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Denial and Repression of Anti-Semitism

Post-Communist Rehabilitation of the Serbian Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic

By Jovan Byford

Publication Year: 2008

Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović (1881–1956) is arguably one the most controversial figures in contemporary Serbian national culture. Having been vilified by the former Yugoslav Communist authorities as a fascist and an antisemite, this Orthodox Christian thinker has over the past two decades come to be regarded in Serbian society as the most important religious person since medieval times and an embodiment of the authentic Serbian national spirit. Velimirović was formally canonised by the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2003. In this book, Jovan Byford charts the posthumous transformation of Velimirović from ‘traitor’ to ‘saint’ and examines the dynamics of repression and denial that were used to divert public attention from the controversies surrounding the bishop’s life, the most important of which is his antisemitism. Byford offers the first detailed examination of the way in which an Eastern Orthodox Church manages controversy surrounding the presence of antisemitism within its ranks and he considers the implications of the continuing reverence of Nikolaj Velimirović for the persistence of antisemitism in Serbian Orthodox culture and in Serbian society as a whole.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-11

My thanks are due first to the Hebrew University’s Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) for providing financial support for the research project that resulted in this book. I am especially grateful to...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-18

Recent years have seen a rise in interest in the topic of “collective memory” among historians, sociologists, political scientists, and psychologists (Irwin-Zarecka, 1994; Kansteiner, 2002; Maier 1997; Middleton & Edwards, 1990; Misztal, 2003; Olick, 1999; Wertsch, 2002). Although...

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2. The Life of Nikolaj Velimirović and His Changing Public Image, 1945–2003

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pp. 19-76

Nikolaj Velimirović was born on January 5, 1881 (December 23, 1880, according to the Julian calendar still used by the Serbian Orthodox Church) in the small village of Lelić, located outside the western Serbian town...

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3. Collective Remembering and Collective Forgetting: Memory of Nikolaj Velimirović and the Repression of Controversy

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pp. 77-113

Bearing in mind the controversies surrounding the biography of Nikolaj Velimirović which were examined in the previous chapter, it might be argued that the maintenance of the positive memory of his life and legacy involves...

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4. From Repression to Denial: Responses of the Serbian Orthodox Church to Accusations of Antisemitism

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pp. 115-149

The discussion of the role of repression in Velimirović’s rehabilitation focused primarily on material which dates back to the late 1980s and the early 1990s, and therefore to the early stages of the bishop’s return to the mainstream...

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5. “He was merely quoting the Bible!”: Denial of Velimirović’s Antisemitism

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pp. 151-205

The previous chapter highlighted the frequency with which the narrative of national self-glorification and the rhetoric of literal and comparative denial appear in ecclesiastical and nationalist discourse, whenever the topic of antisemitism...

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6. Antisemitism as Prophecy: Social Construction of Velimirović’s Sanctity

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pp. 207-230

On 19 May 2003, the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church announced its “unanimous and undisputed decision” to “include the name of Nikolaj (Velimirović), bishop of Ohrid and Žiča, in the calendar...

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 231-238

The main aim of the present study has been to explore the dynamics of repression and denial constitutive of the rehabilitation of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović over the past twenty or so years. It has examined a variety of discursive...


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pp. 239-259


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pp. 261-269


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pp. 282-290

E-ISBN-13: 9786155211546
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776159

Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1st