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Borders and bonds: Mali Zvornik and Sakar during the deosmanization of the Balkans of the XIX and XX century

Journal: Historijski pogledi//Historical Views (Vol.IV, No. 5)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 7-50

Keywords : Balkans; de-Ottomanization; Bosnian vilayet; Principality of Serbia; Berlin Congress 1878; Mali Zvornik; Sakar; politics; Muslims; culture of memory;

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Knowledge of world / European history is important for a more complete understanding of complex processes, for comparisons and placing national and regional history in a broader context that provides more meaningful answers. What determines the course of history is sometimes “a series of smaller events in the midst of the context of big ideas”. The borders of the region are determined by geographical, cultural and geopolitical characteristics, as well as the political interests of those builders whose interpretation has dominance. In expanding or narrowing the territory of the Balkans, politics was usually more decisive than geography. Historical events in that area should be presented from the positions of all its peoples, including Muslim communities. The processes of de-Ottomanization and Balkanization also led to their particular consciousness within the newly formed, post-Ottoman states. Their historical experience is largely not “condensed, preserved, and generationally transmitted”. The attitude that Muslims are “foreigners” in Europe is part of the mentality and process known as the “Eastern Question”. Minds are not too prone to change. Calling all Muslims “Turks” is not the result of ignorance, but of a concrete attitude. It was not until the Berlin Congress of 1878 that the question of their protection became somewhat relevant. The system of such protection was inadequate, without supervisory mechanisms to control the implementation of commitments. Major political changes most often brought about religious and ethnic changes and displacements in the Balkans. In the study of the decades-long process of formation of the Serbian state in the 19th century in the area of the Smederevo Sandzak and the emigration of Muslims from it, special attention is paid to the fate of two small settlements (Mali Zvornik and Sakar) on the right bank of the Drina. After the surrender of the towns to the Serbs in 1862, only Mali Zvornik and Sakar remained in the hands of the Muslims. The origin of the settlement of Mali Zvornik is connected to the existence of the Zvornik fortress and the town of Zvornik on the left bank of the Drina, which was first mentioned in 1412. Mali Zvornik grew on the right bank of the Drina as part of the town of Zvornik. In the first half of the 18th century, travel writers mention that Mala or Mahala of the Bosnian town of Zvornik, whose inhabitants were called Maholjani, was located there. South of Mali Zvornik lies village of Sakar. In the 19th century, in Mali Zvornik and Sakar, on the border with the Smederevo Sandzak, Muslims made up the majority of the population. As only the Drina separated them from the settlements of Divič and Tabaci on its other side, the inhabitants of these settlements were firmly connected by kinship, friendship and marriage, and they were economically oriented towards each other. The Principality of Serbia was persistent in its demands to get Mali Zvornik and Sakar, having in mind their geostrategic position. By the decision of the Berlin Congress in 1878, they became part of Serbia. Until 1912, these were the only settlements in it with a majority Muslim population. They lost that majority over time. What is conditionally called “local” history, in addition to great narratives, indicates, confirmed by various experiences, the multidimensionality of the past, its features and specifics in a particular area.

Last modified: 2021-06-22 05:32:24