Resisting Xenophobia: Transatlantic Mobility and Aleksandar Hemon’s Immigrant Autobiography The Book of My Lives


  • Elvira Bolanca-Lowman Philipps-Universität Marburg



Bosnian American Immigrant Autobiography, Aleksandar Hemon, Xenophobia, Anti-Immigration Rhetoric, Barbarian


The article examines the significance of xenophobic language used in the current portrayal of migration in mainstream media and its potential to determine Western – i.e. especially U.S. American and European – understandings of the migration debate. By critically observing how politically diverse media outlets essentialize the identity of migrants, the article attempts to expose the dangers inherent in the emerging xenophobic anti-immigration rhetoric. The focus on Aleksandar Hemon’s personal account of displacement and the subsequent difficulties and opportunities that arise from his life in diaspora serve to humanize the migrant self. In this context, special attention will be paid to Hemon’s ability to both transgress national ideas of belonging and reconstruct a self that is at home in Sarajevo as well as in Chicago. The selected sections from Hemon’s autobiographical narration will be put into a dialogue with the abstract images of an immigrant deeply rooted in xenophobic discourses. 

Author Biography

Elvira Bolanca-Lowman, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Elvira Bolanca-Lowman is a Ph.D. candidate at the Philipps-Universität Marburg and is working on her project about Bosnian American immigrant autobiographies under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Carmen Birkle. She holds an M.A. degree in North American Studies from the same university, and her final thesis was entitled “Contesting the American Self: Immigrant Autobiographies in the 20th Century,” which was mostly researched and written during her year abroad in Portland, Oregon. Recently, she was accepted and attended the London Critical Theory Summer School at Birkbeck, University of London, and has received a research grant from the library of the John F. Kennedy Institute at Freie Universität Berlin, where she will conduct research in the fall of 2017.




How to Cite

Bolanca-Lowman, Elvira. “Resisting Xenophobia: Transatlantic Mobility and Aleksandar Hemon’s Immigrant Autobiography The Book of My Lives”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, July 2017, doi:10.5283/copas.280.