Friday, September 14, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [1]

BALKAN IDOLS: Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States

I have only read the introductory sections and first chapter of this book, but I am already intrigued by it and will review it as I go. Perica's book is a study of the political--rather than the cultural or spiritual--aspects of organized religion in the former Yugoslavia, particularly the four "national" religions--Croatian Catholicism, Serbian Orthodoxy, the Islamic Community, and the Macedonian Orthodox Church. He also considers the 'civic religion' of Yugoslavia, the secular religion of "Peace and Brotherhood."

Perica is a native of Yugoslavia who came to the United States at the beginning of the war and has stayed here. He achieved his post-graduate degree here and wrote this book in the US as well, but much of the material he uses was gathered during the decade prior to the outbreak of war in 1991, augmented by information garnered on at least one return visit, and new access to some materials.

This is very much a study of religious institutions and the actions of those institutions; it is also an examination of how these respective "national" religious institutions played their part in the development of these different national identities. As Perica rightly notes in the Preface, this aspect of Yugoslav history has not been properly addressed.

I will begin my review--which I hope to do relatively quickly--tomorrow.

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