Balkan Idols

Balkan Idols : Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States

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Description

Reporting from the heartland of Yugoslavia in the 1970s, "Washington Post" correspondent Dusko Doder described "a landscape of Gothic spires, Islamic mosques, and Byzantine domes." A quarter of a century later, this landscape lay in ruins. In addition to claiming tens of thousands of lives, the former Yugoslavia's four wars ravaged over a thousand religious buildings, many purposefully destroyed by Serbs, Albanians, and Croats alike, providing an apt architectural metaphor for the region's recent history. Rarely has the human impulse toward monocausality - the need for a single explanation - been in greater evidence than in Western attempts to make sense of the country's bloody dissolution. From Rober Kaplan's controversial "Balkan Ghosts", which identified entrenched ethnic hatreds as the driving force behind Yugoslavia's demise, to NATO's dogged pursuit and arrest of Slobodan Milosevic, the quest for easy answers has frequently served to obscure the Balkans' complex history. Based on a wide range of South Slav sources and previously unpublished, often confidential documents from communist state archives, as well as on the author's own on-the-ground experience as a journalist, this text explores the political role and influence of Serbian Orthodox, Croatian Catholic, and Yugoslav Muslim religious organizations over the course of the 20th century. Vjekoslav Perica emphatically rejects the notion that a "clash of civilizations" has played a central role in formenting aggression. He finds no compelling evidence of an upsurge in religious fervour among the general population. Rather, he concludes, the primary religious players in the conflicts have been activist clergy. This activism, Perica argues, allowed the clergy to assume political power without the accountability faced by democratically-elected officials. What emerges from Perica's account is a deeply nuanced understanding of the history and troubled future of one of the world's most volatile regions.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 362 pages
  • 163.1 x 240.3 x 27.2mm | 635.04g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 12 halftones, 4 maps, chronology, maps
  • 0195148568
  • 9780195148565

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgements; Note on Pronunciation and Foreign Language Terms; 1. Introduction: Nation and Religion; 2. The First Strife: Religion as Catalyst of Crises in the 1930s and 1940s and Cease-Fire in the 1960s; 3. The Other Serbia: Serbian Church in the Communist Federation; 4. The Catholic Church and the Making of the Croatian Nation, 1970-1984; 5. Bosnian Ulema and Muslim Nationalism; 6. United We Stand, Divided we Fall: The Civil Religion of Brotherhood and Unity; 7. Mary-making in Herzegovina: From Apparitions to Partitions; 8. Flames and Shrines: Serbian Church and Serb National Movement in the 1980s; 9. The Second Strife: Religion as Catalyst of Crisis in the 1980s; 10. Religion as hallmark of nationhood; 11. The Twilight of Balkan Idols; 12. Conclusions; Chronology; Mapsshow more

About Vjekoslav Perica

A former reporter for the Croatian weekly Nedjeljna Dalmacija and Research Fellow at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The United States Institute of Peace, Vjekoslav Perica is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of History at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota.show more

Review quote

"This is the first political history of the three principal organized religions in postwar Yugoslavia and its successor states: the Croatian Catholic Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Islamic community. Perica carefully explores the relationships of each to Tito's Yugoslavia, to one another, to the wars, and to the new states. The Serbian and Croatian churches, in particular, have long arrogated the definition of nationhood to themselves. Because ecumenical moments in Yugoslavia were few, empathy for those of another faith was limited, and commitment to an open-armed, united Yugoslavia was weak, the link between religion and nationalism was neither liberal in the communist period nor benevolent during communism's collapse. All too often, the role of the churches--at times the leadership, at other times the clergy--has been to enlarge the sense of victimhood and to justify revenge."--Foreign Affairs"The book presents both new sources and an original argument, which is indeed (as Dusko Doder said in an advance praise) 'shockingly provocative'... It is an exciting, well-researched and enormously useful contribution to the--by now already very large--body of literature on the roots of the problems which resulted in the disintegration of Yugoslavia."--Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans"The book makes two major contributions. It provides a detailed reconstruction of the roles of Serbian Orthodox, Croation Catholic, and Bosnian Muslim churches in providing a religious base for nationalist thought and movements in the past century, and uses this evidence in the author's argument that a link exists among religious institutions, symbols, and practices in state-formation and state-deconstruction. Highly recommended."--Choice "This is the first political history of the three principal organized religions in postwar Yugoslavia and its successor states: the Croatian Catholic Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Islamic community. Perica carefully explores the relationships of each to Tito's Yugoslavia, to one another, to the wars, and to the new states. The Serbian and Croatian churches, in particular, have long arrogated the definition of nationhood to themselves. Because ecumenical moments in Yugoslavia were few, empathy for those of another faith was limited, and commitment to an open-armed, united Yugoslavia was weak, the link between religion and nationalism was neither liberal in the communist period nor benevolent during communism's collapse. All too often, the role of the churches--at times the leadership, at other times the clergy--has been to enlarge the sense of victimhood and to justify revenge."--Foreign Affairs "The book presents both new sources and an original argument, which is indeed (as Dusko Doder said in an advance praise) 'shockingly provocative'... It is an exciting, well-researched and enormously useful contribution to the--by now already very large--body of literature on the roots of the problems which resulted in the disintegration of Yugoslavia."--Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans "The book makes two major contributions. It provides a detailed reconstruction of the roles of Serbian Orthodox, Croation Catholic, and Bosnian Muslim churches in providing a religious base for nationalist thought and movements in the past century, and uses this evidence in the author's argument that a link exists among religious institutions, symbols, and practices instate-formation and state-deconstruction. Highly recommended."--Choice "This is the first political history of the three principal organized religions in postwar Yugoslavia and its successor states: the Croatian Catholic Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Islamic community. Perica carefully explores the relationships of each to Tito's Yugoslavia, to one another, to the wars, and to the new states. The Serbian and Croatian churches, in particular, have long arrogated the definition of nationhood to themselves. Because ecumenical moments in Yugoslavia were few, empathy for those of another faith was limited, and commitment to an open-armed, united Yugoslavia was weak, the link between religion and nationalism was neither liberal in the communist period nor benevolent during communism's collapse. All too often, the role of the churches--at times the leadership, at other times the clergy--has been to enlarge the sense of victimhood and to justify revenge."--Foreign Affairs "The book presents both new sources and an original argument, which is indeed (as Dusko Doder said in an advance praise) 'shockingly provocative'... It is an exciting, well-researched and enormously useful contribution to the--by now already very large--body of literature on the roots of the problems which resulted in the disintegration of Yugoslavia."--Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans "The book makes two major contributions. It provides a detailed reconstruction of the roles of Serbian Orthodox, Croation Catholic, and Bosnian Muslim churches in providing a religious base for nationalist thought and movements in the past century, and uses this evidence in the author's argument that a link existsamong religious institutions, symbols, and practices in state-formation and state-deconstruction. Highly recommended."--Choice "This is the first political history of the three principal organized religions in postwar Yugoslavia and its successor states: the Croatian Catholic Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Islamic community. Perica carefully explores the relationships of each to Tito's Yugoslavia, to oneanother, to the wars, and to the new states. The Serbian and Croatian churches, in particular, have long arrogated the definition of nationhood to themselves. Because ecumenical moments in Yugoslavia were few, empathy for those of another faith was limited, and commitment to an open-armed, unitedYugoslavia was weak, the link between religion and nationalism was neither liberal in the communist period nor benevolent during communism's collapse. All too often, the role of the churches--at times the leadership, at other times the clergy--has been to enlarge the sense of victimhood and tojustify revenge."--Foreign Affairs"The book presents both new sources and an original argument, which is indeed (as Dusko Doder said in an advance praise) 'shockingly provocative'... It is an exciting, well-researched and enormously useful contribution to the--by now already very large--body of literature on the roots of theproblems which resulted in the disintegration of Yugoslavia."--Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans"The book makes two major contributions. It provides a detailed reconstruction of the roles of Serbian Orthodox, Croation Catholic, and Bosnian Muslim churches in providing a religious base for nationalist thought and movements in the past century, and uses this evidence in the author's argumentthat a link exists among religious institutions, symbols, and practicesin state-formation and state-deconstruction. Highly recommended."--Choiceshow more

Rating details

12 ratings
3.08 out of 5 stars
5 8% (1)
4 33% (4)
3 17% (2)
2 42% (5)
1 0% (0)
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