Accepted Paper:

'Between Europe and the menacing Islam: defending Europe on the borders from the Turks': a representation of identity in religious-political context - an example from Serbia  
Maria Vivod (UMR 7367 Strasbourg France)

Paper short abstract:

Serbia is imagined by an ordinary citizen as in a middle-age status: the last Christian crusader, bleeding in defence of Christianity against Islam the growing evil, sacrificing herself guarding the borders of the ungrateful Europe who is paying the price for her thoughtless politics - the USA deserves 9/11.

Paper long abstract:

In the past 15 years many things have been written and sad about the historical and sociological events in the Balkans, especially in ex-Yugoslavia. In this lecture I would like to study the elements of a political-historical way of speaking of the representation of the Serb national identity, in her active creation of the position of the Serb nation and state in Europe and the world. From the anthropological point of view it would be of special interest to investigate the development of this political speech of parts of the public opinion and of the simple individual, derived from the interpretation of the past historical events by the nationalist historians and politologues.

The civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the interpretation of lower social-classes and the ultra-nationalist political parties, is justified by the later events in the world, especially with 9/11 and the War on Terror, as a part of an all-out war of Christianity against Islam.

This way of speaking is an active process of the individuals, representatives of a nation, based in a search of inspiring moments in the past to relate them with the present ones and to create a 'line of destiny of the Serb people'. One of the examples is the defense system of the Habsburg Monarchy - 'Europe' in the eyes of the Serbs - against the Turkish Empire in the XVI. century, where the Serbs were the base of the so called Militärgrenze, very much used in the contemporary political speeches.

The 'leitmotif' of such a speech are the defense of the whole Christianity (in spite of the fact that the Serbs are orthodox Christians) from Islam, based on the virtues of a patriarchal society and the insufficiently rewarded loyalty of the Western world, Europe, which are the guiding lines of political speeches and 'political discussion' of the ordinary man.

In the form of such speech Serbia is representing itself in her middle age status, bleeding in defense of Christianity against the Turks, both willingly and unwillingly, partially because of her geo-political position on the border of Christianity and sacrificing herself guarding the borders of the ungrateful Europe from the invading Islam.

In this line of representation Islam is a growing evil, Europe is paying the price of her thoughtless politics, the US deserved 9/11 (because of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999), and Serbia is the last Christian crusader. In my lecture I would like to analyze the elements of this speech and the basics of this kind of self-representation, of Christianity and of the image of Europe.

Panel W031
New perspectives on 'European' Christianity