The Genealogy of the Construction and Stigmatization of the Other: The Case of Orthodox Serbs and South Slavic Muslims

  • Abstract:

    The process of constructing an individual or a group as the Other, and their subsequent stigmatization, is simply not possible if there are no stigmatizers. During the entire history of humankind, the society played a decisive role in the construction of those “traits that are believed to be normal and natural”, that is socially acceptable, because “not all undesirable traits are questionable, but rather only those that are contrary to our stereotypes about what a certain type should be like”. With such an approach, the society creates not only socially acceptable patterns, but also those that are unacceptable. In other words, the society thus defines what are the traits that make a person “besmirched, ritually tarnished, that is, a person that should be avoided”. Concurrently with the stated process, the society develops an ideology, which serves to indicate to the rest of the population that undesirable traits of “besmirched” persons are inferior, and to point out that they are potentially dangerous. It is of crucial importance to successfully elaborate such an ideology because it serves to provide “rationalisation of its hostile attitude”, which is the final step in the process of stigmatization of the Other. It is precisely on this basis that, from the very beginning, Orthodox Christians have perceived South Slav Muslims in a very negative way, as “besmirched, ritually tarnished” people due to the fact that they decided to adopt Islam as their religion, whereby they committed a deadly sin by renouncing the faith of their forefathers and opted for the faith of the “invaders” from the Ottoman Empire. In this paper, we will try to identify the point in time when the South Slav Muslims were actually defined as the archetypical Other. After that, the aim of this paper will be to provide a detailed analysis of the genealogy of the development of an ideology which served to rationalise its hostile attitude, which eventually, on a number of occasions in recent history, resulted in genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the South Slav Muslims.