Europe’s Balkan Muslims
A New History
Translated by Andrew Kirby
Clayer and Bougarel’s prodigiously researched book is a political and institutional history of the Muslims of south-east Europe since the nineteenth century, focusing on empires, states, political parties, and religious institutions.
There are roughly eight million Muslims in south-east Europe, among them Albanians, Bosniaks, Turks and Roma — descendants of converts or settlers in the Ottoman period. This new history of the social, political and religious transformations that this population experienced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — a period marked by the collapse of the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires and by the creation of the modern Balkan states — will shed new light on the European Muslim experience.
South-east Europe’s Muslims have experienced a slow and complex crystallisation of their respective national identities, which accelerated after 1945 as a result of the authoritarian modernisation of communist regimes and, in the late twentieth century, ended in nationalist mobilisations that precipitated the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
At a religious level, these populations have remained connected to the institutions established by the Ottoman Empire, as well as to various educational, intellectual and Sufi (mystic) networks. With the fall of communism, new transnational networks appeared, especially neo-Salafist and neo- Sufi ones, although Europe’s Balkan Muslims have not escaped the wider processes of secularisation.
A specialist on Albanian Islam, Nathalie Clayer is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Turkish, Ottoman, Balkan and Central Asian Studies at EHESS in Paris. She is also a historian of religion and nationalism in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman eras.
Xavier Bougarel is a researcher at the Centre for Turkish, Ottoman, Balkan and Central Asian Studies at EHESS in Paris. He also specialises in Islam in south-east Europe and the wars in the former Yugoslavia
‘Written by two of the most distinguished French scholars of Southeastern Europe and Islam, and appearing here in an outstanding translation from French, this is the most comprehensive existing survey of the Balkan Muslims in the last two centuries. Its interpretative strength lies in the rare combination between sophisticated historiographical analysis and clarity of exposition.’ — Maria Todorova, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign