The Sandzak: A History

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One of the few unexamined pieces of the Balkan jigsaw, the Sandzak region, straddling the border area between the now independent states of Serbia and Montenegro, is heir to a complex and contested history, characterised by foreign occupation and domestic conflict. The heartland of the first Serbian medieval kingdom, the area fell under the control of the Ottoman Turks in the late fourteenth century. But as the Ottoman Empire was rolled back during the tumultuous nineteenth century, the Sandzak, positioned at the interface between the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires, became the focus of Great Power politics.

Divided by Serbia and Montenegro during the Balkan Wars, occupied by the Austrians during the First World War, the Sandzak was then incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918. The area was again occupied by Italian and German forces during the Second World War, during which internecine conflicts between competing domestic political forces intensified. Granted autonomous status by the communist-led Partisans in 1943, the Sandzak was again divided between Serbia and Montenegro in 1945. Yet this short period of autonomy remained a powerful symbol, and as Yugoslavia began to unravel in the 1990s, the 'Sandzak Question' re-emerged.
The Sandzak: A History attempts to demystify the enigma of this little-know part of the Balkans. Offering a detailed yet succinct analysis of its religious and ethnic dynamics, the authors chart a course through conflicting historical narratives to provide a comprehensive overview of the complex history of this contested land.

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About the Author:


Kenneth Morrison is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at De Montfort University, Leicester, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics (Research on Southeast Europe--LSEE) in 2011-12. He has written extensively on the history and politics of the Balkans and is the author of Montenegro: A Modern History (IB Tauris, 2009).

Elizabeth Roberts is a former diplomat and Balkan scholar who taught Southeast European history at universities in the Republic of Ireland and the United States. She is a recognised authority on Balkan history and is the author of The Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro (Hurst & Co., 2007).

Review:


"Morrison & Roberts have written the first detailed scholarly analysis of an important but neglected part of what was once Yugoslavia. The book deals convincingly with the historical evolution of the Sandzak, its position during the Yugoslav crisis of the 1990s, the realignment of Yugoslavia s Muslims along national lines, the important role played by Muslim minorities in internal Montenegrin developments, and the conflicts between Serbs and Muslims (Bosniaks) and among the Slavic-speaking Muslims of Serbia. Well written, well-researched and fascinating to read, this book goes far beyond merely a study of the local politics of a small territory." --Ambassador Geert Ahrens (ret.); author of Diplomacy on the Edge: Conflict and the Minorities Working Group of the Conference on Yugoslavia


"A rigorous and extremely interesting volume regarding the intricacies of a critical region that straddles the border between Serbia and Montenegro. Exploring the tangled history and turbulent recent politics of the Sandzak region, a pivotal crossroads of different ethnic and religious groups in Southeastern Europe, the study provides an excellent and timely analysis of the challenges facing multinational states and regions, and also offers important insights into the dimensions which affect the management and stability of potential zones of conflict. Scholars, students and policy-makers will all find the book a definitive work for understanding the region s future development." --Leonard J. Cohen, Emeritus Professor, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada; author of Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic


"The Sandzak occupies a crucial position in the Western Balkans. At times in its varied history it has been the focal point of European, and even world attention. If the Western Balkans erupts again the Sandzak could become a region of critical importance. Its varied history therefore needs to be known, and Morrison and Roberts have provided an excellent introduction to that history. This is the first English-language history of the area and it will be essential reading for all those concerned with the Balkans." --Richard Crampton, Professor of East European History, University of Oxford 1996-2006; author of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and Beyond


"This impressive volume is the first book in English or any other Western language to provide a comprehensive historical overview of the Sandzak ... essentially terra incognita, not only for well-rounded generalists but, curiously, also for most specialists in Yugoslav/Balkan affairs. [This is] a quality history text that will be especially appreciated by readers already familiar with the general contours (not to mention the numerous zigs and zags) of ancient, medieval, and modern Balkan/Yugoslav history."--John Treadway, Professor of History and International Studies, University of Richmond


"Morrison and Roberts have made a very valuable contribution to the literature in the field of Balkan history and politics by producing a long overdue historical overview of Sandzak. This engaging and thoroughly researched work treats the border region from the Palaeolithic era until the present day."--Rory Archer, Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz


"The Sandzak offers a good overview of the history of a region that is all too often omitted from European consciousness. Morrison and Roberts have achieved their goal of producing an unbiased monograph on the area. [...] The book offers illuminating insights to historians of Southeast Europe in particular, since the detailed information is skilfully embedded in the context of the longue durée, but also as a guide for anyone interested in the region and its development." -- Franziska Zaugg, Historisches Institut, Universität Bern, H-Soz-U-Kult


"...a broad overview of Balkan history and the place of the Sandzak within it, with some valuable insights into particular episodes and an introduction to the previously opaque role of the territory in the history of the former Yugoslavia during and after the break-up." -- Slavic Review


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