"Can You Run Away from Sorrow?"

"Can You Run Away from Sorrow?"

Mothers Left Behind in 1990s Belgrade
Ivana Bajic-Hajdukovic
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/06/2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-05004-5
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How does emigration affect those left behind? The fall of Yugoslavia in the 1990s led citizens to look for a better, more stable life elsewhere. For the older generations, however, this wasn't an option. In this powerful and moving work, Ivana Bajić-Hajduković reveals the impact that waves of emigration from Serbia had on family relationships and, in particular, on elderly mothers who stayed. With nowhere to go, and any savings given to their children to help establish new lives, these seniors faced the crumbling country, waves of refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO bombing, the failing economy, and the trial and ouster of Slobodan Milosevic. "Can You Run Away from Sorrow?" poignantly depicts the intimacy of family relationships sustained through these turbulent times in Serbia and through the next generation's search for a new life. Bajić-Hajduković explores transformations in family intimacy during everyday life practices—in people's homes, in their food and cooking practices, in their childcare, and even in remittances and the exchange of gifts. In doing so, "Can You Run Away from Sorrow?" illustrates not only the tremendous sacrifice of parents, but also their profound sense of loss—of their families, their country, their stability and dignity, and most importantly, of their own identity and hope for what they thought their future would be.

Author Bio

Ivana Bajić-Hajduković is Adjunct Professor of Food Studies at Syracuse University in London, United Kingdom.


"We would all recognise that war and displacement is usually the harbinger of tragedy for mothers and many works describe their suffering. But this book does something that is much less common. It takes the situation of left behind mothers in Serbia to ask deeper questions about what it means to be a mother. Being a mother means you are supporting your children, not receiving their remittances, it consists of cooking proper meals, and reminding children of the taste of home. When there is a reversal in circumstances, and the house becomes more a museum than a home, this becomes a visceral blow to mothers who for a time feel they have ceased to exist as such. Through her poignant stories and careful analysis Bajić-Hajduković helps us understand that it was the mothers left at home, who became exiled from themselves and shows us what lies at the foundation of being a mother."

 (Daniel Miller, author of The Comfort of People)

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Table of Contents

1. The Locust Years
2. A Bite of Yugoslavia: Food, Memory, and Migration
3. Weaving the Order: Homes and Everyday Practices of Belgrade Mothers
4. Inalienable Possessions: Serbian Remittances
5. Keeping in Touch: “Can you run away from sorrow?”
6. Family Revisited: The Consequences of Migration