Public Lecture: Muslims in the Balkans between Nationalism and Transnationalism

Dr Ina Merdjanova
Coventry University London Campus: G03 & G04
Thursday 7th March 2019
6pm- 6.30pm: Refreshments
6.30pm-8pm: Lecture/Q&A

After 1989, Islam reappeared as an important social and political factor in the Balkans. With the newly-emerged religious freedom, and in the context of multiple structural and cultural post-communist transitions, Muslim communities underwent remarkable transformations. They sought to renegotiate their place in formally secular legal and normative environments, mostly as minorities in majority-Christian societies. They reclaimed their Islamic faith, practices and identities in a complex geopolitical situation dominated by anti-Muslim sentiments, particularly after 9/11, which mapped upon already existing national and regional apprehension of Islam related to the legacies of the five centuries of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Post-communism created conditions for a rising political and cultural awareness of Muslims, which was frequently expressed by recourse to two frames of reference: the national and the transnational. Despite a certain level of tension between those two perspectives, they were closely intertwined. Generally, it can be argued that transnational Islamic influences in the region often reinforced Muslim ethno-national identities rather than prompting a radical redefinition of religious allegiances in the key of a “universalist” Islam.

Bio:  Ina Merdjanova is a senior researcher and adjunct assistant professor in religious studies at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, & Leverhulme visiting professor at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.  Her recent publications include Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans (with Patrice Brodeur; Continuum, 2009, paperback 2011), and Rediscovering the Umma: Muslims in the Balkans between Nationalism and Transnationalism (Oxford University Press, 2013, paperback 2016).