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Sarajevo Essays

Politics, Ideology, and Tradition

Rusmir Mahmutcehajic

Publication Year: 2003

One of Bosnia’s leading intellectuals explains the Bosnian experience by critiquing the politics and ideology that brought about the great destruction—both material and spiritual—of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These incisive and theologically profound essays address the confrontation between the West and Islam as the author explores the realm of humanity’s long-standing search for the roots of evil in the dual nature of mankind to gain insight into ways of achieving peace. By drawing on the Bosnian situation, the author explores questions of identity and otherness, knowledge and transcendence, authority and authoritarianism, and tradition and fundamentalism, and he argues for a reconciliation between modernity and tradition for the benefit of modern coexistence, not just in his native land but throughout the world.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Sarajevo’s experience at the turn of the millennium is what unites the essays in this book. Whether their contents are presented in Vienna, Korbula, Cracow, Budapest, Warsaw, London, Verona, or Sarajevo, the same question always arises: the question of human relationships, of the contrast between confidence and the unknown variable of trust—that is, between the mediating effect ...

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1. The Question

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pp. 1-26

To ask: implies two further questions: Where are we now?, and Where have we come from? The changes taking place in the new millennium coincide with a clearer notion of the potential for an open world. The temporal and spatial boundaries of the world do not exhaust its potential; and the view that the material world is not the only one is the first step to opening ...

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2. Tolerance, Ideology, and Tradition

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pp. 27-42

The last few decades of the second Christian millennium have seen a widespread trend towards a heightened affirmation of religion in those areas of life, at both the individual and the social level, from which it seemed to have become detached in the West. This development, which has now become quite marked, must be seen in the context of long-term patterns of ...

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3. Ignorance

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pp. 43-62

The Bosnia that can be said to be known is actually not Bosnia. This assertion, derived from ancient Eastern wisdom, is not mere rhetorical conjecture. It is a paradigm that simultaneously introduces and proffers responses to the paradoxes of the life and knowledge of Bosnia. The admission of ignorance is the highest form of knowledge. Discussing that which is known is mere “indulging ...

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4. Paradigm

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pp. 63-82

The various external influences that have operated on Bosnia have, more often than not, been innately hostile: interpretations of Bosnian history have tended to be slanted or distorted by the constructions that these forces have placed on Bosnia’s history for their own purposes. Nevertheless, in its struggle for survival, Bosnia has endured: its present state reflects the numerous distortions ...

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5. Europe’s “Others”

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pp. 83-98

A mere fifty years elapsed between the Holocaust and the genocide in Bosnia.1 As in most instances of manifestation of evil, here, too, evil is still present after its apparent withdrawal into the proffered oblivion instead of understanding. For most people today, the truth about the Holocaust seems to be just a figment of the prolific human imagination, rather than something that happened ...

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6. The Extremes

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pp. 99-116

The turn of the second millennium in Europe was marked by the widespread killings, persecution, and destruction that took place in Bosnia. It may be that this is an anomalous occurrence in the temporal evolution of uninterrupted progress, as Francis Fukuyama saw it,1 but it is also an important milestone on the path of which the end is known to no one. Seen in the context of this ...

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7. In Bosnia or Against It?

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pp. 117-132

The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina may be perceived as part of a wider process that also includes the break up of Yugoslavia. To this day no comprehensive model has been offered to interpret this process. Furthermore, what we see advocated and adopted are one-sided ideological interpretations that create an illusion of clarity of the process analyzed, but that are intended to ...

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8. On the Self

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pp. 133-148

The deepest and most crucial layer of the Bosnian drama lies in individual selves. The discussions in these essays for the most part touch on different aspects of the outer forms of that drama. They are, however, reflections or manifestations of the inner contents. Understanding them presupposes answers to questions regarding the sources of selfhood in this part of the world and in ...

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9. Whence and Whither?

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pp. 149-168

The aspiration to fulfillment can be met by building a structure that incorporates greater action or higher meaning. It can be met by linking one’s life to some higher reality or narrative. It can be either belonging, in terms of tradition, to those forms of imagination that are typical of premodern times, or embracing the autonomy of the self and its freedom of choice in fostering the ...

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10. The Decline of Modernity

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pp. 169-188

The human self and the cosmos are two aspects of a single revelation—of the sovereignty of God. The revelation they offer is in no way conditional upon the capacity of the individual to receive and reflect this sovereignty. The causality of this chain of revelation descends from the highest link to the lowest: pure and absolute knowledge, the ineffable, is the alpha and omega of creation, the ...

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11. Changing the State of Knowledge

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pp. 189-204

The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is being defined by the currents of European unification. It has no option but to take part in this process, whether through force majeure or its own free will. Fighting against the currents that are irresistibly linking Europe into a single economic, monetary, political, and cultural community will only increase the need for solutions to be imposed ...

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12. At the Turn of the Millennium

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pp. 205-230

Yugoslavia has been visibly disintegrating as a state for ten years now. In common with all such processes, it has brought to light a number of its constituent elements that were not previously evident. In addition, the changes have affected even those elements that used to be organically connected, revealing or suggesting various hidden aspects of individual and collective identities. ...

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pp. 231-236

Bosnia’s survival in the twentieth century vacillated between what appeared to be transient defeats and periods of consolidation. Its nature is determined by these extremes. Apparent defeats are accompanied by the repetition of killing and destruction, and reconsolidation by the rise and manifestation of the elements that humankind projects as its desired image. Thus, Bosnia becomes an ...


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pp. 237-266


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pp. 267-274

Index of Names and Terms

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pp. 275-286

By the Same Author

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pp. 287

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487303
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791456378
Print-ISBN-10: 0791456374

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2003

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Yugoslav War, 1991-1995 -- Bosnia and Hercegovina.
  • Bosnia and Hercegovina -- Politics and government -- 1992-.
  • Bosnia and Hercegovina -- Ethnic relations.
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