Islam and Women in the Balkans
Lecture by Dr Ina Merdjanova
In spite of the powerful secularisation processes under communism and the ensuing transformation of religious institutions, authorities, practices, and levels of faith commitment, the religious factor remained an important cultural force and identity marker in the Balkans. Moreover, religious outlooks continued to shape and inform gender regimes.
Postcommunist developments in the Balkans brought about a significant redefinition of the roles and status of Muslim women—both in the Muslim communities themselves and in the larger societies. Drawing on literature from the region and on my own fieldwork, I will discuss the shifting roles of Muslim women in different spheres of life such as the family, religious education and the public arena under national and transnational Islamic influences.
Ina Merdjanova is a senior researcher and adjunct assistant professor in religious studies at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, & Leverhulme visiting professor at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. She had held visiting fellowships at Oxford University, Birmingham University, Edinburgh University, New York University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Central European University in Budapest, Radboud University in Nijmegen and Aleksanteri Institute at Helsinki University. Dr. Merdjanova has also won research grants from the British Academy, DAAD, Volkswagen Foundation, the Unites State Institute of Peace, and the European Commission. She is the author of four monograohs and numerous articles on religion and politics in post-communist society. Her recent publications include Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans (with Patrice Brodeur; Continuum, 2009, paperback 2011), and Rediscovering the Umma: Muslims in the Balkans between Nationalism and Transnationalism (Oxford University Press, 2013, paperback 2016).