The revival of Islam in the post-communist Balkans : coercive nationalisms and new pathways to God
Title: The revival of Islam in the post-communist Balkans : coercive nationalisms and new pathways to God
Author: ELBASANI, Arolda
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2015/28; RELIGIOWEST
The Islamic ‘revival’ in the Balkans has raised many questions among mainstream politicians and academics, who tend to look at religion as a repository of ethno-national identities, and hence a risky ‘depot’, furthering divisions between and among national entities. How believers themselves discover, articulate and experience their faith, is often lost in the grand narratives of nations’ assumed uniformity and the related criteria of inclusion and exclusion. This article shifts the analytical focus from nation-centric debates on the revival of Islam to believers’ personalized discovery, practice and pursuit of faith since the fall of Communism. The analysis suggests a bifurcation between state authorities and centralized Islamic hierarchies that view Islam as an important marker of identity on the one hand, and emerging faith communities that rely upon alternative sources of knowledge and authority on the other. All the while, the Islamic phenomenon is no longer only the bearer of ethno-national alternatives, but also the symptom of new spaces that blend a variety of new actors as well as overlapping national, regional and global processes.
Subject: Islam; Religion and politics; National identity; Faith communities; Balkans
Grant number: FP7/269860
Type of Access: openAccess