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Bosnian Americans: transmission of trauma between generations

Ahmet Emre Dikyurt (Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA and Department of Anthropology, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 4 January 2023




There have been a plethora of social science studies of diasporas and immigrants in the USA. Research on Bosnian-Americans, however, has been relatively sparse. The purpose of this study is to understand the relationship between the first-generation Bosnian American's trauma and its transgenerational effects on the second generation.


Bosnian-Americans are a relatively recent immigrant community in the USA, as most of the first-generation immigrated between 1993 and 2002 due to the Bosnian War and its aftermath. This research paper studies second-generation Bosnians to understand transgenerational trauma and emotions carried from the Bosnian War. Through archival research and extended interviews, second-generation Bosnian-Americans were asked questions about Bosnian-American identity and their psychosocial adjustment including transgenerational trauma.


Analysis of the data shows that in the second generation, the psychosocial effects of the Bosnian War have partially been transmitted from the first generation. Understanding the complex constitution of diasporic second-generation identity is facilitated by connecting it to the traumatic backgrounds, life experiences and struggles of the first generation.


The main observation is that there is a transmission of trauma and emotions from the first generation to the second-generation Bosnian Americans, which can be clearly seen in the participants of this research. Forms of transgenerational trauma (e.g. silence) and transmission of emotions (e.g. trust, anger and emotional unavailability) have been a part of the second generation’s lives, which, in fact, shaped their identities and personalities (From my conclusion section).



I would like to begin by thanking Dr. Robert Lemelson for creating and funding the Lemelson Anthropological Honors Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has also funded this project. I would also like to thank my faculty advisors, Dr. Laurie Kain Hart and Dr. Salih Can Açıksöz, for their expert advice and encouragement throughout this project, as well as Dr. Linda Garro, Dr. Douglas Hollan, Dr. Tritia Toyota, Dr. Richard Lesure, and Dr. Heather Loyd with their help throughout this program. Additionally, I wanted to note the help of UCLA Ph.D. students Andrew Marcus Smith, Yanina Gorri, and Maddie Yakal, Dr. Sergio Lemus of the Texas A&M University, the 2022 Lemelson cohort, and the continuous efforts and aid of the UCLA Anthropology Department. I would also like to acknowledge the help of Ben Moore, Rebecca van Kniest, and Dr. Adna Karamehic-Oates at the Center for Bosnian Studies at Fontbonne University and the help of Dr. Ajlina Karamehic-Muratovic at Saint Louis University. The project would have been impossible without the help of every single person mentioned above. Thank you all so much.


Dikyurt, A.E. (2023), "Bosnian Americans: transmission of trauma between generations", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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