Bosnian Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • If a Bosnian offers to perform a favour for you, accept their kindness graciously. Australians can sometimes be cautious or sceptical of why people want to offer their help, especially if they don’t know them well. However, try to recognise the gesture as a mark of the Bosnian generosity and show your gratitude.
  • Try to refer to the regions and districts of the country as specifically as you can. Provincial identity is important to people. For example, refer to someone from the Southern region of the country as ‘Herzegovinian’ rather than ‘Bosnian’. However, consider as well that it can be difficult to talk about people’s place of birth as many Bosnians were displaced during the war and may not have the ability to return due to intolerance or the destruction of their homes.
  • Expect people to ask quite questions about your age, marital status and children when they first meet you.
  • Expect some Bosnians to have boisterous debates in public, particularly on the topic of politics. Try not to be agitated or concerned that such conversations will escalate. Bosnians are very expressive in general, especially when talking about something that they hold a strong conviction about; these kinds of discussions are common and rarely lead to lingering hard feelings.

 

Don'ts

  • Avoid appearing too with your money and time around Bosnians, especially in social situations. Those who are reluctant to show generosity can quickly build a negative reputation.
  • Do not accuse a Bosnian of doing something wrong, particularly in front of others. This can seriously offend their pride.
  • Do not make comments that could be perceived to have a disrespectful undertone. Bosnians can be sensitive to condescending remarks.
  • Avoid expressing opinions about the causes or dynamics of the Bosnian War. It is a particularly sensitive topic to discuss each ’s involvement in it.
  • Avoid equating Bosnian culture to post-communist Eastern European countries or assuming that it has a heavy Soviet influence.
  • Do not push a Bosnian to tell you their if they are hesitant. Similarly, if they have not already disclosed this information, it is best not to ask such a question unless you have a strong relationship with the person.

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