Cultural Production in Theory and Practice

Emin Bahtić – Dancin between Cultures. The Role of Bosnian Folk Dance for Juveniles ins Salzburg’s Bosnian Diaspora Community

Emin Bahtić was born in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He studied English language and literature and marketing (graduated) at the University of Sarajevo. Since 2009 he lives in Austria and currently attends the MA Cultural Productions at the University of Salzburg/ Mozarteum Salzburg. He is particularly interested in video art.

The thesis discusses the role of the Bosnian cultural background of juveniles between 14 and 20 years old in the Bosnian diaspora community in the city of Salzburg/ Austria – a relevant topic in the light of current debates on diaspora communities in Austrian politics, society and media. The research question focuses on how young people from the Bosnian diaspora community in Salzburg perceive and sustain their cultural background, with cultural background being conceptualized as a set of activities referring to the “home country”, whereby all juveniles in focus were  born in Austria. Concepts of “community”, “diaspora” and “culture” are discussed on a theoretical level and are contextualized in the thesis’ overall frame. A qualitative case study, employing participatory observation and semi-structured interviews with youngsters attending Bosnian folk dance classes at the folk dance club KUD Behar, allows to get a deeper insight into the role of Bosnian customs and traditions. The aim is to put a new perspective on the cultural lives in diaspora communities by  letting members of the community in focus talk; this is something that is frequently neglected in respective research in the field. The thesis examines the underlying motives of youngsters to attend folk dance classes, as well as the meaning of folk dance for their daily lives. It finds that folk dance is a vehicle to keep up the connection with the perceived former “home land”, while at the same time it is not the maintenance of customs and traditions, but rather socializing with similar-minded friends which is the main reason to attend the classes. The thesis concludes that nevertheless, folk dance provides an important stimulant for young people from the Bosnian diaspora community, it plays an important part in their daily lives and finds its expression through objects such as special clothing, photos or listening to the respective music.

The thesis also prepares for a video workshop, which will be carried out between November 2012 and March 2013 in Salzburg. During this workshop, the attendants of the Bosnian folk dance classes at KUD Behar are invited to make short videos through which they can express the role of folk dance and Bosnian customs and traditions for their daily lives as members of the Bosnian diaspora. The short videos will then be included in a documentary about  the workshop, which will be presented in March 2013 in Das Kino Salzburg, the local arts cinema. The project is the practical and artistic application of the thesis and discusses the research question with the Bosnian youngsters from KUD Behar from a creative perspective. It will be carried out in cooperation with Studio West Independent Salzburg, a local film studio, and Nicole Baïer, a film producer, artist, and experienced film workshop teacher.

Elke Zobl/ Florian Bettel
Elisabeth Klaus

Link to presentation/documentation:
(start of project: November 2012; end: March 2013)
March 2013, at Das Kino Salzburg (

Cooperating Institutions:
Studio West Independent Salzburg and Nicole Baïer

Elke Zobl, Elisabeth Klaus (2012): Cultural Production in Theory and Practice. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #01 ,