Journal Article

Crosses of Blood: Sacred Space, Religion, and Violence in Bosnia-Hercegovina

Michael Sells

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 64, issue 3, pages 309-331
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Crosses of Blood: Sacred Space, Religion, and Violence in Bosnia-Hercegovina

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The role of religion in the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina has been both obvious and invisible. It was obvious in that both perpetrators and victims of organized atrocities were identified by their religious tradition. It was invisible in that the religious manifestations were viewed either as incidental or as masks for deeper social, political, and economic issues; or else categorized exclusively as aspects of ethnicity.

This essay examines the role of religion in the ideology of those carrying out ”ethnic cleansing,“ as manifested in the literature of the religious nationalists and, particularly in the case of Catholic religious nationalism, in the language of destruction and construction of shrines. Juxtaposed to the shrine texts of religious nationalism is a vision of shrine preservation and reconstruction. The reconstruction efforts are viewed by their advocates as central to the construction of a pluriform Bosnia-Hercegovina in which all religions historically integral to Bosnian civilization will be viewed as equal and equally important elements of the national identity. By examining the struggle between these two visions of sacral monuments, we can better understand and evaluate the agency of religious institutions, leaders, and symbols in the Bosnian drama.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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