From migrants to pilgrim tourists: Diasporic imagining and visits to Medjugorje

Zlatko Skrbiš

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39 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores ways in which Croatian migrants in Australia relate to the Catholic apparitional site in Medjugorje (Bosnia and Herzegovina), a pilgrimage destination where the Virgin Mary has allegedly been appearing to a group of Croatians since the early 1980s. It examines the complex experience of ethnic and spiritual rejuvenation that ensues when migrants undertake a double journey 'home' and to Medjugorje. What emerged from this research is a complex dynamic between ethno-specific and universalist readings of Medjugorje and their interconnectedness with secular and sacred dimensions of home visits. For some older migrants, particularly those who have no home to go back to, and for those whose visit home makes them increasingly aware that they are tourists in their old homeland, Medjugorje becomes an imagined surrogate home. This place allows them to partake in spiritual peace, and immerse themselves in the superficial Croatian domesticity that locals are happy to provide as part of their servicing of tourists. Medjugorje thus represents a place which domesticates and provides an anchorage for their sense of belonging and allows them to express their diasporic brand of Croatianism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-329
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007

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