Date of Award

Winter 2001

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Lucy E Salyer


During the late 19th century and throughout the 20 th century, three waves of Serbian immigrants left the constant political flux of the Balkans to arrive in a constantly changing America. This dissertation examines how the political changes in the mother country and in the United States influenced the self-identification of each wave of immigrants as Serbs, Yugoslavs and Americans. I draw upon oral histories of Serbian-American intellectuals, Serbian language newspapers in the United States, immigrant memoirs and literature, and secondary sources in both Serbian and English to document the construction and reconstruction of Serbian, Yugoslav and American identity.

Before the state of Yugoslavia was formed, America was the first country that united Serbs of very different local backgrounds and provided them with an opportunity to define the meaning of their common Serbian identity through establishing benevolent organizations, newspapers, and the Serbian Orthodox Church in America. After 1918, the newly formed Yugoslav state, with its embassies and consulates, became a generator of Yugoslav identity among American Serbs. Confirming the immigrants, continual transnational connectedness with the developments in their country of origin, this research documents the crisis of the Yugoslav identity among American Serbs during the two dissolutions of Yugoslavia, first in 1941 and again in 1991. American Serbs' identification with their adopted country proved to be a gradual process, facilitated by Serbs, inclusion in mainstream America during Roosevelt's New Deal, World War Two---patriotism and the identification with American Cold War anti-communism among the majority of the American Serbs. This trend of proud American patriotism was briefly but sharply reversed as many American Serbs experienced a conflict of loyalties during the American bombing of Serbia in 1999.