The Croatian Diaspora in the U.S.A. on the Eve of the Third Millennium

“The Croatian Diaspora in the U.S.A. on the Eve of the Third Millennium”

A symposium held at St. Xavier University, Chicago, April 17, 1999

Welcoming Remarks by Ante Čuvalo – President of the ACS
On behalf of the Association for Croatian Studies (ACS), I would like to welcome all of you, especially our guests from outside the Chicago area, to the first symposium of the ACS. Your interest, sacrifices, and participation are greatly appreciated.
I would also like to express our deep thanks to St. Xavier University and its entire community for allowing us to gather at this distinguished learning institution.  Special thanks to the Department of History and Political science and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for sponsoring this event.  Dr. John Gutowski was our contact-person with the University, I thank him for enthusiastically supporting the symposium and for being a good friend.  Everyone I encountered at this institution has made me feel at home, and I am grateful for their friendliness and help.
Friends and colleagues,
We are not only at the end of the 20th Century and of the 2nd Millennium, but we are living through a very exciting and challenging period of history.  Within only the last ten years, the Soviet empire has imploded and the communist system with it.  A new realignment of the world order has taken place.  The bipolar world has vanished and a number of new independent states have emerged from under the rubble of communism.  But, the falling of the Berlin Wall has also unleashed new violence, wars, and suffering for many, including the people of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and now Kosovo.  Furthermore, the old system has fallen apart but the earlier ruling elite is still alive and doing well.  This elite is trying to reinvent itself, but in many cases it is the same old mentality and habits in a new wrapping.
Today, there are many questions to be asked about the world as a whole.  Just to mention a few: how can we balance the growing globalization with the multiplication of independent nation states? Will the architects of the global free market and global civil society bring about a global meltdown and chaos or prosperity and peace for all?  How will the increasing power of the nongovernmental organizations and social movements at the international level affect the present role of the nation state?  Are we marching toward a clash of civilizations or toward a more harmonious and humane “global village”, or, at least, “global city”?  What will be the future and the role of racial, ethnic, and religious diasporas around the globe? Does globalization imply homogenization, or a colorful world of free individuals, groups, and peoples, or a world of intolerance?  But our task today is not global. We are here to take a closer look at an ethnic group, namely Croatians, in this country and see it from within and analyze its relations to the homeland.  Although our focus is on Croatian diaspora in the US, our discussions can not be isolated from recent events in Southeastern Europe.
Furthermore, we are here today to meet people, share our views, and to hear those of others.  We are here not to start a political movement, to raise funds, or to change the world.  It is time to look at ourselves, at our own problems and virtues. The Association for Croatian Studies is a scholarly organization and its task is to raise issues, to ask questions, to analyze, and make suggestions to those willing to hear them.  By doing that, we hope to make a positive contribution to the Croatian community at large.
Welcome and may all of you have a fruitful and enjoyable day.