Abstract and Keywords
Albanians in the Balkans present a unique socio-political case of how an ‘ethnic’ group’s collective identity is not formed by religion alone. Constituting the majority population in the independent and sovereign states of Albania and Kosovo, and large minorities in Montenegro, Serbia, and Macedonia, scholars choose to identify Albanians firstly as Muslims. However, this association with faith often obscures other factors that contributed to Albanians’ long history of state persecution and the periodic inter-communal conflicts that animate much of the scholarship on Islam in the Balkans today. Albanian Muslims constitute a diffuse and complex set of stories that make any understanding of the larger issues under study dependent on differentiating distinctive Muslim (and ethno-national) communities using various tools. This chapter will help scholars and policy-makers to differentiate between Albanian Muslims and situate their political, socio-economic, and spiritual diversity in the larger context of state and regional life over the last century of European and Balkan life.
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