (Kapferer 1986:189).
While the Czech Republic is "restoring" the awareness of the Central European identity, Czech émigrés are surrounded by Danes who think of them as East Europeans. I will present two stories where Czech émigrés (who came to Denmark in the 90s) describe such conflicting situations. I asked Kamila to write about an incident she mentioned during our interview:
In my first job that I got shortly after my arrival to Denmark in summer 1999, I ran into a very arrogant and unpleasant boss. He assigned me to a project on civic/community residence in Warsaw, Poland. I liked the project and had nothing against it at the beginning. Apart from my boss. He had never visited either Czechia(27) or Poland and assumed that all countries from the Eastern block are alike. He therefore deduced that it is as if I worked on a project at home. Later during the project he had to visit the site in Warsaw, and at the occasion made a photo documentation of some local residential houses (both older and newer ones). After his return to Denmark he showed me these pictures and mocked the Polish - and therefore our - building methods, the poor quality of craftsmen's work etc. I protested that Czechia is not Poland and that he should not pass judgement on us when he has never seen the place. I suggested that he visit at least Prague. In his own words this was not necessary, because he could "imagine that." I brought him a Czech periodical "Architekt" presenting mostly recent Czech architecture. The issue attracted interest of other colleges, many of whom found it inspiring for their work. However, my boss did not even show an interest to look at it.(28)
During the interview Romana reconstructed the following dialogue she once took part in:
We were talking about housing, and they asked me: How did you live there (in Czechoslovakia) Did you have a flat?
Romana - I had a flat.
X - And what kind of flat?
Romana - normal one - in a block of flats, first category.
X - How did it look like?
Romana - Well, four rooms, on the sixth floor with elevator...
X - And how many families did live there?
Romana - (turns to me): You know what (I am talking about).
Lenka - (I speak out what she keeps unspoken): you mean Russia.
Romana -... when I tell you in Czechia and how many families! I started feeling - what do they think about us! And for the first time in my life I started - in that age - (she smiles) feeling a pride and defending us. And I said - what do you mean?
X - We heard at school or they told us that in the socialistic states usually live two-three families together or relatives and that they have a toilet together with their neighbour.
Then I said to my Danish husband - this makes me angry, what they think. I felt so good and normal when I came to Denmark, and now I start feeling they stare at me every time I say that I am from the Czech Republic. That they think I am inferior in some way, that I probably lived with those families, that I had a low-quality life. But I had a normal life. Financially it was not any super luxury, but I had a normal living standard similar to what I have now! - He told me that at school they did not distinguish among the socialist states. Everybody lived like that. It was similar to our propaganda. He told me not to get angry at them - because they really have learned it at school that way. ...
As I said - luckily it did not happen often and not at the beginning, because if I have heard such shocking things from five-ten people, I would probably say - I cannot live here, because I feel normal at home and I need to feel normal here as well. I would not be able to live in a state where somebody would humiliate me.
Romana's and Kamila's narratives originated as a reaction to the Danish perception of Eastern Europe. In both narratives Kamila and Romana attempt to draw a boundary according to their lifeworld (Jackson: 1996) and differentiate within the allegedly same identity. Romana tells us where the boundary of Eastern Europe lies. To her Eastern Europe is identical with Russia. Both stories witness a beforehand lost fight of an individual's lifeworld with the lifeworld of the dominant society the émigrés are undergoing. The humiliating and disempowering ascription of East-European identity complicates the émigrés well-functioning within Danish society - it may result in giving up a job (as in Kamilas case) or re-emigration to the Czech Republic (in Romanas case).
East European identity is not - and in the Czech case has never been - self-ascribed. Rather, it exists as an ascribed and as such imposed identity or analytical category. While Czechs during the 90s employed the term Central Europe in order to distance themselves from Russia, socialism etc. and deny any doubts about their Europeanness, Czech émigrés in Denmark were more likely to surrender to the ascribed identity. Becoming East European after the 1989 revolution feels according to the Czech lifeworld as a particularly odd and illogical nonsense. The stigmatisation evokes strong emotional reactions that further complicate the émigrés' function within the Danish society.
The tendency of Czech émigrés towards a strengthened identification with the sending society described in chapter two results in the promotion of a Central European identity we could see in this chapter. This strategy sometimes results in an eventual return of the émigrés. Another plausible strategy Czech émigrés in Denmark implement in order to disconnect themselves from the ascribed East European identity is the desire to become Danes as expressed in their narratives (see chapter two). They undercommunicate their Czechness that becomes limited to their private sphere. The inclusion of the Czech Republic in the European Union opens a possibility of future identification of Czech émigrés as "Europeans," an identity that may hopefully eventually undermine the ascribed East European identity.
Czech women [...] somehow miraculously manage to make their male chauvinist pigs believe that they worship one thing, and one thing alone: them. Which may explain why post-communist Prague has become the home of some thirty thousand young horny and affection-starved American males. And let's face it, boys. Where else do you find a beautifully feminine, gentle, sexy and caring female with a university degree who takes you lovingly into her home, gives you breakfast in bed, irons your shirts, goes off to work smartly dressed, comes home to you cheerful and unaffected by stress, cooks you a dinner, massages you from head to toe, [...] keeps telling you how wonderful you are, and does not want to change you - and manages to be all that on an average income of 200 dollars a month?... (Kuras 1996:10).
Biology is an important factor in our own comprehension of the position held by women (and men), but [...] these may take on a particular cultural meaning and a specific social significance in different societies. The task of the social anthropologist [...] is to analyse how socially significant distinctions are mapped on to basic biological differences, and vice versa (Hastrup 1978:49).
In the following chapter I will analyse gender identity in the context of two generations of Czech female émigrés in Denmark. During my fieldwork my informants mostly in their narratives reflected upon the gender differences between Czech and Danish society they experienced when confronted with Danish gender roles. The Babinec group, where the 90s generation of Czech émigrés meet, was characterized by gender exclusivity - it is entirely formed by women. In the context of migration, gender identity appears as more flexible and open to change and cultural variations than the national identity that I discussed in the previous chapter. Contrary to the national identity, which is institutionalised in form of e.g. citizenship, language or right to vote, gender identity is less fixed. Crossing the boundaries between the regional variations of gender roles is therefore both less apparent and less controversial (one does not have to chose between the sides). Moreover, national identity is constructed as a group affiliation and as such is per definition collective. As we can see in the following paragraph, gender identity, which is based on the person's sex, is on the contrary individual.
The category of gender refers to the condition of being a male or female (Oxford 1995). It is usually defined by pointing out the distinction between sex and gender. While sex refers to the biological difference between men and women, gender describes the social and cultural construction and elaboration of the difference between the two categories in a given culture (e.g. Barnard and Spencer 1996, Rapport and Overing 2000, Moore 1999). The fact that "gender" was defined as a social or cultural aspect of the biological "sex," is itself a manifestation of the nature-culture dichotomy prevailing in European tradition of thinking. The repudiation of sex makes gender a very abstract concept which is difficult to grasp. Judith Butler further problematizes the distinction between gender and sex since "sex itself is a gendered category" (Butler 1990:7). In Butler's interpretation the concept of gender includes "also the discoursive/cultural means by which [...] [sex] is produced and established as "prediscoursive," prior to culture, a politically neutral surface on which culture acts" (Butler 1990:7). In spite of being a category that later turned out to complicate more than solve, "gender" is in the context of transition from socialism still an analytical tool on the right place. Rather than following the philosophy-inspired spiral of abandoning the dissected category only to create a new one, an alternative to me seems to be only the return to Ardener's "problem of women" (Ardener 1978). In his essay Belief and the problem of women (first published in 1972) Ardener pointed out the absence of women's perspective in anthropology so far and turned the attention of the next generation of anthropologists towards "women's worlds" (Eriksen and Nielsen 2001:124).
"If there is something right at Beauvoir's claim that one is not born, but rather becomes a woman, it follows that woman itself is a term in process, a becoming, a constructing that cannot rightfully be said to originate or to end. As an ongoing discursive practice, it is open to intervention and resignification."(Butler 1990:33 quoted in Moore 2001:178).
As Beauvoir notices one has to become a woman. The gender role of woman is potentially anticipating change, and therefore it is easily adaptable. At the same time gender plays a key role in the process of becoming, identity building and structuring of subjectivity. Thanks to its construction as an individual identity, gender identity possesses less potential conflicts in case of migration than the collective-based national identity. As a consequence, gender identity can to a certain extent "follow" the migrating individual.(29) Camino and Krulfeld notice that in the context of migration "gender models, statuses, and behaviours are likely to undergo change" as well as there are "inconsistencies between ideal gender models and the realities of new lives" (Camino and Krulfeld 1994:12-13). Theories of practice point out that gender roles and categories have to be constantly constructed and performed: gender is not "what we are, but what we do and how we act," it is "a discourse that makes one to do what she/he has to do, what is appropriate" (Moore 2001:178). I perceive gender identity as that ever evolving, reflecting, chameleon-like, and still substantial forming quality that emanates through the narratives and acts of Czech émigré women as it is captured in the performed and narrated relations towards Danish men and women.
"Western feminist model of women's emancipation cannot be extended to cover the rest of the world, and it seems that the first step towards a recognition of this fact will necessitate more research which examines the position of women in concrete historical circumstances, and which makes a determined effort to break away from the idea that the trajectory of Western political development will necessarily, and beneficially, be followed elsewhere" (Moore 1989:172-3).
There has been a tendency to perceive women, and especially women that can fit to the category "East - Central European women" as victims of the post-socialistic transition (Buckley 1997:4). Although in recent anthropological works women became increasingly accepted as agents in their own life (Ibid., Demirdirek 2002) the overwhelming stereotypical view, characterized by taking for granted the division of East and West, still often persists. I shall attempt to challenge the stereotypic view of a disinterested observer of the undifferentiated category of Eastern Europe and thus also "East European women." I perceive the category as a cold war residuum which has understandable historical connotations, but has long called for a redefinition. Instead, I should like to enhance the understanding of the position of women in the transitional period, which is characterized by a strange mixture of verbal denial of emancipation and return to the traditional women's virtues while at the same time taking for granted the independently acting and empowered women. In accordance with this outline I attempt to approach Czech émigré women as independent agents, who however act according to their worldview (Löfgren 1981), lifeworld (Jackson 1996:7) and learned gender roles and whose possibilities are determined by, for example, their citizenship. The Czech women that I encountered during my fieldwork do not fit to the stereotypic image of East European women who through various dating agencies desperately search luck in marriage with Danish men. The women in my response group usually met their partner as part of their emancipation as European nationals during holidays, student exchange or work related travels either to a third country or one of the partners' homelands.
Although gender as a concept in anthropology has existed since the 70s, in Czech scientific milieu it is first present from the mid 90s. The understanding of gender roles in contemporary Czech society is best illustrated by the name chosen for a journal aiming to become a place for dialogue between women from the East and West: One eye open. The title refers to the Czech women's perception of (or blindness for) gender issues as well as to the indifference towards gender in the public discourse and policies (Vìšínová-Kalivodová 1998). This is due to the fact that evolution of the "women's question" in former Czechoslovakia went through a different development than in Western Europe. Thanks to the presidents Masaryk's American wife Charlotta,(30) the Czechoslovakian constitution included a paragraph about gender equality already in 1920 (Hlinovská 2003). In the 1930s seven out of ten women were working (Schmidt 2004). Since the end of the Second World War it was normal that women were employed, because the working power was needed. Work was not a privilege the women fought for, but a duty of every Czechoslovak citizen (Scott 1974). During the 60s there was a political interest to educate women in traditional men's professions. At that time Czechoslovakia was in a way ahead of Denmark in the practical arrangements "helping women" - there were kindergartens and nurseries etc. However, Czech society did not go through the phase of feminism as the western societies did in the 70s, and these measures were never internalised. Later in accordance with the division between private and public sphere (Ardener quoted in Eriksen and Nielsen 2001) they were perceived as an intervention in the family from "outside" by the socialistic state. A number of social advantages introduced during the period of normalisation further sustained the special position of women in the Czech society. The ideal of the worker-heroine was exchanged for that of a woman who instead sought employment in a "family friendly," i.e. less demanding, job. During the 90s anything that recalls "emancipation and the like" evokes open associations to the period of socialism. An example of such a connection is the cancelling(31) of the "communistic" International women's day (which most men used to celebrate by getting drunk at the ceremonies organised at the working place, while women received small household utensils from the trade union) and its replacement by the "capitalist" Mother's day. It also illustrates the changing accent on a desirable position of a woman in the liberal Czech society. The ideal of the 90s was either a woman who worked on her own career or took care of the family provided for by her husband in a well paid job. The situation in real life is aptly grasped by Eva Vìšínová-Kalivodová who saw as "the No.1 contradiction of post-socialism" (Vìšínová-Kalivodová 1998:361) the fact that while the majority of Czech women have entered the public sphere of employment, they valued the private sphere of family life higher, which they kept full responsibility for. The Czech transitional society introduced an economic environment (often called "proto-capitalism"(32)) and offered alternative possibilities. As a result it was not very family friendly. Despite raising birth allowances and maternity leave up to three years of the child's age(33), Czech society of the 90s was characterized by rapidly declining birth rates, and a prevailing one child family model (Hlinovská 2003).
As ensues from the previous historical recapitulation, the Czech women who came to Denmark in the late 60s were in some respects better prepared to take a place in a society changed by the feminism debate than their Danish sisters. They might have had specialised education in areas traditionally dominated by men - one of my informants was employed in a building company, while another was the only female farmer far and wide. In Denmark on the other hand it became a norm for women (including the upper class) to be employed only during the late 60s (Andersen 1984). The farms traditionally succeeded to the eldest son and therefore a woman as a farmer was even in the 70s and 80s a rare phenomenon. One of my informants, Boena Kowalski became the first woman in the farmers' associations committee "Landbrugsforeningen." She told me about that:
I had the farm - I was the only woman who had a farm in the surroundings, so it was interesting, and the neighbouring farmers invited me to their farmers association. And then it happened that I - as the first woman in history - got to the associations committee! That was in 1981.
Her coeval Anna Rasmussen made a similar experience:
Denmark was at that time - at the beginning of the 70s going through a building boom - schools, hospitals, everything. And they did not have - as I said I was the only girl in the company [where I worked] who had a technical college degree [i.e. secondary education].
It did not exist here, the other [employees] were either engineers or nothing. Girls from basic schools whom the company sent to the main office in Copenhagen and trained to become draughtsmen. I was something very special here.
Gabriela Schwartz who came to Denmark at the end of the 60s became the first foreigner to study at the faculty of journalism. She says about that:
... I played scrabble with a Danish friend who studied journalism and I won over him at least three times.... He simply couldn't believe that, and encouraged me to apply to study at the journalistic faculty. Since Danish was not my mother tongue I wrote to the rector asking whether it is possible and he answered that I am welcome, but that I will not get the exceptions the Faeroese and Greenlanders get as minorities. ... so I said - I will show them ... and trained all the time .. and passed the first exams. That was in 79. So I was - there wasn't any foreigner studying there before me - so they were almost pampering me...
While the professional careers give evidence of full emancipation of Czech émigré women in the working sphere, their responsibility for the family remained unaffected. Rather than narrating the pursuing of her career, in the following narrative Boena states as her motivation the creation of a home for her children. She justifies her achievements by her concern with the private life and thus dismisses any similarities with the socialistic woman ideal:
I wanted my children to live in the countryside - I grew up on a farm, and although we were poor - we did not have toys etc. it did not mean anything to me, but the experience of the everyday life was important. That grandma was at home when we came from school, that the stove was warm and she had warm lunch ready for us anytime. This was what I wanted to give my children.
For Gabriela Schwartz it is her work that gives her identity, status - almost everything, but it is still her family that gives meaning to her life in the philosophical sense. As she was telling me her life story, she naturally included that of her son. The end of her life story was dedicated to her little granddaughter (see also the beginning of chapter National identity). The Czech émigré women make clear that while work provides the necessary means and fulfilment, it is in the private sphere they find the sense of their life.
The change of gender roles in the private sphere in Denmark is according to Rùena Singer, yet another émigré who lives in Denmark since the 60s, a result of the open public discussion that arose at the same time as women started entering the job market in the 70s. She remarks that such a discussion was not possible in socialistic Czechoslovakia:
"I think that the debate (in Czechoslovakia) was often ideological and one therefore did not take it (seriously)...they always discussed health a lot(34), but not family issues and responsibilities of both..."
With these words she anticipates the crucial topic characterising the 90s generation of Czech women in Denmark - gender roles in the private sphere.
An analysis of the West and East/Central European contacts in the 90s from the gender perspective reveals very interesting results. The mixed couples consist almost exclusively of a Czech woman and a western man, while relations between Czech men and e.g. Danish women only seldom result in a long-term relationship. Drahomíra says about that:
D - It seems to me that thanks to business there are a lot of Danish men here who have Czech wives. Or Danish wives, but they are here.
Lenka - Are there Danish women who have a Czech husband (in Prague)?
D - I do not know any such case (she laughs) I have to admit.
Lenka - How come that it works only one way - that it is always a Czech woman and a Dane, not the other way round?
D - I don't know... maybe the Danish men really miss...I think that a Czech woman can maybe create better "warmth of home," maybe Czech women are not as ambitious and hard as Danish women sometimes are - the last time we were in Denmark - My husband says look at the Danish women - she has a cigarette... how do they talk, how they want to adapt to men ... so maybe some Danes are attracted by gentle Czech ... the warmth ... Czech women ...
Lenka - Then why are Danes attractive?
D - I don't know, I did not choose my husband because he was a Dane, but because of what he is like (because of his personal qualities)... maybe Czech women might be attracted by an extraordinary life.
The richness of my fieldwork material about Czech women compared with the scarcity of the same data about Czech men is an argument in itself. This observation I made is supported by both the Czech statistics of marriages among Czech and foreign citizens and Danish numbers of marriages among Danish and foreign citizens. These one-sided relations are influenced by the separate evolution of gender issues in both countries. The difference between Czech and Danish constructions of gender identity and worldview resulted in a limited compatibility of men's and women's roles in the context of inter-cultural relations. The interaction between Czech and Danish men and women is confined by mutual expectations towards the others' gender identity. The obvious conclusion is that while Danish (or Western) men generally get very well along with the "feministically underdeveloped" women from the "other Europe," western women only seldom marry the Czech men.
In her research on migration Colson, notices that refugee and migrant women "are less conscious of status deprivation associated with the failure to find positions comparable to those they left" (than men) (Colson 1991:9 quoted in Buijs 1993:5). Colson stresses the positive influence of housekeeping as the everyday activity structuring life both before and after migration.
The starting point of Czech and Danish women regarding their position in the respective society is different. Danish women are in Danish society treated as individuals who can rely on the welfare state as the provider of a safety net in case of economic need. The Czech social system generally both plays a minor role and builds more on the household (family) rather than on an individual basis. The position of Czech women is habitually more dependent on the husbands' (or alternatively their parents') ability to provide for the family. My observations reveal the following paradox: although Czech women act in fact in a rather independent and emancipated way, they do so in frames traditionally defined as gender appropriate. Thus following her Danish husband is both in accordance with the traditional woman's role as mother and an independently acting woman. Moreover, they verbalise their actions in the feminine appropriate mode of expression. As we shall see this tendency to stress their femininity is stronger in case of the 90s generation of Czech émigrés.
My study reveals the cultural/social gender differences between Czech and Danish women that my informants were not aware of prior to their arrival to Denmark. It shows how gender identity of Czech émigré women is constructed. In their narratives they describe the differences between Czech and Danish gender roles and gender worldviews they met and to a certain extent also adopted.
The role of a woman - Femininity versus Feminism
In their interviews my female informants often identified themselves with qualities described as feminine, gentle, fragile or delicate and stressed their understanding of the woman's role as more passive compared with both men and Danish women. In her article "Damsels in distress: Performing femininities," the American feminist Lynn Felmann sees similar feminine qualities of her female students as the reason stopping them from being able to act. She sees them as "lacking the powerful, transformative desire to open the figurative door by themselves and for themselves" (Felmann 2001:199). The Czech émigré women met love as the transformative desire Felmann talks about. The paradox of Felmanns thesis in their case is that while love might be a transformative desire par excellence, following it does not steer away from the gender appropriate frames that my informants characterized as feminine. In their narratives Czech émigré women stress their femininity. On an imagined scale between the two dichotomies femininity - feminism they place themselves on the opposite side than Danish women. The following example, where Kvìta describes Danish women as "super-women," very aptly shows the position of a Czech woman she identifies with in the perspective of the interplay of relations:
Relations between men and women (in Denmark) are definitely totally different than in the Czech Republic. I think that women are much more dominant here than they are in Czechia, concerning free time and upbringing of children generally, or holidays etc. I think that in Denmark emancipation is really somewhere else. And maybe even too much, too much. Because men take women as partners, they do not - open doors for them and help them with a heavy bag. I miss that a bit. Because in Denmark they expect that a woman can manage everything. They are really it seems to me super-women. They work in fact from the beginning (i.e. after giving birth), here a woman who takes care of a child is rather exotic.
Kamila sees the vanishing of differences between men and women as potentially dangerous. She refers to a tv-program about violent teenage girls she saw shortly before our interview:
I think that we are still brought up in the way that a woman is fragile and delicate, that she shouldn't.... (e.g. drink from the bottle and smoke on the street). I was in shock from it. I think that there is a big difference in that. They explained that this phenomenon exists in Denmark because the difference between a man and a woman is vanishing. That women have the same jobs as men and they are brought up to be equal etc. what men do they can do also, so it is no wonder that when 15 year old boys do that, so girls can as well. ... It seems to me that we are not brought up that way in the Czech Republic. Or at least we weren't brought up that way.
The result of gender specific upbringing of Czech women Kamila referred to in the previous example is fully obvious in the inter-cultural encounter of young Czech women and Danish men, she describes in the following story:
In Denmark a girl calls the boy and asks him for a date. It seems to me that we wouldn't do it. At my wedding I introduced some Danes to my Czech girl-friends, and the boys were later telling me: "I gave her my number." And I was telling him: "You need her number, because a girl would never call you." And exactly that happened. I was talking to the girls about it, and they said: "I would never call him." It is because the boys are used to it so they assume that when they give her a number, the girl will call.
The previous phone-number story (and other stories) where the woman takes up the passive role, is however in contrast with what Regina told me during our interview. It was she who initiated the contact with her future husband. Also Kateřina mentioned her active role at the stage when their friendship evolved into a relationship. This discrepancy only makes us aware of the fact that it might vary how Czech men and women were brought up and what role they have in the respective family according to, for example, class or desired status affiliation.(35) Nevertheless, the narratives witness certain tendencies prevailing in the Czech and Danish societies and testify that Czech women were generally brought up to a different mode of gender appropriate behaviour than Danish women.(36) The attitudes and gender worldviews of the Czech émigrés can be potentially altered or transformed during their interaction with the surrounding Danish society which constitutes the new framework of their "lifeworld" (Jackson 1996:6).
The gender adaptation
Drahomira, who after a couple of years in Denmark moved with her family back to the Czech Republic, captured the changes in her attitudes as follows:
Maybe - you asked about the difference, I have in fact learned in Denmark... I really liked that you can go everywhere with children, that they have small chairs for children and playgrounds and (the environment) is everywhere adjusted to children, nobody stares at you, that was something I really liked, because here the Czech women have it so - a small child or a baby should not go anywhere. It can be in a park or at home with its mother. That was something that I really liked that in Denmark people take their children to restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, everywhere. ....
Lenka - So you try to go out with children because you were used to do so in Denmark.
D - Yeah, we are going... I have to say that people look strangely at us. I would not take them to a pub where there is smoke, but we go out to restaurants with them and to Christmas mass in the church and I think that it is right to do so....it is changing slowly here as well...
D - Here with the children, I still observe that a woman goes to a park for two hours and then she has to run back home to cook a warm dinner for the baby. I have learned a lot in Denmark to prepare cold lunch, and it is in fact healthier when I think of it, because they eat dark bread and open sandwiches, they give it to children and it seems perfect to me.
Lenka - So you accepted that.
D - You can breastfeed anywhere in Denmark
Lenka - You mean in public?
D - Yeah, in public, it suited me well because I am a social person, I never wanted to be - of course after the birth and I don't know maybe the first ten days, but then I wanted to go outside, it perfectly suited me that I went to a cafe and could breastfeed and nobody would look at me...
Drahomira perceives the Danish habits as more progressive and describes how they spread slowly in the Czech Republic. She perceives herself as an active agent in the change in society. As we can see in the following paragraph the Czech émigré women who live in Denmark are often much less enthusiastic about their position in the surrounding society.
The initial barriers between Danish and Czech émigré women
In this paragraph I concentrate on Interaction between Danish and Czech women and at the same time turn away from gender as analytical approach. My informants who came to Denmark in the 90s experience a distance between themselves and Danish women that they were not prepared for and interpret it as a within-gender difference. Although Czech émigré women narrate their identity as more traditionally feminine than Danish women, the gender distance is more a question of interpretation than of practise. My material suggests that Czech women do not experience close relations to Danish women of similar age due to other reasons: 1) language barrier, since they cannot from the beginning speak Danish and 2) Danish Nordic mentality and different cultural background combined with distance towards foreigners. Drahomíra describes the obstacles connected with getting accepted by a group provided one is a foreigner and does not speak the language:
... in the respective quarters where you live they organise meetings for mothers - the nurse who visited me gave me an address and said - there they meet every Tuesday, seven mothers with babies of the same age, so you can go there - I went there a couple of times, but it was nothing for me - again it was these a little bit distant Danish women who, as soon as they saw a foreigner, did not behave openly to me - I was a kind of black sheep there, so I stopped going there. When I worked in the bank, the young girls who were cleaning there did not want to accept me among themselves. ... A foreigner, who cannot speak Danish, nothing. So when we had lunch I was sitting behind the table on my own, only then one of them, who was herself half - Danish came to me and started talking to me, otherwise ...they thumbed their nose at me.
Kamila talks about her troubles making friends:
I still feel that people are nice to me or so, but although they did not know each other before, they form friendships among themselves - they are a bit - they are polite to me, but that I would form a friendship - I get acquaintances, but not friends.
In the following text Kvìta, who mingles mostly with the international community, attempts to compare the Danish and the Czech mentalities. She contrasts Czech spontaneity with Danish sense for planning, self control and appropriate behaviour:
I do not understand their (the Danish) mentality after all these years, I simply still do not understand them. I do not understand why they react in a certain situation in this or that way, or what do they in fact think. I in fact still do not understand them, although I am anxious to do so. But I feel that I do not understand them. They have a totally different humour. What they think is funny we do not consider to be so ....and the other way round. I think that humour(37) is much more widespread in Czechia, or more spontaneous, that people enjoy it more, it seems to me that in Denmark people enjoy themselves because it is Saturday evening and they are supposed to do so. That they do not enjoy themselves Tuesday evening, because they do that only on Saturdays. It seems so to me. On the other hand they behave better towards each other, because they have learned to behave in that way. Since they were little they have known that in certain situation they behave in such or another way. I don't know, I think that in Czechia people are more spontaneous - generally. In certain situations they are, for example, more aggressive. In other situations they are on the other hand more open. But we understand them. We know why the person acts in a certain way, when somebody pushes you, or when an old woman shouts at you - you understand her - she is simply upset. This won't happen to you in Denmark. But you know that people have it inside them anyway, so at times I do not know what to think of it. That people smile at you, but think whatever else...
The focus group I organised attempted to explain the distance between Czech and Danish women in terms of competition:
Kamila - They (the Danish women) feel that we take their space - instead of me my husband could have married a Danish woman who could have had the interesting job that I have...
Hana - I feel that she (my Danish girl friend) is more interested in being a friend with my husband than with me ...
The focus group also contrasted their often rather superficial relations to Danish women with the positive attitude they meet from Danish men.
Kamila - I got most work offers from men. It seems to me that it is easier with men.
Hana - I think so.
Kamila - (Danish) men do not have so many prejudices...when I was employed boys were talking to me and it was interesting, while (Danish) girls look down on me.
While Czech women expect a high degree of similarity among themselves and Danish women, they only find out that this was an illusion. They are, on the other hand prepared to expect differences between women and men. Although Czech women in their narratives describe differences between the Czech and Danish way of being a woman, they do not themselves see the consequences these should have for their relations with Danish women. As we could see, from the global perspective the discrepancies between the Czech and Danish women role are in fact not essential. My writing group(38) that consists of young Danish women could, for example, easily identify with the contrast between how a young woman is treated by other women and men respectively, which suggests that it is not specific to national affiliation, but rather valid in general. Czech émigré women in their narratives emphasise the differences between Czech and Danish way of being a woman as a consequence of missing close relations to Danish women.
The newly married and relocated women go through an initial period when they seek friendship with Czech or other emigrant women they understand as culturally close. Gabriela Schmidt talked about missing a soul-mate after she moved to Denmark, in a way she was happy that the Czech refugees came to Denmark in 1969. In the meantime she had a Russian friend who lived nearby. The same says Drahomíra 30 years later:
I often contacted Eva that I became friends with when I moved to Denmark. She helped me a lot at the beginning. ... then I had international friends in the language school where I became friends with a Polish girl.
Babinec as an informal network functioned during an initial period in the new country when the young newly-wed women needed other friends. Its formation was also helped by the Danish habit to go out with friends of the same sex only. While men go out with, for example, their football friends the young Czech wives find a social group among other Czech women.
Men with prams
I will now concentrate on gender relations in the private sphere and the Interaction between Danish men and Czech women. I asked my informants whether they see any difference between the role of men and women in Czech and Danish society. In the comparison they see Danish reality through the prism of more traditional Czech gender relations. Czech women who came to Denmark in the 90s were often astonished by the publicly displayed role of Danish men as fathers. Kamila describes her impression:
I think that a big difference is that when one walks on the street here (in Denmark) you can see men with prams. During the day. You would seldom see that in Czechia...
Drahomíra told me how her Czech girl-friends make fun of her Danish husband when he fulfils a role they ascribe to the mother only:
... The approach to children is totally different. I can see that because I have a lot of girlfriends with children, and when they visit us with their Czech men, of course there are exceptions, in the culture but ... they do not see it, only sometimes and then they make fun of my husband, that he is the mum or something in that way - but I really like that.
From the stereotypic picture of a Czech macho man she portrays, it is clear that she is very content with having a Danish husband. She contrasts the Czech man who bosses the woman that there is work to be done, with the picture of Danish men with prams in a public park who themselves take an active part in the child care.
It seems to me that here (in the Czech Republic) men are like this - from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at work, comes home, opens a beer, turns on TV, unfortunately it is the majority of the population it seems to me. I think Danes and foreigners generally have a different approach to children. Jesus, what I really liked in Denmark was that when I went to a park during a weekend there were five men with prams. I do not see that here. Or still the (she imitates men's voice:) "Mother, change the baby!" That men cannot themselves look after... My husband was present at both childbirths and slept in the maternity hospital with me and looks after them perfectly. Now he works a lot so it is not the same, but when I travelled for a week I knew that he could take care of the baby.
As follows from the examples, it is the women's responsibility for the private sphere and family in everyday life that makes them perceive it as an advantage to have a Danish husband. In the following story about "a mistake" she made in a project for her Danish classes Kamila gives us an impression of the role housework has in both cultures:
When I went to Danish classes I once wrote a project - why Danes marry foreigners, and I mentioned that: Danish women do not do as much "women's work" as in other countries, e.g. the Czech Republic. And the teacher corrected me - there is no "women's work" in Denmark. It doesn't exist. It is housework and it is to be conducted equally. But I still think that many men marry women from other and not so emancipated countries, because they are the men who want to be looked after.
In her attempt to explain the uneven distribution of marriages she points out one aspect (housework) of the relations between western men and women from non-western cultures. The complementarity (or incompatibility) of the learned gender roles is an important factor enabling the long term relations between Czech women and Danish men (contrary to the relations of Czech men and Danish women). Division of housework might be the most obvious aspect, a more subtle demonstration of the same learned roles is the willingness of a woman to give up her job in favour of her husbands (he earns more) and consequently move to where he earns a living.
The expected economic inactivity for some part of her life (while taking care of children) explains why it is important for a Czech woman to "marry up." The choice of an economically stronger Danish partner at the end presents a challenge for the Czech émigré women. They have to adjust to the new society where the position of a woman is dependent mostly on her own position at work. How they find their place in Danish society is to a large degree dependent on the surrounding society and its openness and acceptance of work experience in their country of origin. The necessary condition for allowing the women to keep their economic independence on their husband is among other an acceptance of their education by the Danish authorities.
The Danish job market and acceptance of Czech education
At the base of the modern social order stands not the executioner but the professor. Not the guillotine, but the (aptly named) doctor d`état is the main tool and symbol of state power. The monopoly of legitimate education is now more important, more central than is the monopoly of legitimate violence. (Gellner 1997:66)
The possibilities of my informants to work in Denmark are given by 1) their knowledge of languages, 2) qualifications and 3) the ability to gain both. However the second is undermined by the fact that contrary to the 60s generation émigrés, the education of Czech women who marry Danish men in the 90s is often not recognised in Denmark. Tereza, one of the women who left Denmark after my fieldwork was over, describes her initial disappointment:
My first impression from Denmark. I was full of enthusiasm. I thought that as a nurse(39) I would have chances here, with my German. My husband ensured me that I could communicate with everybody using German. I lived with that and it turned out to be a big illusion. They did not recognise my school leaving exams, and nobody speaks German here. Or maybe they can, but they do not want to. So after half a year waiting for the registration number (CPR number) I was just plodding around here and when I finally received it I started with Danish classes. And I have been doing that ever since.
The integration of my informants into the Danish job market varies a lot. Although the majority of the women faced unexpected problems recognising their qualification, they usually adjust to the Danish working market after adopting the Danish standards. There are also some Czech women who have a rather good career in Denmark. They would not always meet in Babinec though.(40) The job market was not itself the main concern of my fieldwork.(41) I collected data about the acceptance of Czech education or their previous job experience in Denmark, since they form an essential part of the migrants' life-history. Having a job outside the family plays an essential role in both the power position of the woman in the private sphere as well as her relation to the new country.
Czech émigré women that came to Denmark both in the 60s and 90s share a similar lifeworld and corresponding worldview: they perceive work as a necessity and private life as a goal. Although the 60s generation of Czech women was (thanks to their education) better prepared to take a role in the Danish emancipated society than Danish women, their narratives witness their traditional understanding of the women's role in the private sphere.
Czech women who came to Denmark in the 90s strongly verbalise their femininity, while acting as independent and emancipated women. In their lifeworld the importance of the private sphere took over the public one. My empirical material shows that gender identity (of my study group) consists of paradoxes. The very fact that they marry a foreigner is a result of the independently acting woman combined with the enhanced role the private sphere has in their lifeworld. As a result of experiencing close and intimate relations with Danish men together with polite distance of Danish women, Czech women who came to Denmark in the 90s perceive an intra-gender difference towards Danish women.
Czech émigré women from the 60s generation, who lived in Denmark during the feminism debate, experience a gender clash when meeting their coevals in the Czech Republic. This is not the case for the women from the Babinec generation who returned to the Czech Republic during the 90s.
The Grill day organised by DCA
While we were arranging food on the wooden tables a small talk in Czech was going on - its topic was the experience of being pioneers. I sharpened my hearing. One of the Czech émigrés talked about how in the 50s she had to hide her pioneer scarf under a big stone on the way to school, because at school she had to have the scarf tied around her neck, while at home she was not to be seen with one. She also wondered about the unpredictability of the system and talked about how she as a kid went to a summer camp where they were together with children from Spain. Her stories were something incredible for people who experienced being pioneers in the 80s when pioneer symbols emptied of any obvious meaning had no place in everyday school life and the chances of meeting a real westerner were, due to the existence of the iron curtain, close to an encounter with an extraterrestrial. A question whether we still have the pioneer scarf hidden somewhere came up as well. At this point I gave up the role of an observer and had to participate in the discussion.
When everything necessary for the picnic was arranged, we sat down around the grill place, consumed some obligatory sausages and the children went of to play in the nearby forest. Honza, who only recently moved to Denmark together with his family, started to play his guitar.
As he played a mixture of various songs the audience divided: into those people who knew the songs and sang along, those who understood, and those who just listened. The traditional country songs and the old evergreens from the 60s were mostly remembered by all Czech émigrés, while the newer so called folk songs(42) guaranteed that only the younger generation followed. Both national and generational identity emanated through the songs. Klára later wrote about the event in the association's magazine: "We sang anything that came to our minds.... and were astonished to find out how we could suddenly remember songs that we neither heard nor sung in the last 10-20 years."
...modes of narration are seen as determining collective modes of perception, of the encoding of information, and of its remembrance and recall; in sharing the knowledge to produce and read narratives in a particular way, members of a cultural group will share ways of thinking about, of framing, schematizing, and memorizing, experience ... (Werbner 1991 quoted in Rapport and Overing 2000:288).
In this chapter I analyse and compare life histories and narratives of the two generations of Czech émigrés in Denmark. The term Generation usually refers to an "age group," i.e. people born approximately at the same time and relates to "the relative position of persons within a genealogy" (Seymour-Smith 1996). The two generations of Czech émigrés in Denmark not only correspond to the age groups (i.e. they could be parents and children to each other), they also occupy a relative position within a genealogy of migration. The two generations thus at the same time constitute "two waves" of migration. I will examine their narratives. A narrative is commonly defined as "a spoken or written account of events, a story" (OALD 1995). In the anthropological context it is understood as "[a] primary embodiment [...] of our understanding of the world, of experience, and ultimately of ourselves. [...] It is in and through various forms of narrative emplotment that our lives - [...] our very selves - attain meaning" (Kerby 1991 quoted in Rapport and Overing 2000:285).
The stories individuals tell, are influenced and formed by their socio-cultural situation (and by other stories in circulation), while they are at the same time forming their socio-cultural milieu (and inspiring other stories). The same is the case of, for example, the genre of expression or style of the story. In her article "Theorizing Latvian lives: the quest for identity," Vieda Skultans asserted that the similarities between her informants' life histories derive (apart from history) "from membership of a symbolic and textual community" (Skultans 1997:761). In the following text I focus on the existence of such a textual community as it emanates from the narratives of the two generations of Czech émigrés in Denmark. I extend Skultan's argument and show that such similarities can be traced in another narrative form, where the role of historical analogies is marginal. In my comparison I pay attention to two forms of narratives: 1) temporary structured life histories and 2) thematically structured dominant "narrative themes" introduced by Rapport (Rapport quoted in Mortensen 1999:17). While in the case of the 60s generation of Czech émigrés I will analyse their life histories, in the case of the 90s generation I will bring examples of the thematically structured dominant narratives. By dominant narratives I mean stories about the teller's unique life experience that have the same themes and structures and are repeatedly told by individuals in a given social context at a certain time. Edwin Ardener sees women as "a muted group not in the sense that they were not permitted to speak, but in the sense that their statements were generally not framed in terms that were easily transferred to fieldnotes" (Ardener quoted in Eriksen and Nielsen 2001:124). While the life histories of "Babinec" often do not include a transpersonal dimension, it is incorporated in their thematic narratives. I will write more about that in the second part of the chapter. First let me focus on the 60s generation and their life histories.
The life histories of the 60s generation of Czech émigrés are powerful and elaborated stories. They are narrated in a historical and political context and often include the theme of suffering and injustice brought about by the communists. In interpreting their life the storytellers occupy a "victim/hero" position (e.g. Borneman 1992, Skultans 1997). They attempt to give meaning to their disrupted lives as well as explain and justify their decision to emigrate by relating to a dimension exceeding the individual. Their life-histories have at the same time a "testimonial status," they are "testimonies where the authors self-consciously attribute a historical significance to the personal past and offer their experience as speaking for many others" (Gergen in Skultans 1997:761).
The stories of persecution my informants told me are closely connected to their escape from the regime (the push factor). Such stories were told by people who escaped from Czechoslovakia both before and after the Soviet occupation in 1968 and even by married women. This is partly due to the character of prosecution in socialistic Czechoslovakia. In their life-histories my informants talked about two main areas of discrimination: 1) denial of the individual's access to education and 2) the general persecution of the individual's family. Ernest Gellner identifies "access to education" as one of the crucial factors(43) making a modern society, which is in his interpretation more substantial than the "monopoly of legitimate violence" (Gellner 1983:34). As we can see from the following examples told by Zora Rovná and Václav Baum, both topics are interconnected. The denial of education was a very effective tool of oppression against the "politically unsuitable" family the child came from. The life-histories of my informants witness that both denial of access to education and job as well as, for example, deprivation of property and imprisonment were very effective devices used in socialistic Czechoslovakia in order to control the society and eliminate the former elite. The family-oriented subjugation made it at the same time difficult for the individual family members to fit into the political refugee criteria codified by the Geneva conventions, which are based on individual political oppression.
Denial of access to education
On her 50th birthday Zora Rovná published a book including her life-story, which she referred to during our interview:
I have always wanted to be an artist. My maternal grandfather, who was a very talented painter, supported my dream. Even though he was very poor at the time, he provided me with paint and my first valuable painting class. Having studied at Prague's art school I tried to obtain admittance to the art academy in order to study under a particular professor whom I still greatly admire. The admittance exam was extremely difficult, and I didn't succeed in my first attempt. But Professor Sklenář noticed me and offered me the opportunity of consulting him the following year, so that I could try once more. The second time I succeeded, and the professor congratulated me, telling me how well I had managed and how much he was looking forward to having me join his class with all his other students after the summer vacation. I was so happy and proud! My dream was unfolding. But my joy only lasted 10 days. I received a letter from the academy explaining that I still weren't admitted. Naturally, I went straight to my professor, trusting that this was just a misunderstanding - a simple mistake. The professor was embarrassed, and didn't know what to say. Finally he explained that the ministry had checked all the new students' personal data, and that mine revealed that I had never been a member of the Communist Party, that my grandmother had been a capitalist prior to the communist take-over, and that my brother had escaped to the West in 1968 - all of which proved me unqualified.
The very publication of her life-history proves that the life-histories of 60s generation are well established narratives that already have their own life. Although both following aspects are inevitably interlocked, my impression is, that my informants' stories of prosecution by the communistic regime as I present them here, rather than being "framed after other model stories"(Skultans 1997:761) were the models that inspired the framing of others' stories (see paragraph on 90s generation later in this chapter). Their life-histories however build on the tradition of the Central European narrative milieu, known from the literature of Kafka and Hašek's good soldier Švejk (Gotaas 1992), a tradition which was itself enriched and empowered by both authors' literary works. Zora Rovná's narrative centres around the interference of her personal interests with those of the totalitarian state. It is an example of the individual (though family related) prosecution in the key sphere of education described by Gellner (Gellner 1983:34). In Zora's life-history we can sense the powerless individual of the Kafka literary tradition, whose destiny is decided by the omnipotent system. But contrary to Kafka, according to Zora's interpretation the system itself had intelligible and clear rules. My hypothesis is that either 1) contrary to the first decades of socialistic Czechoslovakia, the rules of the first half of the 70s when Zora's story took place, were intelligible or 2) the rules are an after-rationalised construction that surface in the written narrative, where coherence took over and covered the accidental. This is not so in the case of the next two examples that I recorded during the interviews.
In the following life-history, Václav Baum presented me with a coherent narrative, while he at the same time managed to describe "the crazy logic" (see also Wang 2004:65) of the system. Despite describing harsh moments in his life, he used a light humoristic tone - his narrative is a perfect example of "the satiric-lapsarian emplotment" (Borneman 1992:79). In order to "confer a literary autonomy upon the narrative" (Skultans 1997:765), Václav employed the very best of the Central European satiric tradition of the good soldier Švejk as well as the cold powerlessness of Kafka's heroes (Gotaas 1992). His laugh that occasionally might not seem at place nevertheless reveals the unpleasant and painful experience that he wrapped up in jokes:
As I told you, I took A-levels, I was very lucky that I got into high school at all, because in the 50s it was such a - the period under the communists, it was not all the time the same, it was changing. The beginning of the 50s that's when the communists primarily fought among themselves and so they forgot us in a way. My problem was that my father during the First Republic and also after the war had his own business, he was a building contractor, he had a company that was later nationalised and he was imprisoned (he laughs). And that is why we were not in a very good situation. The same year I finished basic school, it was eight years at that time, we had some kind of reform, they shortened the basic school because they needed working power...
So I started at high school, they accepted me, I do not know how but they failed to notice me, they accepted many with a bad descent, then it was called a cadre descent(44). In 1955 I started at high school, and finished it, I took A-levels in 1958 and it was such a comical situation, or comical, well. There were about 38 of us in the class, and only one girl of working class descent (he laughs). They urged her all the time to go to the university. But she did not really care, and they were talking her over and over to go to the university and I do not know - at the end she either went there and quit immediately or she did not go there at all. The top pupil in our class who had only good marks, never had anything else than A, went and learned to become an electrician (he laughs).
I personally also had good results, I did not have only A grades, but I passed with honours, it was such a - a week before the final exams the director came and told me - no she did not even come - she stopped me in the hallway and said:" you know, we cannot recommend you for further studies - so you have to find something to get closer to the working class" or something in that sense. And such news I got a week before the final exams. And the friend of mine as well. That they won't recommend him to the university. And that was it - it depended on whether they will or will not recommend you. If they did not, then you couldn't go anywhere. That was the end. So he studied to become an electrician and I worked at a building site. And at the time because life was very defined, we weren't even 17 when we finished high school, we were very young, and the life was so laid out for you, there was not - as we talked about it - there was not space to invent something or change some decision. So I worked for a year and I needed a recommendation from work again to the university. The cadre section was supposed to give one a recommendation that one became closer to the working class and worked well etc. - I thought that I did work well so after a year I went to the cadre section, and she told me: "Comrade, you were here for too short time, we do not know you yet (he laughs). What she meant was that they were not sure yet whether I am not just pretending that I became close to the working class. But I became close as a nincompoop, since I was half of what I am today, I was a tiny thin line and the work in building industry at that time, it was a hard work. There was no mechanisation in the 50s, pulling sacks of cement on the scaffolding, it was drudgery. But I got used to it, after all I was young and a young man gets used to everything. So I worked there one more year. The most common means of mechanisation at that time was called "PS 30 G." Pickaxe, shovel and 30 gypsies (he laughs)
So I worked one more year and I was quite lucky, because I worked on a project in Prague for half a year, that was fine for such a young man to be in Prague and earn money, and then I even went to the Soviet Union (he laughs). That was also interesting. So I went there (to the cadre section) after two years whether they will recommend me, and they didn't the beasts. And it was - I was supposed to go to the army and - as soon as one went to the army, and then two years in the army, it was the end, setting up family, the life was simply behind you. At the time it turned out that the party and the government decided that there were not enough teachers and suddenly about ten pedagogical institutes were opened throughout the republic. But they did not have - there was not enough interest in them. So they filled it up with such existences like me. People whom they did not want anywhere else, or whom they did not let (study), people who were thrown out from other universities. So I went to the pedagogical institute in ...(town name). They needed us there so it worked out. Suddenly it did not matter that I had a bad cadre descent, although one would say that it is rather important for a teacher to be loyal to the party, but they did not take it that way. They were short of teachers, and that was it.
There is an in-built ambiguity in the narrative. The main character of the narrative is neither purely victim nor only hero. The flexibility, (see chapter two) manifests itself in the double victim/hero position. Although Václav attempts to describe the "crazy logic" of the system, this ambiguity means that his narrative at the same time contains elements of another narrative theme that I characterise as "how did I trick the system." I will return to this theme at the end of the next paragraph (see Rùenas story about the wooden doll), that focuses on the "family narratives."
Narratives of family persecution
The "family's life-history" might fulfil similar functions as the individual life-history: it testifies to the "legitimate violence" (Gellner 1983:34) executed by the state(45) upon the family and explains the migration. This is the case of Rùena Singers narratives that she re-tells in the following examples. For her it was the victim/hero narratives circulating within her family, which formed the reference frame of her socio-cultural milieu:
My (Danish) brother-in-law was ... when he in 1949 came to Czechoslovakia to see his daughter who was just born in Prague, they arrested him on the borders... in České Budìjovice as a spy ... on his way to Switzerland where he was studying... only two weeks later they informed my sister to come to Budìjovice and pay a bail for him. It was rather dangerous at that time ... he was a Dane and they accused him of smuggling some Czech clothes...although the Danish ambassador helped to get him out he told him to leave because there were some arrest orders on him. So my brother-in-law did not visit Czechoslovakia until 1962... we wrote to each other and sent packages.
The unpredictability, the Danish ambassador warned against, coexists in Rùenas narrative together with a political and historical "logic," that creates a coherent frame around her parents' life-history:
I had parents who were - daddy was a big patriot and he couldn't imagine he'd move here (to Denmark) although he was a professor of Germanistic and an older man who due to his affiliation to Sokol and Tomáš Garigue Masaryk(46) ... he was removed from his high school (Gymnázium) in 1948. They forced him to retire, that meant 400 crowns at that time (per month) and I was newly-born, so it was a bit...he worked with bricklayers, first in the office, and then from the 1950s purely manual work until he was 76 and died. He got up at 4 a.m. etc. but in his way he was young, he belonged there, it was very important for him that we were in the Czech Lands. Sometimes we say that it is a pity that we did not come here (to Denmark) earlier because it would have been much easier here - he would have had an easier life here than getting up every morning at 4 a.m. and going to work in Vysočany (Prague working quarter) but on the other hand...
... he died in 1966 and mum stayed (in Czechoslovakia), she was working in the Ministry of Social Affairs as an accountant .. she managed to ...thanks to the détente at the beginning of the 60s, those who previously had problems could get a better job at that time - she had worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Embassy in Bulgaria before the war ... and in 1948...she was a civil servant and there was a longer period when she was not allowed to work on this position...
There is a glimpse of light even in those murky narratives. In the previous life-history Václav described the unpredictability of the system in fact as the crazy "logic" of the system. The system is in the narratives presented as a challenge. If one found out how it works (that is what Kafka's hero in The Castle wanted to do), it could be - with some luck - outsmarted in the good old Švejk way. We can see elements of this narrative theme, "How did I trick the system," in the following story where Rùena Singer describes how her sister managed to send a forbidden piece of wool:
At that time it was a big thing to get a packet from Denmark with chocolate and other things we could not get otherwise... when our authorities really wanted to annoy us, they opened the packets and punctured everything - it got all mixed into one so we received a parcel where there was everything mixed - from rice to cocoa. I also remember the happiness before Christmas that something came ...and on the other hand to see such an unnecessary brutality... That happened often. ....My sister knitted a sweater for daddy and gave it to him when he was here (in Denmark on a visit) and there was a part missing, so she sent the piece and it returned back to her, because it was not allowed to send wool, so at the end she got an idea - and knitted a doll to me from the piece of wool and sent it as a dressed doll (she laughs). One remembers such small details, how the world was probably a bit more complicated than it is now.
Not all émigrés of this generation were persecuted prior to their migration though.(47) Neither were all Czechs. As a consequence the narrative theme "How did I trick the system," co-existed in the Czech post-socialistic discourse together with the theme of persecution. By including elements of a narrative theme that a majority of the population can identify with in their life-histories the tellers confirm their membership in the "symbolic and textual community" (Skultans 1997:761).
The aspect of victimisation and suffering does not at all appear in the 90s generation life-histories. The inflation of the victim and suffering stories during the 90s Czech Republic meant that such stories became a way to ensure the listeners that the storyteller has nothing to do with communists and consequently as they were told by many they became too banal.
There are more reasons why the life-histories of young Czech women do not at all contain socialism: 1) they experienced the end of socialism, i.e. the perestrojka-influenced 80s that bore signs of the immanent collapse of the regime, 2) they were children then and 3) as women they were oriented towards the private sphere (see chapter four) which represented the fortress of resistance. I further elaborate on these points in the next paragraphs.
The fragments of memories about socialism
In his study of two generations of Berliners John Borneman (Borneman 1992) describes the different perspective from which the adults and children talk about their experiences of the end of the Second World War. The stories of Borneman's Generation I (born between 1910 and 1935) are constructed in the same way as the life-histories of my 60s generation -"victimisation" and "suffering" form an important plot in the stories. Such perspectives are not at all present in the stories of Borneman's Generation II (born between 1940 and 1955), whose members experienced the same period as children. The perspective of my 90s generation Czech émigrés shows a similar pattern. From a child's perspective socialism was a normal period of life as any other. Only due to the small details that my informants once noticed, are they able to recognise in retrospective that something actually did not fit. Livie returned to the topic of socialism on our way to the kindergarten, after the interview was over:
"I did not know that there was anything wrong with the system, everybody was a pioneer. The only disturbing thing were the letters my father kept receiving from his friend living abroad, that were always already opened when they came."
The majority of the 90s generation Czech émigrés were born in the 70s, during so called(48) This era was characterized by the full control of the communist state over the public sphere with no place for differences or different opinions. The generation that grew up in the system took it for granted. It was difficult if not impossible for a child to "uncover" the "double life" some adults have experienced. The usual strategy of their parents was to hide the problematic truths from their children, since they could have said something somewhere in an unsuitable situation (e.g. Gotaas 1992). The pioneer and SSM (the socialistic youth union) became "routinely accepted in the lives of young people as were the schools" (Borneman 1992:163).
A "muted" group?
As I have previously remarked, the life histories of 90s generation Czech émigré women are not narrated on a transpersonal level. Edwin Ardener already in the 70s observed that women express themselves in a way which is not as articulate as men's way of expression. Women's voices were missing in the anthropological studies. As a consequence Ardener called women a "muted group" (Ardener 1989). Although the women's way of expression may differ and be less articulate, a message can be heard only if one pays attention to the voice. In the following text I ask together with Ardener: "How do the Czech émigré women express themselves?" During my fieldwork I often witnessed Czech émigré women talking about cooking with each other. I realised only later that I was myself included and took part in the kitchen-discourse.(49) Exchanging recipes and cooking experience is an example of a legitimate gender specific way of approaching other Czech women. It is an example of communication in ritualistic and largely impersonal "public language" or "restricted code,"(50) which is "establishing and reinforcing the normative arrangements and relations of a social group" (Bernstein 1964,1972 quoted in Rapport and Overing 2000). The use of such "restricted code" influenced the structure of the dominant narratives.
Dominant narratives of Babinec network
"The process of narrative articulation both distances the narrator from the original experience and creates semantic links with other texts" (Skultans 1997:776).
The dominant narrative themes were continuously reappearing at the Babinec meetings and consequently also dominated the individual life-histories in the interviews. Narratives generally allow the storyteller to make sense of his/her life experience "in terms of pre-existing categories" (Rapport and Overing 2000: 288). When the storyteller - as is the case of an émigré - moves from one socio-cultural system to another, he/she understands (and narrates) the new experiences in terms of those pre-existing categories. As a consequence the narratives witness the confrontation of the two systems (the first present in the already formed categories and the second in the immediate experience) as well as the process of adaptation to the new one (when in a long term the immediate experience transforms the pre-existing categories).
Moving to another country implies moving into another state system, which mechanisms deal with various situations of the individual's life, might be completely different from the state one came from. Such changes were often the main topic of discussion within the Babinec group. The spheres where the state interferes with the private sphere of its citizens and people living within its borders, are especially the domains traditionally understood as "women's" such as pregnancy, birth, upbringing of children and education generally. The state can give assistance and help, but it can also via laws and practices attempt to indirectly control the bodies of its subjects (e.g. Moore 1999:129). The basic philosophy behind the way the Czech and Danish educational and health systems treat their subjects (i.e. infants, children, to-be mothers, parents or patients) rests on different premises. While the Czech educational system is authoritative and based on sorting out the best, children in the Danish system have more freedom to do what they want and their teachers are preoccupied with assisting the weak ones. What is in a Czech health system treated by a gynaecologist, is in the Danish system done by a general practitioner or more often a midwife(51). To put it simply - the young Czech women often experience a radically different treatment of the same life situation by the health or educational system than they expect. As Rùena Singer observed (see the Gender chapter), the topic of health was exceedingly discussed in former Czechoslovakia. It is within these spheres, that we can find a kind of gender discourse. As a result the topics of health and education dominated the discussion within the Babinec network during my fieldwork.
Here are some examples of the dominant narrative themes that I have recorded during my interviews. Drahomira compares her experience of giving birth in Danish and Czech maternity hospital respectively:
Here (i.e. in the Czech Republic) if the child is not born two weeks after the term, they start the birth artificially. And there (in Denmark) they kept telling me that I have to wait for nature, until I had terrible pain, I had it for three days and still they said: "wait, wait." Only after I came there absolutely exhausted and begged them to do something with me they gave me an injection (that started the birth).
About her second birth in a Czech maternity hospital:
It had to be the Caesarean section, and my husband was arguing with them because he wanted to be there and they would not let him. In Denmark he cut the umbilical cord and pulled the baby out, ... so here he had a conflict with the doctor.
Livie contrasts Czech and Danish kindergartens:
In the Czech Republic a child has to know how to go to potty before it starts going to kindergarten (at the age of two), in Denmark it can still have nappies at the age of four. Even what doctors say in both countries differs.
In a Czech kindergarten the upbringing is more authoritative. In Denmark they look after the child, but they let it be independent, e.g. let it wash its hands when it decides to. Which child would do that! When my daughter comes back from Danish kindergarten, her T-shirt is loose and her hair is messy. Of course she doesn't sleep there. My husband once witnessed that the teacher asked the children whether they would like to sleep. Of course nobody wanted to. They have a lunch box from home. In the Czech Republic they have an organised nap after lunch and the girls bring a paper home where it is written that they should have a comb and hair clasps, so they can be combed after the nap.
Tereza attempts to compare education in elementary schools of both countries:
The difference will be there until they have the same education as here (i.e. in Denmark). And I do not know if it is a good one. My sister is in the fifth class (in the Czech Republic) and she already knows an awful lot, compared to Regina's daughter, who is of the same age. They do not even know how to write in the written form in the fifth, sixth class now.
It is a big difference when I compare my sister with Regina's daughter. My sister knows much more. (In Denmark) They do not learn multiplication before the sixth class. The teachers have different norms. I do not know if it is good or not. I cannot even compare it.
Tereza comments on the Danish liberal education:
I cannot chop vegetables and meat on the same board, careful, there are bacteria ... but then I see children crawling on the train's floor licking everything around, but that is liberal education, that is how it is and we cannot change that.
In these stories my informants express their experience of sometimes totally opposing practices they encountered in contact with the health and educational systems of the two countries. The pre-existing categories, in which they understand the socio-cultural reality, were built on the basis of their socialisation in the Czech Republic. These categories are confronted and challenged by the difference of the Danish practice. In two of the stories concerning the educational system (kindergarten and school) we can trace that the Czech practice comes out of the comparison in a more positive light. The pre-existing categories influence the comparison in favour of the "known" and refuse the other practices as "strange." In the third example we notice that although the informant attempts to compare the two educational systems, at the end she describes them as incomparable.
Based on the dominant narratives circulating within the Babinec network we can also see the changing life perspectives of the young women.
Kateřina - Although I go to the meetings (of Babinec) it is not the same, I am not as interested because: "I came to Denmark, I am totally in shock from this and that ... " I said it so many times.. it is no more fun to repeat it again and again. It even goes on my nerves when the newer ones start with how it is at the doctors, how they did not .... I do not say anything anymore. They ask: "What about you? "and I say: "I do not have problems with my health," the only thing I need is anti-conception and I do not understand the ones who are 20 years old and when they are at home (i.e. in the Czech Republic) go to their doctor. So I started being intolerant...
and she goes on telling a story about her positive experience with the Danish health system.
During the interview Kateřina used the dominant narratives circulating within the Babinec network in order to distance herself from the "beginners' " perspective prevailing at the group meetings. By accepting the Danish perspective she distances herself from the topic of discussion. She is nevertheless using the same dominant narrative theme "in order to achieve coherence" (Skultans 1997:776).
While the 60s generation is in their narratives describing a past or a history, in the case of the 90s generation the narrative genre itself - dominant thematic narratives - expresses an ongoing process. The life histories of the 60s generation and dominant narratives of the 90s generation both demonstrate a membership of a textual community. They are formed by (i.e. mirror) other stories in the community and at the same time form the storytellers' understanding of the world.
The 60s generation life histories about suffering contain a satiric-lapsarian emplotment and draw on the literary tradition we know from the good soldier Švejk and Kafka. They are however to a large extent "flexible" - they contain both of these elements together with a double victim/hero position of the narrator and even include references to the Czech discourse of "how did I trick the system."
In case of the 90s generation I found a similar textual community in their dominant thematic narratives that circle around the educational and health systems. While their life histories often did not include a transpersonal dimension, it is present in the narratives that circled during the Babinec meetings and consequently in the interviews. By focusing on the thematic narratives, I have in my study observed the process of formation of narrative themes within a gender coherent group during migration. It is also within these dominant narratives that the process of adaptation to Danish reality takes place, by changing the perspective from Czech to Danish within the same narrative theme. The topic of socialism and suffering, which dominates the 60s generation life stories is not at all included neither in the 90s generation life histories, nor in their thematic narratives.
I have in my thesis attempted to elucidate what dimensions or discourses of identification are relevant to Czech émigrés in Denmark and re-emigrants to the Czech Republic and how these dimensions are affected by migration. When examining identity it is essential to contextualize, since identity is often intertwined in the very discourse we apply and appears to be differently accentuated in its various dimensions. Rather than elucidating identity per se I have in my thesis concentrated on identity within the formative discourse (e.g. gender discourse). My thesis focused on four dimensions of Czech émigré identity:
It is the national identity that is most "at stake" in the course of migration. Yet, due to similarities in the 19th century nation building process the transition from Czech to Danish identity is rather smooth, since both are based on similar interpretations of the idea of nation. The very same notion of nationhood however sets a rather clear boundary to the émigrés incorporation in Danish society. This boundary can be observed on a personal level. The national identity of Czech émigrés splits into Czech Gemeinschaft (community of origin built around the metaphor of roots) and Danish Gesellschaft (being part of the Danish welfare state citizenship based society). While the former manifests itself in the form of lasting Czech emotions (that can be suppressed but remain), the later can be detected in form of Danish function (see e.g. Danish national time). Nationhood as it is imagined plays a crucial role in the émigrés' incorporation in the host society.
The supra-national dimension is the most conflicting one. The clash of the Czech and Danish discourse - the Danish protestant, welfare state lifeworld that focuses on the immediate everyday life and unfolds itself in the horizontal dimension and the Czech atheist (more post-catholic than protestant) grounded verticality informed by the Austro-Hungarian hierarchy (Lass 1999), resulting in a lifeworld that tends to perceive in longer historical perspective. The Danish inclination to think in present and terms of everyday life ("among the people," "in the social system"), and the Czech tendency to think historically and transcendentally ("in relation to"), partly explains why Danes use the term Eastern Europe while Czechs Central Europe. It is interesting to look at what this implies in terms of identity and what is relevant for identity. For Danes it is important what ones home and other things one owns look like(52) (notice stress on Danish design), while for a Czech it is more important to relate to the local castle, church in the town where he/she lives or simply the town itself (see Gotaas 1992 - about her informants use of Prague courtyards). The Danish tradition in "applied arts" (brugskunst) that evolved into contemporary design is juxtaposed with the transcendent Czech historically grounded lifeworld that lies on the crossroads of various European influences.(53)
The two conflicting modes of consciousness lie to a certain extent behind the 90s stream of migration: Thinking as Central Europeans the Czechs come to Denmark, finding out they are perceived as East Europeans, some leave again and some strive to become Danish. The ascribed East European identity provokes strong emotional reactions of the Czech émigrés. The accession of the Czech Republic to the EU may change that perception by the surrounding society. The prolonged understanding as one undifferentiated group of "East European" nations, may however in the Danish context also confirm and strengthen this division on the "old" and "new" European countries as the "A" and "B" team.
Relating to gender, I attempted to show Czech émigré women as agents, who however act according to their lifeworld, which is characterized by a verbal denial of emancipation and a return to traditional women's virtues while at the same time taking for granted the independently acting and empowered woman. If Czech émigré women in the end seem to be the "victims" of the process of transition (as their migration might suggest), it is to a large extent due to their acting according to the lifeworld inherent in their gender identity. Gender identity among the Babinec generation seems to be more important than their identification on the national or supraregional level. The young Czech émigré women stress an intra-gender difference towards Danish women, perhaps a consequence of experiencing intimate relations to Danish men together with a polite distance of Danish women. The 90s generation of Czech émigré women was more affected by the return to traditional family values than the 60s generation, who were upon their arrival also ahead of Danish women in terms of emancipation in the public sphere of employment.
The generation identity is the only stable category that does not seem to get influenced by the migration.(54) The narratives similarly remain the same - their topics (in case of the 90s) and structuring (in case of the 60s). The two forms of narratives show however different resistance to influences from the surrounding society. While the life histories keep the Czech narrative structure and remain more or less the same even after 30 years of migration, in the dominant thematic narratives the narrator's viewpoint within the same narrative topic changes rather early from Czech to Danish.
General concluding remarks
It is the way the categories are constructed that matters and may even cause people to move. My study shows that while nationhood is constructed in a similar way in the Czech and Danish case, both Czech and Danish perception of European supranational regions differ profoundly, and so does the way Czech and Danish gender discourse is established as pre-discoursive. When we as scientists or just ordinary mortals want to understand another society or the migrants, we have to pay attention to the lifeworld of the people studied and to the discourses relevant in their lifeworld. Such discourses have a profound influence on migration and the émigrés lifeworld. While the Czechs may in the 90s have migrated because they already drew on the notion of a common European identity, they were in Denmark still perceived as East Europeans and received on the same terms as third-world immigrants. The European integration seems to be simultaneously a very optimistic and difficult task to carry on, considering the obstacles the Czech émigrés faced in Denmark in the 90s. It is particularly the notion of nationhood that sets clear limits to what is possible to do in terms of one United Europe. Nations as the "imagined community" (Anderson 1996) and the most important pool of belonging (in Gellner's sense) continue to play a prime role in Europe. When European nationals migrate they become disattached from their national pool and mingle with the immigrant mass in the host country. Here the notion of free movement within Europe collides with the anti-foreign attitude of the host society. The stereotypic thinking of "old Europeans" that are in the Danish case still under the influence of the cold war terms, is principally against the ideals implemented by the EU(55). The way of thinking of the "old" and "new" Europeans resembles the thinking in the East and West Germany that keeps the difference between Wessis and Ossis after the unification.(56)
The term identity itself which may seem highly relevant in a western European context, is possibly misleading in the Czech context, where the notion of community still would be more appropriate. In this perhaps controversial opinion I build on Bauman, who perceives identity as a "surrogate of community" that emerges after the collapse of the community itself (Bauman 2001:128). The term identity is only currently emerging in Czech academia (2004). Since socialism emphasised the collective and suppressed the individual, it is questionable how relevant the term identity was to the post-socialist society of the 1990s and especially the socialist society of the 1960s. Thus implementing the pre-existing category of identity on the Central European milieu may itself be an example of imposing a cultural category which is not yet relevant to the field. I believe however, as the émigrés are becoming still more influenced and absorbed by the receiving Danish society and the Czech society develops, the term identity gains its relevance for the study. Migration studies, as my example of identity study shows, have to pay attention to the discourses relevant to both the sending and receiving society and find the right "mixture" of their influences on the migrants' lifeworld(s). This may be difficult since the "mixture" may differ among the individual émigrés according to, for example, time spent in the host country, frequency of contact with the sending country and social status before and after migration. It seems as if it were "two separated lifeworlds" that however influence and inform each other, which the émigrés were involved in during the process of migrancy. The social status and corespondent lifeworld of the émigrés is not only influenced by migration, but also by categories I did not analyse in detail - for example becoming "a married woman," or on the contrary "a refugee."
The statistical data suggest, that from the Czech point of view it may be interesting to have a look on the processes of migrancy of women in the 90s between the Czech Republic and neighbouring Germany (and other west European countries). This would allow for a focus on the role the receiving society has. It would also be fruitful to focus on the migration of women (to the west) as such, including Ukrainian women in the Czech Republic. This may open up for some reassessment of the gender policy in the Czech Republic.
From a more theoretical perspective it would be interesting to focus on what effect the way ones nationhood is constructed(57) (and here I mean both in the sending as well as in the receiving society), has on incorporation of different groups of émigrés in the receiving society. My thesis points towards the following tendencies: 1) the French model of nationhood is more capable of absorbing immigrants than the German model,(58) 2) nationhood of the sending society based on the French model is an advantage for the émigrés and 3) it is easier to move within the same or similar model of nationhood.
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1. Historically, the Czech Republic is made up of three parts: Bohemia, Moravia, and a part of Silesia, which together are known as the Czech Lands (Čornej and Pokorný 2000:3).
2. See Chapter Two: Danish function and Czech emotion. My informants often expressed a wish to spend more time in the Czech Republic once they retire.
3. After my fieldwork was over the group meeting of Babinec occurred less and less often. There are several reasons for that: some left Denmark for the Czech Republic or elsewhere, and the rest got more adapted to the Danish society. After some years in Denmark a few also joined DCA. Babinec served as a kind of "meeting lounge." The group does not meet as an open group any more, but continues in the form of individual friendships.
4. Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, was born in the Czech Lands.
5. Among those leaving the country were anti-Communists, functionaries of the right-wing parties, known personalities, former owners whose property was nationalised as well as endangered Jews.
6. During the communist repression in Czechoslovakia more than 200 000 were imprisoned. Approximately 5000 were executed or died in the prison (source: The memorial of victims of communism in Prague).
7. They had to answer "Yes" to the question "Do you agree with the soviet help?"
8. The general secretary of the communist party and president of Czechoslovakia.
9. They attempt to identify the reasons for the decline of birth rates in the Czech population in economical terms, or explain it by the consumerist way of life and disintegration of traditional values (Pehe:2004).
10. The Czech baby boom that peaked in 1944 was caused by the fact that having a child protected the parents from "Totaleinsatz" (mobilisation of civilians for war efforts) i.e. forced work in Germany (Hlinovská 2003).
11. Even in the Czech Republic the flag is not such a widely available article as in Denmark, it is mostly for official use, definitely not for birthdays.
12. The described models also correspond to Max Weber's ideal types - traditional and bureaucratic authority (Eriksen and Nielsen 2001:33).
13. The floods in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria in August 2002 that affected among other places the centre of Prague.
14. For the importance of language in the construction of Czech national identity see Holý in Chapter 3.
15. Following their different practice, which is in fact also implementing Barth́s theory of boundaries: "Barth (...) argue(s) that the boundaries considered to constitute and define an ethnic group or community (...) depend upon what the particular group (...) is doing" (Guibernau and Rex 1997:7).
16. The experience of a "phenomenological time core" together with the role rhythm plays (Sokol: cas a rytmus) explains the émigrés strong emotional experience of songs described by e.g. Gellner in the introduction to Nationalism (Gellner 1997:9).
17. Versus e.g. Russian or Polish émigrés in Denmark.
18. In the Czech Republic this position is occupied by ice-hockey, which the Czechs (probably) learned from Russians. Ice-hockey attained the prime position during the period of normalisation during which the ice-hockey matches with USSR became an opportunity for revenge of the 1968 occupation.
19. That I organised in December 2001 i.e. shortly after the election campaign to the Danish parliament, which concentrated on the topic of "foreigners in Denmark."
20. Babinec that on the contrary centred around Czech way of organisation, lasted only shorter time.
21. "Put in brackets" or "set aside." Here I use the phenomenological epoché or suspension in a figurative way (Husserl explained in Sokol 1994, Jackson 1996)
22. The Czech Lands lie on the crossroads where neighbouring powers exercise their hegemony. In this milieu the Czech flexibility (se chapter two) evolved a result of the changing influence. An example is the origin of Czechs - Slavic, Germanic and Celtic - that is changeably accentuated. During the Soviet hegemony it was the Slavic origin that was enhanced and basically all settlements archaeologists found at that time were Slavic. The transitional period of the 90s brought about a Celtic resurrection, and suddenly many names of rivers and settlements are believed to be originally Celtic. I believe that during the Second World War similarly the influence of the Germanic tribes was enhanced, but I have no proof of this hypothesis.
23. A movement for cultural and political co-operation among Slavic nations that gained popularity during the 19th century national appraisal among Slavic nations within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
24. Baltic countries e.g. claim to be both part of Scandinavia and Central Europe.
25. The primary modern meaning of the word image is a picture: "a picture in our mind" or "reflection of reality" (Holm 1987:65). These "reflections" may be more or less representational of reality and tend to be rather one-dimensional than diverse. However, the concept of image is not limited to the visual sphere. It concerns perception, but also the reputation of a given product, person, group, company etc. The existence of public relations - a whole field dealing with Image, only confirms the importance impression and reputation has in contemporary western society (Ibid: 1987:65). The second quoted meaning (as in public relations) is related to the "public impression" meaning that is mentioned in the etymology. It is expressly related to PR, advertisement etc. When it is used in this sense in anthropology, it is often understood in a semiotic sense.
26. Romanas comment: Luckily, I got confronted with that offending kind of opinion about Czechs only three times, and not immediately after my arrival. I have to say that I have never been a patriot, but when I got that kind of questions in Denmark, it offended me, I got angry inside and for the first time felt like a patriot.
27. A direct translation of the Czech name of the country Česko.
28. Just to explain: Czech avant-garde architecture of the beginning of the 20th Century until the Second World War is appreciated world-wide and architects from the whole world (including Denmark) come to see the unique edifice of Czech constructivism, functionalism and especially cubism.
29. Contrary to the case of Muslim women, in whose case gender became a major issue since it became associated with the originally religious "veil debate."
30. Whose second name Garrigue he accepted as his own.
31. In 2003 the Czech parliament agreed to return to the celebrations of the International women's day.
32. The term refers to the primitive form of capitalism that the western countries went through during the industrial revolution.
33. Maternity allowances are on the contrary rather low (after the first 6 months with 60 % of salary the rest of the time 2 550 Czech crowns) and in fact sustain the family's (usually the wife's) dependence on the working partner's (usually the husband's) income (Schmidt 2004).
34. See the dominant narratives of Babinec (about health and educational systems)
35. The problematic of status and class affiliation is rather complex and the differences dividing them may be very subtle. The affiliation may have changed during the informants' lives, after the 1989 revolution or as a consequence of marriage or migration. The clearest reference is often to the situation in the family they grew up in.
36. Seen from a global perspective the differences between Czech and Danish gender roles are very small. The differences were enhanced by my investigation. According to one of my informants, Czech gender roles are similar to those she observed in western upper class milieu, while the Scandinavian model stands on its own.
37. This is however in contrast with the Danish author of a number of books and authority on the Czech Lands Inge Bro Jørgensens opinion. In Danish-Czech Dialog she wrote: "Humour is something the Czechs and Danes have in common. We are probably the two European nations that are closest to each other in that respect, sharply followed by Englishmen." (Dansk Tjekkisk Dialog 1999:7)
38. Writing group is "a group of students, who write each their thesis and regularly meet to give response to each others texts" (Harboe:2000).
39. The case of nurses is special - while there is profound need of hospital personal in Denmark, the nurses with Czech education are not "educated enough." The Czech nurse education is secondary, while in Denmark it is tercial. The problem will in a long run be solved thanks to EU harmonisation - by implementing bachelor education of Czech nurses. Since the Danish system is not open to other incompatible systems, any foreigner who comes to Denmark (refugee etc.) might face a similar barrier that blocks using the abilities and working potential of the individual, although these are needed in the society.
40. Tereza: I went to aerobics with a boy from Yugoslavia, who knew an 18 year old Czech girl, who plays viola, she played for the queen, she is really good, and I do not know her - she is 19 and doesn't seek company of Czechs, she probably has enough other friends...
41. More information about this topic will result from the current PhD research project of Anika Liversage at the department of Organization and Industrial Sociology at Copenhagen Business School about East-Europeans in Denmark who came with academic education, where my informants were asked to participate.
42. The Czech term "folk" denominates a music genre that has nothing to do with traditional country songs. Many young Czechs in the 80s spent their weekends in nature to escape from towns and the system, and these songs were sung by the fire out in the open. They are often played on festivals together with American "country music" and widely known even by people who themselves did not necessarily follow that life style.
43. The other two are power and culture.
44. Bad cadre descent means that ones parents (grandparents) were not e.g.: communists and workers (factory, agricultural etc. ideally miners), they were on the other hand e.g. former factory, farm or business owners deprived of their property, members of nobility and later also distant relatives to émigrés in exile. Good cadre descent is the opposite, respectively absence of the above mentioned criteria. Cadre is a person chosen by the communistic party as suitable to take over key positions within the society.
45. For example Boena Kowalskis narratives about collectivisation of her grandfather's farm or the family Nebeskýs property expropriation.
46. Sokol was a gymnastic organisation and TGM was the first Czechoslovak president during the First Republic, a period which was tabooed during socialism.
47. Discrimination often first took place as a consequence of the emigration (see the previous examples).
48. See Chapter one.
49. I was for example encouraged to taste a soup and express my opinion about it, or to describe how I prepare a typical Czech dish in exchange for my host's version.
50. During socialism any public speech act was under possible control. This resulted in enhanced use of restricted code in a social contact. Within the code one could express itself or read a message "between the lines."
51. The last practice often shocked my informants, since in the eyes of a Czech woman a midwife is something she heard about from her grandmother (if at all) and even in her worst dreams she would never be assisted by one.
52. For a Czech it is also important what one's flat looks like, but it is in relation to one's status, not identity. Here the Czech would relate to an object with a clear meaning for the local community.
53. Czech Lands were influenced by virtually all European movements that were absorbed and creatively reworked in the country - Czech Lands are an atheistic cradle of Protestantism that went through profound Recatholization, it is hierarchy informed egalitarian society etc.
54. The generations however do not necessarily correspond to Danish generations.
55. Due to the widespread Euro-scepticism, it may be misleading to generalise about the whole EU from the Danish example.
56. After being incorporated to the West, the Ossi continue to be second to the Wessi. However, the ostalgia and "mirror imaging" (see Borneman 1992) the Ossi engage in even after the end of the cold war, is in my opinion a uniquely German case.
57. See my analysis of the German and French model and corresponding division on Czech Gemeinschaft and Danish Gesellschaft in chapter two.
58. The ideal models are not identical with present-day situation in France or Germany.