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The challenge of the Ottoman legacy: Yugoslav nation-building and South Slav Muslim togetherness in interwar Yugoslavia

Book Contribution - Chapter

The inclusion of symbolic resources related to South Slav Muslim collective identity in the educational material of the interwar Yugoslav state reveals a growing sensitivity for South Slav Muslim religious identity. The integration of these symbolic resources within Yugoslav nationhood took place along the broader pattern of the parallel nationalisation of the various religious traditions among the Yugoslav population. Intellectual representatives of South Slav Muslims repudiated the concretisation of this template for two related reasons. First, definitions of Yugoslav nationhood were informed by an overarching division between Occident and Orient. Consequently, South Slav Muslims occupied the hybrid position of an oriental element within the essentially Christian Yugoslav nation. Second, the state’s nationalities policy assumed the Serbian ‘tribal’ affiliation of South Slav Muslims, which again carried certain religious claims with it. Representatives of South Slav Muslims rejected the close intertwining of religion and nationhood that substantiated these definitions of Yugoslav nationhood and suggested the complete division of religion and nationhood and the independent concurrence of Muslim religious togetherness and national affiliation with the nation-state. This diverging understanding of Yugoslav nationhood explains the growing relevance of a sense of South Slav Muslim religious and national togetherness.
Book: (Mis)Understanding the Balkans : essays in Honour of Raymond Detrez
Pages: 123 - 134
Publication year:2013