Nationalization and migration processes: a shrinking world for the Muslim population of Novi Pazar

With the preceding historical sketch in mind, the Tanzimat period not only brought about the socioeconomic emancipation of the Serbian nation and/or those individuals who identified as Orthodox but also heralded the expulsion and/or forced emigration of the Muslim and/or Turkish population from the Balkans, specifically from present-day Serbia. It is instructive, however, to point toward the initially fledgling and/or potentially absent sense of national identification among the Orthodox population here. Ciric-Bogetic and Djordjevic cite Jevrem Gruic, who described the Serbian population of the 19th century as

a bare agent who can belong to one entity, and to yet another at any given time. . . . Our nation has no will of its own, but not because he is unable. . . . For internal liberation to take place, our people must understand who they are as a nation, the kind of rights this nation should have, why, and given by whom, [our people] must know their borders; It means telling people what it means for a nation to live in a state, and to invite people to live as such.39

Gruic describes an essentially inexistent Serbian national consciousness that yet had to be instilled from above - from the top down. As such, economic disputes might have contributed to the social unrest in the region as opposed to sheer ‘ethnic hatred’. In this context, retaliations against Muslims in the wake of the First and Second Balkan Wars and thereafter may be interpreted as a rivalry among classes. Though the ensuing violence accompanying the two Balkan and two World Wars is too extensive to cover in this book,40 it is imperative to understand that the Muslim population was driven to leave Southeastern Europe for Turkey by violence and fear - fear that was compounded by their loss of land.

Following the first Serbian uprising, according to Ciric-Bogetic and Djordjevic, Turkish and Muslim-Slavic families were stipulated to leave Serbia within five years following the ratification of the Hatiserifs in 1830 and 1833, and made to yield their rights to property.41 Saban Hodzic states that Muslims moved and/or fled to those territories that were yet considered Ottoman protectorates, including the Sandzak of Novi Pazar.42 Homogenization processes were thus underway before the Austro-Hungarian occupation of BiH in 1878, though they sped up markedly after the Treaties of San Stefano and Berlin.

Safet Bandzovic provides his readers with vivid picture of the nationalization processes during the late 19th century. Reflecting on Slobodan Jovanovic,43 Bandzovic relates a discussion about the strategic location of the Novopazar- ski Sandzak that separated Serbia from Montenegro prior to the signing of the San Stefano treaty: “the Russians initially pressured Serbia to grant Nis to Bulgaria; the Serbs, in turn, would get Novi Pazar from where they would expel the Turks, if they refused to leave on their own.”44 The Sandzak was not only strategically important as regarded the unification of Montenegro and Serbia as well as Serbian access to warm-water ports, but it also served as a migratory corridor to and through which Muslim Slavs and/or Turks traveled during the protracted collapse of the Ottoman Empire. According to Vladan Jovanovic, following the Austro-Hungarian occupation in 1878 and subsequent annexation of BiH in 1909, the number of Muslim inhabitants in the Novo Pazarian Sandzak rose from 45 to 60 percent.45 Bandzovic illustrates this inherent fluidity of borders and population movement between 1876 and 1919, all the way up to WWI and beyond.44

The Sandzak region became a center for immigration as well as a place of transit from which Muslims immigrated to Turkey. Migrants - or muhadziri, as they are called locally - migrated through Novi Pazar and on to present-day Macedonia, Albania, and Turkey. Novi Pazar thus developed into an ephemeral space for the out-migrating group yet localized the membership for those who stayed behind. These families became the 'vehicle by which locals remember'47 and/or engage with the past.

Diaspora as a “category of practice”: a precondition for the creation of transnational trade practices

Though in-depth research about migration and diaspora mechanisms far exceeds the limit of the present book, the very concept of transnational diaspora practices necessitates a clarification in terms. Building on Rogers Brubaker’s three categories of dispersion, homeland orientation, and boundary maintenance, I conceptualize diaspora and migrant experiences as a category of practice.

Brubaker's first criterion regards dispersion. Bosniaks who relocated to Turkey were not strictly forced, though they were dispersed traumatically across space and time. The first migratory wave of Bosniaks leaving Southeastern Europe for Turkey followed Austro-Hungarian occupation and the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire after 1876/78. A combination of factors drove the first wave of outmigration, including the introduction of compulsory military duty on the side of the Habsburgs. Austria-Hungary subordinated formerly autonomous properties, including vakifs (religious endowments), to the imperial bureaucracy and abolished the timariot (‘feudal’ Ottoman land laws). Austria-Hungary finally transmogrified the Bosnian system from a subsistence into a monetary economy, which impoverished previously landowning beys.

Based on the preceding first criterion, the Bosniak community of Novi Pazar, too, falls within the category of diaspora since this community was severed from Bosnia proper by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and subsequently KSHS/SFRY. As such, Novi Pazar indeed consists of a “settled population . . . that lives as a minority outside its ethnonational homeland,”49 which is Bosnia and Herzegovina. This situation became tangible again during the Yugoslav Succession Wars.

The largest wave of Muslims left Southeastern Europe following WWII.50 Though Turkey and Yugoslavia had by now signed the Turkish-Yugoslav convention in 1938 and arranged further population exchanges in the form of the so-called Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1953, Edvin Pezo states that it was Turkey's open-door policy that facilitated emigration from Yugoslavia and iimnigration to Turkey, respectively. Turkey's Settlement Law 2510, according to Pezo, was especially instrumental regarding this open-door policy, seeing that this law facilitated the emigration of Muslim Slavs to Turkey, provided they spoke the Turkish language or else ascribed to republican values. Bosniaks, Torbesi, and Pomaks were particularly welcome in Turkey as these groups were thought to assimilate to Turkish values and norms with ease.51 Jovanovic adds another reason for the large-scale emigration to Turkey, namely that of an information campaign by which authorities promised ‘rich prospects' upon moving to Turkey.52 Though documentary proof of the Gentleman's Agreement is missing,53 academics generally agree that Muslim Slavs were 'free' to leave Yugoslavia upon giving up then- citizenship.54 The agreement further allowed for, or rather stipulated, that Muslim Slavs could leave for reasons of family reunification in the Turkish republic.

Brubaker reflects on William Safran in considering his second point on ‘homeland orientation’.55 According to Safran, diasporas ought to (1) “maintain!ing) a collective memory or myth about the homeland”; (2) “regard(ing) the ancestral homeland as the true, ideal home, and as the place to which one ... will eventually return home to”; (3) be “collectively ‘committed to the maintenance or restoration of the homeland and to its safety and prosperity’”; and (4) “ ‘continuing] to relate, personally or vicariously’, to the homeland, in a way that significantly shapes one’s identity and solidarity.”56 Brubaker and Safran's insightful analyses force us to differentiate between successive migratory waves and one's resulting identification with the new and/or old homeland, respectively.

The first and second migratory waves differ from the third in that emigrants of the former migrated to a state in the making. One might argue they became citizens of Turkey in the process because they helped to build the Turkish Republic. Though individuals were surely aware of their confessional, gender, and class belonging and so forth, the national experience was not as mature compared to the national label attached to emigrants of the third wave. Emigres, to be sure, presumably harbored sentimental attachments to their ancestral homeland. And yet, these people generally relocated to Turkey for good. Reasons for the finality of this move were of a structural and personal nature, as interviewees in Novi Pazar and Sarajevo explained. Structural conditions included a non-return stipulation on the part of Turkey that left people stranded on both sides of the border from where they decided to leave, for instance.57 Individuals were also left without property rights upon leaving their place of origin. Both interlocutors as well as archival research at the Arhiv Jugoslavije in Belgrade confirmed this information. One interviewee, for instance, explained she had not seen or spoken to her sister in 30 years after she left Novi Pazar for Turkey in the late 1930s. “She was unable to return,” the elderly lady explained, "because they constantly closed the borders. She did not want to be stuck somewhere in between.”5S

Structural conditions hampered family reunification efforts following the 1934 Taw of last names’. Reflecting on a paper written by Meltem Tiirkoz,59 Esra Ozyiirek stated, “Republican officials were actively involved in the naming process when emigrants arrived in Turkey. They vetoed many names on the basis that they were not Turkish or appropriate last names, and they simply recorded other names in their books.”60 As a result. Bosniaks of Southeastern Europe might have been unable to locate family members who emigrated from the constituting monarchy to Turkey during the first and second waves and vice versa.

Maintaining personal relations with family members who left for Turkey was thus complicated, and this continues to shape transnational relations into the present. Amer, a young interlocutor from Turkey, investigated the origins of his family in Novi Pazar and Macedonia, for instance, without knowing their last names or exact location of their erstwhile residence. He nevertheless kept up the search, hoping to reunite with his lost family in Southeastern Europe. He explained:

My grandparents' names were changed when they migrated to Turkey in the

1930. When I came here the first time, I could not reconnect, but I brought

home some soil because my mother wanted to put it on her mom’s grave.61

Significant is, however, that Amer does not speak Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Mon- tenegrin. The same is true for Leijla’s descendants who visited her in Novi Pazar after the Yugoslav Succession Wars had ended. Leijla and her nuclear family members, meanwhile, do not speak Turkish even though her son-in-law smuggled goods from Turkey to Southeastern Europe during the Yugoslav Succession Wars.

Though the Turkish nation-building process lasted well into the 1960s, individuals who joined the third wave may not have perceived themselves as immigrants. And yet, the third migratory wave might come closest to our current understanding of the term ‘immigrant’, as these people moved to a foreign, established state. This group, perhaps consequently, maintained a stronger link to those Bosniaks of the ‘homeland’. Lejla Voloder, for instance, explains the Turkish population perceived Muslim Slavs as Bosniaks, not as co-Turks when they arrived in the Republic.62 Muslims who left Yugoslavia behind as Turks in the third and last wave thus arrived in Turkey as Bosniaks.

Thomas Schad offers valuable insight on this point. He cites the Bayrampasa governors’ website to illustrate the integral character of the Bosniak-Turkish community in this district63 that houses "immigrants from the Balkans, and their valued(ing) (of) family networks, (have) that contributed to the development of Bayrampasa as one of Istanbul's most beautiful cities.”64 Significantly, the Bayrampasa district is home to the Bosna Sancak Kiiltiir ve Yardimlapna Dernegi (Bosnia Sandzak Culture and Solidarity Association) that opened in 1989. Further down, Schad analyzes an autobiographical novel written by Bekir Bayraktar.65 The author grew up in Rozaje on the Montenegrin side of the Sandzak territory and migrated to Turkey in 1968. Bayraktar may thus be considered an ideal type that characterizes the third migratory wave, a notion that is compounded by the fact that he wrote his text in Bosnian. His audience was in Southeastern Europe, and perhaps also Bosniaks in Turkey who share Bayraktar’s experience. In other words, he retained an emotive connection to the territory of Sandzak and his language, unlike those migrants who had come to Turkey with the first and second migratory waves. Bayraktar had not emigrated to a state in the making but had arrived in Turkey as a Bosniak.

Hometown associations in Turkey add further critical insight on the question of diaspora groups and migrants that act as agents of transnational practices. It is interesting to note that the Bosna Sancak Kiiltiir ve Yardimlapna Dernegi opened as late as 1989 because it coincides directly with the initial collapse of SFRY. The Yugoslav Succession Wars were indeed a catalyst by which emigres related personally with the homeland to the extent that this identification shaped their solidarity with Muslims of Southeastern Europe - a place their ancestors had migrated from. Reflecting on Jeanne Hersant and Alexandre Toumarkine, Bulut also identifies the conflicts as “a factor of communal mobilization . . . with long established migrants at the forefront of the mobilization.”66 Yet, early emigres identify decidedly as citizens of Turkey and not as Bosniaks, as illustrated by the following announcement of the Bosnia-Sandzak Foundations and Associations:

FROM THE BOSNIA-SANDZAK FOUNDATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS TO THE GREAT TURKISH NATION. We see that when TRT was making a decision to broadcast in different languages, Bosnian was included among these languages. This decision and practice was a surprise for us. We are a community that have mixed like 'SKIN AND NAIL' for centuries with all the people of the Turkish Republic, the greatest legacy left to us by the Great Leader ATATURK. We support with all our heart the spirit and understanding of ATATURK'S expression "HOW HAPPY IS HE WHO CALLS HIMSELF A TURK" and carry our TURKISH identity with pride [original emphasis].67

Safran's fourth point seems thus confirmed, though only partially. The local diaspora community evidently relates personally with the homeland to the extent that the Yugoslav Succession Wars shaped their solidarity significantly. Emigres, however, no longer identify as Bosniaks, as illustrated earlier, but as integral citizens of the Turkish Republic.

With the preceding examples in mind, one may confirm the existence of a collective memory maintenance, as suggested by Safran. The Yugoslav Succession Wars clearly serve as a crucial point of rupture here, because the family unit served as the primary vehicle that harbored these memories in this initial phase. With the outbreak of the war, the practice of collective memory maintenance moved into the public sphere of Bosnia-Sandzak hometown associations. Safran's second point is more difficult to confirm, though one might point to the structural difficulties that prevented people from returning to Southeastern Europe even if they wanted to. Time is a crucial factor here, as individuals, including Arner’s family and Leijla's relatives, became settled in their new 'homeland'. The desire to return may have shifted further into the distance and made way for Safran’s third and fourth point, namely, a collective commitment for the maintenance and restoration of a distant homeland.

Brubaker's third and final criterion involves the question of boundary maintenance that involves “the preservation of a distinctive identity vis-a-vis a host society.”6S To be sure, Bosniak emigres often settled in the Istanbulite mahalles (city districts) of Pendik and Bayrampasa. Bosniaks also initiated the construction of hometown associations and collected aid for Bosnia. Yet, these people did not wish to be instmmentalized, as illustrated in the preceding quote. Instead, they demonstrated their identification with the Turkish state. And yet, Bosniak emigres are dispersed across time and space since the border of the Ottoman Empire moved beyond the territories they currently inhabit.

Locals in Novi Pazar are twice removed: once from BiH and once from the former Ottoman Empire and present-day Turkey. There was, however, no collective desire to return to the homeland or any vigorous homeland orientation that altered and/or influenced the collective identification mechanisms of this emigre group. While attitudes shifted to active commemoration of the 'homeland' since the 1990s, this group does not collectively aspire repatriation to one of the former Yugoslav republics or to Bosnia specifically. I thus agree with and build on Brubaker, who argues for a "category of practice” instead of defining emigre groups as bounded entities.69

Categories of practice allow for a diachronic analysis of transnationalism without assuming that post-Ottoman communities share one unified culture. Joseph Rouse states:

Instead of positing such a unified conception of culture, practice theories recognize the co-existence of alternative practices within the same cultural milieu, differing conceptions of or perspectives on the same practices, and ongoing contestation and struggle over the maintenance and reproduction of cultural norms.... Instead of treating cultural interaction as a matter of translation between whole cultural systems, practice theorists can recognize more localized practices and meanings that function within each of the interacting fields of cultural practice.70

Rouse's argument about disparate cultural milieus is imperative here for the very understanding of the diachronic narrative structure presented in this book. The practice of sverc reveals ongoing contestations over the maintenance of cultural values among Bosniak citizens. It is thus commonplace to learn about sverc as a pragmatic practice that subsided with the end of the sanctions. Sanja Kljajic, for instance, declared the "talk of brotherly relations” between the Turkish emigre population and local Bosniaks a myth.71 Others argue that svercerci of all backgrounds embraced Milosevic because traders got rich in the process. Again, others emphasize the personal links that connect Bosniaks of Novi Pazar with the diaspora community in Turkey. It is this very emphasis on the "dynamics of social structures and their governance or constraint of individual actions [that] gives a strongly historical dimension to” the present examination of sverc in Novi Pazar.72

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >