Nationalism as a Process for Making the Desired Identity Salient: Bosnian Muslims Become Bosniaks

Mirsad Kriještorac, Florida International University


This study is concerned with the particular relationship between the process of nationalism and a group's salient identity. It proposes that nationalism as the independent variable serves as a principal factor and facilitator for a change of identity, which is seen as the dependent variable. The Bosnian Muslim emergence as an independent nation with the new salient Bosniak identity was used as a case study to test the main proposition. The inquiry was completed through a mixed research method, using grounded theory and the historic process tracing technique, a large survey analysis collected specifically for this study, and a logistic regression as a concluding test. The historic process tracing method describes the Bosnian Muslim group's development from a distinct Balkan Ottoman religious millet group, through a stage of its own ethno-religious cultural crystallization, another stage of nationality during the Communist era, to an independent nation that now shares the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina with two other nations. Through their struggle to survive and re-assert themselves as an important local political entity, Bosniaks built their nationalism upon three important themes: B-H integrity, Bosnian Islam, and the Bosnian language. A 68-question survey regarding these three themes designed specifically for this study was conducted, and 670 survey responses were collected from the Bosnian Muslim diaspora population living throughout the Midwestern and Eastern U.S. in their Appadurai-type neighborhoods. The data collected from those surveys were manipulated in preparation for a final analysis. The two nationalism indexes measuring intensity and type, and six categories of Bosniak identity, were constructed to observe interactions between nationalism and identity. As the final step, a statistical analysis with multinomial logistic regression confirmed the proposition and showed that the factor which stimulates selection of a new desired salient identity is intensity of nationalism, not type of nationalism. This work contributes to the ongoing discussion on the true role of nationalism as a collective action. At the same time, it provides the field of comparative politics with a comprehensive description of the emergence of Bosnian Muslims as a nation, and with details of their nationalism project and their now salient Bosniak identity.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Political science

Recommended Citation

Kriještorac, Mirsad, "Nationalism as a Process for Making the Desired Identity Salient: Bosnian Muslims Become Bosniaks" (2016). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10743665.