Violence as a Means of Nation-Building: The Case of the Balkans (1890-1913)

Arisan M.

JOURNAL OF MUSLIM MINORITY AFFAIRS, vol.39, pp.395-410, 2019 (Journal Indexed in ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 39 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13602004.2019.1654192
  • Page Numbers: pp.395-410


The paper considers the rise of the violent nationalist movements in the Ottoman Empire and questions the violent basis of these nationalisms. In the first place, the paper points out Western Europe as the source of modern nationalism and emphasizes its initial appearance as a result of a long-lasting dynamics of conflicts and reconciliations amongst social, political and economic groups in Europe. In many other parts of the world, modern nationalism appeared as part of Europeanization and modernization usually carried out by a certain west European educated elite. In most of those places, modern nationalism was quite alien to the social, political, and economic structures and practices. However, as the particular case under scrutiny here demonstrates, modern nationalism gained ground in non-western world by the widespread authoritarian and often-violent pressures applied upon the people by violent paramilitary and/or guerilla groups formed and led by the Western-oriented elite. This peculiar emergence of modern nationalism would certainly create problems in the long run in terms of constructing a well-structured nation-state and a widely shared national consensus. The paper's main focus is the insurgent nationalist movements in the Balkans and the Ottoman counter-insurgency, which developed a similar mindset in their struggle against each other, which would contribute to the problematic emergence of nation-states and the continuous unrest in the region.