Organizing and Sustaining Hegemony: A Gramscian Perspective on the Islamic Community and Wahhabism in Bosnia

presented in the 2nd Annual South-East Europe Doctoral Student Conference, organized by South-East European Research Center of the University of Sheffield and CITY Liberal Studies, 22-23 June 2007, Thessaloniki, Greece.

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Bosnian Muslims, Gramsci, Hegemony, Islamic Community (Islamska Zajednica), Wahhabism

In the last fifteen years, Bosnia has drawn considerable attention due to the 1992-95 war and the continuing presence of the reformist salafi movement so-called Wahhabism in Bosnia. Within the broader framework of discussions regarding Bosnia’s possibility to be a hotbed for terrorist attacks to the West and the Wahhabi influence superseding the moderate, Hanafi experience of Islam practiced by the Bosnian Muslims and represented officially by the Islamic Community, this paper raises two basic questions: (1) Whether and how can the IZ organize and sustain its hegemony vis-à-vis the so-called Wahhabi movement, and (2) What will the consequences of this struggle over hegemony in between religious representations and politics be in the private and public realms at domestic and regional levels?
I argue that, against criticism accusing it to be silent and unnecessarily tolerant towards these groups, the IZ chose a different strategy to preserve its authority and the traditional identity of the Bosnian Muslims. Within the framework of the Gramscian approach on hegemony, its motive can be regarded as a wise measure to strengthen to its own leadership on a consensual basis by revitalizing its legitimizing discourse and re-configuring necessary alliances horizontally and vertically, rather than applying coercion.

Onder Cetin_DSC 2007