ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7 Blesok no. 71-73 | volume XIII | March-August, 2010
Blesok no. 71-73,
Stranstvuvanje and Provintialism
I came across the word stranstvuvanje for the first time as a high school student in the Macedonian translation of the title „Странствувањата на Чајлд Харолд“ by Byron. It was one of the those words that everybody understands and nobody knows to explain it correctly. Several years later I also found the original title “Pilgrimages of Childe Harold” and I realized that the Macedonian translation of the English original can also mean pilgrimage, i.e. a holy travel, a travel that has a specific goal – spiritual cleansing; however, equally important, it also means a travel that has a circular trajectory, i.e. it imminently carries within itself the return home. Stranstvuvanje is therefore shaped as a term with positive filling, a process of learning and enlightening via traveling, living far from home, but also returning to the home as a starting point. The traveler, the pilgrim, the one who goes abroad takes the answers that he has found on this trip (returns them) home, to the real place, where the questions that sought for those answers were born.
With its very nature of searching, movement, dynamics, openness to the world, stranstvuvanje is opposed to provincialism. The latter term is a full with negative charging, meaning first of all languor, immobility, outdatedness and limitation. In cultural sense, provincialism, as the journalist Mirjana Pavlovska says in a column entitled “Cultural Provincialism”, does not correspond to the world. It is aggressive to its own environment, and ultimately inferior in the communication with the others. The provincial does not ask questions, much less seeks for answers. He lives in his limited world of inherited false values that are projected on the rest of the world, lightly and cruelly judging the things he does not know. However, in a deeper sense, provincialism also means a hidden, never fulfilled yearning for what is worldly as opposed to the provincial. Thus, the provincial wishes for what he does not know, he wants to believe that he has raised in a way (or maybe that he can raise) above the province to which, to his regret, he almost naturally belongs, regardless whether he wants it or not.
The latest generations of Macedonians immigrants are between these two terms, the stranstvuvanje and provincialism; these are the people that can be considered so-called intellectual immigrants (as opposed to the previous
1. The Macedonian word stranstvuvanje does not really have a proper single counterpart in English. It means residing, staying abroad.
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