Bosnia is often viewed as a country of multiculturalism, or on the contrary, as a land of genuine hatred between different nations and religions. This paper's aim is to question these attitudes which simplify the image of Bosnian culture. The analysis of a few 19 th century texts, among them memories, ethnographical relations and letters, shows how the past can be interpreted. The paper emphasizes categories of social identity used by habitants of Bosnia, confronting them with social practices. In that way, it becomes clear that contemporary categories of nation and religion are not sufficient to describe the social divisions in 19 th century Bosnia. The sense of social affiliation was formed, according not only to ethnic identities, and these cannot be considered as equivalent to contemporary ones. A conclusion is that research on Bosnian culture should consider diverse social factors and levels of analysis.