Omer was a brave survivor of the ethnic wars in the Balkans in the 1990s. I knew very little about my Croatian heritage when we met at Oberlin. I've since learned that I'm related to a large number of Petricks and Pavics who live in Slavonia, Croatia's northern agricultural area. I've traveled many times to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzogovina, and one of my sons has become an expert Balkanist. This news would have made Omer smile.
Here is a computer-generated translation of his obituary.
1 In Chicago, on November 30, 2016, after a serious illness, but for friends who followed his illness from afar, Professor Dr. Omer Hadžiselimovic died unexpectedly. Omer Hadžiselimovic was a man with an exceptional life of will and sent optimistic messages to friends, as in the years he and his wife Esmo and younger daughter Dino in besieged Sarajevo, in the absence, extreme insecurity and daily confrontation of the previously unimaginable war fears, even in times of severe illness, announcing an imminent improvement in health. In the besieged Sarajevo, he was caught by a camera by an American television cameraman riding on a bicycle with a large container and all the speed he could get drinking water. At one of these feats, he escaped a sniper's missile that hit a water tank. Twenty-three years later, he failed to escape the fatal outcome of the disease. He lost his battle with a disease stronger than immense faith in a life that did not leave him even in the most difficult moments.
2Omer Hadžiselimovic studied Anglicans and Germanics at the Faculty of Arts in Sarajevo, where he graduated in 1970. Two years later, he earned a master's degree from Oberlin College, Ohio, and in 1978 at the Faculty of Arts in Sarajevo he defended his doctoral dissertation entitled American Social Novel in criticism in the Serbo-Croatian language field, which was published in book form in 1980 by the publishing house Svijetlost in Sarajevo. In 1972 he became an assistant professor of English and American literature at the Department of Anglicans, Sarajevo, and in 1978 he was elected assistant professor and in 1981 as an associate professor and in 1990 a full professor. In his lectures and seminars, he addressed various topics from recent English and American literature and cultural and social history of Great Britain and the United States, and studied and as a lecturer at foreign universities and scientific institutions, including the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, the University of Indiana Bloomington in the United States, and the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin. From 1990 to 1991 he was Fullbright's scholar and, after being elected professor, he was head of the Department of Anglicans, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and President of the Faculty of Arts.
In 1994, he and his wife, Esma, decided to leave besieged Sarajevo with their daughter Dina and leave the United States, where their daughter Belma had been educated since the early 1990s. "When you become an emigrant, you lose a lot, or you're on your way to losing a lot: your country, your culture, your friends," he noted in a 2010 essay titled The Fate of the Emigrant: Two Lives for the Price of One, which he published a year later in the journal Two Homelands of the Institute for Slovenian Emigration. , a new experience, and maybe even new friends. The tension between loss and winning – in terms of expenditure and income on the account of life – gives you the impression that you are living two lives, one you have left behind and the other that you are currently living. You haven't completely left your old life yet and you're not fully integrated into the new one." The Hajjiselimovici first found a new home in Richmond, Indiana. Omer taught at Earlham College in Richmond, and occasionally lectured at Indiana University in Bloomington and led a seminary of students at nearby universities in Ohio. In the new living and working environment, he became an American "bosnian" in his own words. My teaching work hasn't changed much," but "I used to study America from Bosnia, and now I'm focusing on Balkan studies and Bosnia in reading, research and writing," he wrote. After six years of living and working in Richmond, he moved with his family to Chicago, where he continued teaching at Lake Forest College and at North Park and Loyola universities. At last, he was a part-time lecturer in American studies, comparative literature and immersive literature in the Department of Anglicans. 4
4Saiment of immersive literature was already devoted in Sarajevo, where in 1989 his high-profile book On the Gates of Istok, Engleski putnica on Bosnia and Herzegovina from the 16th to 20th century, was published, which was also reported in the Historical Newspaper.2 In it he collected, commented and translated the records of British travellers, which, at that time, mostly travelled to or from Istanbul to travel through Bosnia and Herzegovina and reported on the situation there, noting that British interest in the Southern 19th part of the Balkans had increased only with an increased Western European interest in the "Eastern issue" in the 1940s, with British travellers having no specific understanding and hearing for the situation in the border areas between Christian and Islamic Europe and were not described and judged in rare cases and were not described and judged in rare cases. , as if travelling through Afghanistan or Africa. After moving to the United States, he reworked and completed the book and published it in English in 2001 in the collection of eastern European monographs of the Department of Germanic and Slavic languages at the University of Boulder in the state of Colorado.3 In various American journals and electronic newsletters, he published several articles and discussions about bosnian history and the history of Bosnian Muslims, at the same time, he was preparing a book on the travel records of British travellers on Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 20th century, which he unfortunately failed to complete. He also addressed historical topics carefully in articles and discussions in the fields of American studies and American and British literature. When we met and became close in 1982 during a study trip around the United States, my discussions with our American colleagues on the then-complicated issues of American history helped Omer's remarkable knowledge of American histories and insuading historians and unsealing historians.
5Omer Hadžiselimovic has been a member of the editorial board of the bilingual English-Bosnian electronic three-month Spirit of Bosnia/Spirit of Bosnia since its establishment in 2006, publishing scientific and other articles on the history, literature and politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was also an active member in 2007 at the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bosnian-Herceg American Academy of Arts and Sciences (BHAAAS). Already during his life and work in Sarajevo, he gained a reputation as an excellent literary translator, and after moving to the United States he translated poetry (among others, Bosnian poets Mark Vešovic and Milorad Pejic, with whom he was linked by a long-standing friendship). The interviews with the translator and literary historian Zvonimiro Radeljkovic were also a little attention,with the American writer Susan Sontag and the Nigerian writer Chinuo Achebe (the prose texts of the last one he also translated).
6Omer Hadžiselimovic was a very pleasant, direct and witty interlocutor. Slovenian historians met him at the conventions of the American Association for Slavic Studies and at his home in Chicago, and some of us met him during his life and work in Sarajevo and have been friends and working closely with him ever since. To all of us who knew him, it remains an unforgettable memory.
1. Omer Hadžiselimovic, "An Immigrant's Deal: Two Lives for the Price of One," Two Homelands/Two Homelands, No. 33 (2011): 191-94.
2. Peter Vodopivec, "Omer Hadžiselimovic, On the Gates of Istok. Engleski putnici on Bosnia and Herzegovina from 16 to 20. Sarajevo: Veselin Masleša 1989," Historical newspaper 45, No 1 (1991): 160–62.
3. Omer Hadziselimovic, At the Gates of the East: British Travel Writers on Bosnia and 2001 from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries.
Looking forward to seeing you at the reunion, in one form or another. What is your area of specialization?
Jeanne was a wonderful friend of mine while we were at Oberlin, and later, as a physician, was an early, vocal, and tireless fighter against AIDS, when few others could or would do so. When a another friend of mine was diagnosed with AIDS in the late 1980s, I called her out of the blue, to seek advice. She took my call and helped, immensely.
Hi Al. It’s been way too long since we’ve been in contact. I hope things are going well for you and your family. If things all line up, maybe we can see each other in Oberlin for our 50th. FIFTIETH. Wow.