The Bosnian Muslims: Denial of a Nation

The Bosnian Muslims: Denial of a Nation

The Bosnian Muslims: Denial of a Nation

The Bosnian Muslims: Denial of a Nation


Here, Francine Friedman provides a comprehensive portrait of the Bosnian Muslims as a people and as a nation. She traces their history and shows how their mixed secular and religious identity has shaped the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.


The entity we once knew as Yugoslavia has exploded into a number of as yet territorially undefined landscapes. Yugoslavia's fascinating mixture of domestic unity for foreign policy purposes paired with internal instability because of the centrifugal forces engendered by national particularism have kept academicians and international decisionmakers alike interested in that country's fate. Undoubtedly, its new visage in the post-Cold War era will rivet international attention for a long time to come.

The unique Yugoslav domestic and international relations before its breakup were frequently described by a characterization attributed to Sir Fitzroy McClean, who came to know Yugoslavia well during his World War II sojourn there. The quip went that Yugoslavia possessed seven neighbors, six republics, five nations, four languages, three religions, two alphabets, and only one Yugoslav -- Tito. Later the remark no longer applied, not only because the "only real Yugoslav" died in 1980 but also because a new nation was recognized -- the Bosnian Muslims.

This book traces the origins of the Bosnian Muslims, following their maturation from relative international obscurity to important political actor in Yugoslavia to contemporary victim of ethnic cleansing. The introduction presents the problem of the Bosnian Muslims and provides a broad overview of conceptual concerns in the study of ethnicity while introducing the definitions and conceptual tools this volume employs. Chapters 1 through 8 examine the political and social development of this group from the Middle Ages to the present, chronicling both domestic and international influences that may have produced their precarious contemporary position. The final chapter reflects on the odyssey of the Bosnian Muslims as an illustration of the fact that we would be wise to view international affairs not merely from the conventional perspective whereby events are interpreted and decisions are made solely in the context of clashing governmental interests. Instead, we should also view certain international events as consequences of the search for ethnic identity.

I first undertook the research for this book many years ago, believing scholars of the Balkans had for the most part overlooked an interesting and increasingly significant group within Yugoslavia. Resources on this subject were surprisingly few and, with some notable exceptions, not overly scholarly or analytical. I had hoped that my research would fill a small gap in the literature on the Yugoslav peoples.

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