Accepted Paper:

Veiled women and bearded men: transforming Muslim identities in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina  

Author:

Andreja Mesaric (Moroccan Children's Trust)

Paper short abstract:

The paper focuses on the transformations of identities and communities in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly through the prism of Muslim dress and veiling, as well as other religious practices. It explores what resources different people are using in order to reconstruct their identities as Muslims, Bosniaks and Bosnians.

Paper long abstract:

The paper, based on ethnographic research in Sarajevo, focuses on the transformations of identities and communities in post-war Bosnian-Herzegovinian society, mainly through the prism of Muslim dress and veiling, as well as other religious practices. The paper looks at veiling, and other Muslim dress practices, including men's dress, as a transnational phenomenon that is nevertheless always inflected by the local situation in which it is given shape. In the Bosnian context different forms of Muslim dress, as well as references to it, can be indicative and form part of wider processes of social change and identity transformations. Most importantly, they do not influence only Muslim - non-Muslim relations, but are, along with other religious practices, also crucial in negotiating new relationships among Muslims themselves. Many Bosniaks (i.e. Bosnian Muslims) who see themselves as modern and European, look upon veiling as foreign to the Bosnian tradition. These questions are further confounded by the presence and influence of transnational networks and organisations, mainly of Salafi orientation, that appeared during and after the war in the 1990s, which commonly denounce many traditional Bosnian Muslim practices as non-Islamic. Questions and debates often centre on what is Islamic and what belongs to the Bosnian tradition, with differing interpretations of how they relate to, or exclude each other. The aim of this paper is to explore how different people, men and women, draw on these discursive resources in order to reconstruct their own identities as Muslims, Bosniaks and Bosnians.

Panel W098
Islam within and across religiously diverse communities: case studies from Muslims in the Balkans and Europe