Unblocking the sacred: new perspectives on the religious revival in South East Europe

Emil Hilton Saggau


A line of studies of contemporary religion in South East Europe links resurgent nationalism together with the revival of religion. These studies argue that nationalism are grounded on a re-use of religion and assumption of many former religious functions. This type of argument has become a key feature of social scientific studies of religion in the region, as already Daniela Kalkandjieva has pointed out in a 2011 study. In cases from Yugoslavia this argumentation and connection of religion and nationalism has blocked for a more nuanced description of the religious transformation of the religious communities in the period after the fall of communism. The local religious transformation of heritages, holy sites, communities and clergy are too often diminished and religion is instead interpreted to be “proxies”, “scenes” or “agents” for nationalism. The category of religion is emptied and nationalism seems to be all there is to say about religion.
In this article it will be discussed what the danger are in such a simplification and, how it is possible to unblock the study of religion in the South East European context. This will be done through a critical revisiting of studies of religion in Montenegro and exemplified on some central cases from Montenegro. It is the intention of this article to craft a revised analytic strategy that on the one side keeps the attention on the connection between religion and nationalism, but at the same time acknowledge religion as a category in itself. Such an analytic frame can be used to nuance studies of religion in South East Europe.


Religion, Nationalism, State-church relationsship, South East Europe, Montenegro,

Full Text:


DOI (PDF): https://doi.org/10.20413/rascee.2018.11.1.39-55


  • There are currently no refbacks.