Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Polity on the Brink

Routledge
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First published in 2007. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Oct 15, 2013
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Pages
189
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ISBN
9781134527540
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Although their plight now dominates television news worldwide, the Bosnian Muslims were until recently virtually unknown outside of Yugoslavia. This meticulously researched, comprehensive book traces the turbulent history of the Bosnian Muslims and shows how their mixed secular and religious identity has shaped the conflict in which they are now so tragically embroiled. Although their plight now dominates television news worldwide, the Bosnian Muslims were until recently virtually unknown outside of Yugoslavia. Who are these people? Why are they the focus of their former neighbors rage? What role did they play in Yugoslavia before they became the victims of ethnic cleansing? Why has Bosnia-Hercegovina, once a model of ethnic tolerance and multicultural harmony, suddenly exploded into ethnic violence?Focusing on these questions, Friedman provides a comprehensive study of this national group whose plight has riveted governments, the press, and the public alike. With a name reflecting both their religious and their national identity, the Bosnian Muslims are unique in Europe as indigenous Slavic Muslims. Descendants of schismatic Christians from the Middle Ages, they converted to Islam after the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia.The book follows them as they went from victims of crusades during the Middle Ages to members of the ruling elite within the Ottoman Empire; from rulers back to subjects under Austria-Hungary; and later subjects again, this time under the Serbs in the interwar Yugoslav Kingdom and the Communists after World War II. The Bosnian Muslims have survived through it all, even thriving during certain periods, most notably when they were recognized by Tito as a nation.Meticulously tracing their turbulent history and assessing the issues surrounding Bosnian Muslim nationhood in Yugoslavia, Friedman shows us how the mixed secular and religious identity of the Bosnian Muslims has shaped the conflict in which they are now so tragically embroiled.
"The wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in neighboring Croatia and Kosovo grabbed the attention of the western world not only because of their ferocity and their geographic location, but also because of their timing. This violence erupted at the exact moment when the cold war confrontation was drawing to a close, when westerners were claiming their liberal values as triumphant, in a country that had only a few years earlier been seen as very well placed to join the west. In trying to account for this outburst, most western journalists, academics, and policymakers have resorted to the language of the premodern: tribalism, ethnic hatreds, cultural inadequacy, irrationality; in short, the Balkans as the antithesis of the modern west. Yet one of the most striking aspects of the wars in Yugoslavia is the extent to which the images purveyed in the western press and in much of the academic literature are so at odds with evidence from on the ground."—from The Myth of Ethnic WarV. P. Gagnon Jr. believes that the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s were reactionary moves designed to thwart populations that were threatening the existing structures of political and economic power. He begins with facts at odds with the essentialist view of ethnic identity, such as high intermarriage rates and the very high percentage of draft-resisters. These statistics do not comport comfortably with the notion that these wars were the result of ancient blood hatreds or of nationalist leaders using ethnicity to mobilize people into conflict.Yugoslavia in the late 1980s was, in Gagnon's view, on the verge of large-scale sociopolitical and economic change. He shows that political and economic elites in Belgrade and Zagreb first created and then manipulated violent conflict along ethnic lines as a way to short-circuit the dynamics of political change. This strategy of violence was thus a means for these threatened elites to demobilize the population. Gagnon's noteworthy and rather controversial argument provides us with a substantially new way of understanding the politics of ethnicity.
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