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date: 26 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Between 1990 and 2010, the political map of the Balkans and Caucasus changed as Communist regimes collapsed and border disputes escalated. Some of the most bitter conflicts were in areas where there were mixed populations with large ‘minority’ populations that did not recognize potential changes in their borders (Russians in Chechnya or Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo). Religious identities, heavily repressed during the Communist era, became a defining part of the rejection of that system. A revival of militant Islamism after the success of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979 radicalized politics in both the Balkans and the Caucasus. In the former Yugoslavia, Serb nationalists claimed that they were fighting against Islamic encroachment, which became effectively a self-fulfilling prophecy after 11 September 2001. Successionists and politicians eager to redraw boundaries cynically exploited the idea of an ideological purpose and traditional identities under threat to motivate and legitimize armed resistance.

Keywords: communism, Yugoslavia, Serb nationalists, militant Islamism, Kosovo, religious identity, Caucasus, Balkans

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