‘We Were Refugees Ourselves!’ Discursive Framing of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Croatia and Collective Memories of the 1990s War

This paper focuses on the discursive framing of the ‘refugee crisis’ in Croatian online media in order to examine the extent to which dis-courses about refugees crossing borders in 2015/2016 were informed by Croatia’s recent history and collective memory of the 1990s war. The paper is particularly interested in the local population’s perception of and reactions to the arrival of refugees. The analysis shows that the so-called refugee crisis, which dominated the European and world me-dia in 2015/2016, triggered memories and narratives of the Croatian population’s own experience of displacement and forced migration, due to its own – not so distant – experiences of war. These local discourses defy the usual pro- and anti-refugee discourses that were present in other societies in Europe where refugees were arriving, due to a dif-ferent historical memory and experience.

Tamara Banjeglav

Tamara Banjeglav

Tamara Banjeglav received her PhD from the University of Graz, where she also held a junior fellowship in the Field of Excellence “Dimensions of Europeanization” at the Centre for Southeast European Studies. She was previously a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Rijeka. Her research interests fall within the fields of memory studies, transitional justice, migration studies and nationalism studies, particularly in the post-Yugoslav space.

1. What were the dominant discourses related to the 2015/2016 "refugee crisis" in the Croatian media?

2. How can media representations of refugees and migrants construct empathy and solidarity with them?

3. How does the previous experience of being a refugee shape the attitude towards the “new“ refugees?

4. What could be the effects of translating someone’s trauma into one’s own? What are the effects on the collective level?


Southeastern Europe