The Bunjevci reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Bunjevci

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Bunjevci (singular Bunjevac, pronounced Bunye'vtzi and Bunye'vatz resp.) are a South Slav ethnic group originally from the Dinaric Alps region, now mostly living in the Bačka/Bácska (today northern Serbia or Vojvodina) and southern Hungary (particularly in the Baja region). They are generally Roman Catholic by faith. By nationality, they register both as Croats and as a separate ethnic group.

History

The Bunjevci migrated from their previous location into Bačka in several groups in 1682, 1686, 1687. Bunjevci also live in present-day Lika, western Herzegovina as well as the Dalmatian hinterland, but there they do not register as an ethnic group.

There are several explanations for their name, most common of which is that it comes from the river Buna in central Herzegovina, their supposed original homeland before their migrations. However, it is not exactly certain from which exact part of the Dinaric Alps the Bunjevci came. Due to the fact they speak the ikavian štokavian dialect of the Serbo-Croatian group, some claim that they originate from northwestern Herzegovina and northern Dalmatia.

Historic documents also refer to Bunjevci as Dalmatians, Bosnians, Catholic Serbs, Catholic Rascians, Racz Catholics, Vallachs-Catholics etc. The 19th century brought on a period of nationalism, including Magyarization and the Croatian romantic nationalism. Some Bunjevci developed a Croat national feeling in mid-19th century, when the Hungarian royal censa started registering "Croats" rather than regionally named groups. Notably, the bishop of Subotica Ivan Antunović (1815Ö1888) supported the notion of calling Bunjevci and Šokci (another similar Catholic group that lives in Vojvodina) Croats.

In 1880, they founded Bunjevačka stranka, an indigenous political party. During this time, opinions varied on whether the Bunjevci should try to assert themselves as a standalone ethnic group, or side with either the Serbs or the Croats. Nationally, the Magyar censa from 1880 onward to 1910 numbered the Bunjevci distinctly, separate from the Serbs even though they were referred to as Catholic Serbs.

In October 1918, Bunjevci held a national convention in Subotica and decided to secede Vojvodina from Hungary and join Serbia. This was confirmed at the Great National Assembly of Serbs, Bunjevci and other Slavs in Novi Sad, which proclaimed unification with the Kingdom of Serbia in November of 1918. The subsequent creation of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Yugoslavia in 1929) brought the Bačka Bunjevci in the same country with the Croats.

After 1945, in Communist Yugoslavia the census of 1948 did not officially recognize the Bunjevci, and instead merged their data with the Croats, but otherwise did not try to assimilate them, given that the Bunjevac schools in Vojvodina also taught the Serbian version of the unified language.

Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the renewed Bunjevac national movement was officially recognized as a minority group in Serbia in 1990. The community, however, has been divided around the issue of the name: in the 1991 census, in terms of ethnicity, around 20,000 declared themselves Bunjevci whereas some 25,000 declared themselves Croats; in 2002, there were again around 20,000 Bunjevci and around 55,000 Croats in Vojvodina (although not all of the Croats had Bunjevac roots). Both parts of the community consider themselves ethnologically as Bunjevci, although each subscribing to its interpretation of the term.

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