Balkan Idols: Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States / Edition 1

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Overview

Based on a wide range of South Slav sources and previously unpublished, often confidential, documents from communist state archives, as well as on the author's own on-the-ground experience, Balkan Idols explores the political role and influence of Serbian Orthodox, Croatian Catholic, and Yugoslav Muslim religious organizations over the course of the last century. Vjekoslav Perica emphatically rejects the notion that a "clash of civilizations" has played a central role in fomenting aggression. He finds no compelling evidence of an upsurge in religious fervor 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.
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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
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.
From the Publisher

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195174298
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2004
  • Series: Religion and Global Politics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

Note on Pronunciation and Foreign Language Terms
Chronology
Maps
1 Religion, Ethnicity, and Nationhood 3
2 The First Strife: The Crisis of the 1930s, War, and the Cease-Fire of the 1960 17
3 The Other Serbia: The Serbian Church in the Communist Federation 43
4 The Catholic Church and the Making of the Croatian Nation, 1970-1984 56
5 The Bosnian Ulema and Muslim Nationalism 74
6 United We Stand, Divided We Fall: The Civil Religion of Brotherhood and Unity 89
7 Mary-making in Herzegovina: From Apparitions to Partitions 109
8 Flames and Shrines: The Serbian Church and Serbian Nationalist Movement in the 1980s 123
9 The Second Strife: Religion as the Catalyst of the Crisis in the 1980s and 1990s 133
10 Religion as Hallmark of Nationhood 165
11 The Twilight of Balkan Idols 186
12 Conclusions 211
Notes 245
Selected Bibliography 309
Index 325
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