Expression of National Affiliation in Population Censuses (1948–2011) among Sandžak Bosniaks Cover Image

Izjašnjavanje sandžačkih Bošnjaka o nacionalnoj pripadnosti u popisima stanovništva (1948. – 2011.)
Expression of National Affiliation in Population Censuses (1948–2011) among Sandžak Bosniaks

Author(s): Saša Mrduljaš
Subject(s): Sociology
Published by: Institut za migracije i narodnosti
Keywords: Sandžak; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bosniaks; Serbs; Montenegrins; population censuses

Summary/Abstract: Since the scope of the territory which can be brought into relation with the term Sandžak has varied during history, and considering that it does not form an administrative unit with the defined spatial frame, it is essential to define the areas belonging to Sandžak. For the duration of the Ottoman rule it was the easternmost part of the Eyalet of Bosnia. After the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: B&H) by Austria-Hungary, that part remained under Ottoman rule within the territory of Kosovo Vilayet. In terms of territory, it functioned as a kind of geopolitical wedge between Serbia and Montenegro. Considering that it occasionally represented a unique administrative unit, that part of the former Ottoman Bosnia was commonly referred to as the Sandžak of Novi Pazar. Nonetheless, during the final stage of Ottoman rule, it was divided into the Sandžaks of Pljevlja, Sjenica, Peć and Priština. The whole area was divided in 1912, during the First Balkan War between Serbia and Montenegro. The division had been short-lived as it was followed by World War I (1914–1918) and by the occupation of the two countries. After the war, Montenegro was incorporated into the territory of Serbia, which later became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes / Yugoslavia (1918–1941). Sandžak was again divided after World War II (1939–1945) due to federalization of socialist Yugoslavia. Approximately following the line of 1912, its northern part was annexed to Serbia, and southern to Montenegro. The territory of Sandžak was finally defined upon administrative division of the Yugoslav republics into municipalities, carried out at the end of the 1950s. Its Serbian region became part of the municipalities of Priboj, Nova Varoš, Prijepolje, Sjenica, Novi Pazar and Tutin, and the Montenegrin one was incorporated into Pljevlja, Bijelo Polje, Ivangrad (which was its name until 1949, since 1992 it has been “Berane”), Rožaj (since the 2003 list; “Rožaje '') and Plav. Sandžak occupies 8.687 km², with its Serb part amounting to an area of 4.499 km² (51.8%) and the Montenegrin to 4.188 km² (48.2%). The number of municipalities we can consider as part of Sandžak has increased. While the municipality of Andrijevica was formed from the southern part of Berane municipality in 1990, Petnjica municipality was established from the northern part in 2012.Mitrovica (Kosovo, Tito’s) and its surroundings were also part of the Sandžak of Novi Pazar. After World War II it was integrated into Kosovo and has been perceived as its part. On the other hand, the modern notion of Sandžak includes the town of Plav in Montenegro, which did not use to be perceived as its part. Although Sandžak remains recognisable as a separate formation, it is essentially a historical perception maintained by the distinctiveness of its ethnic features. It is seen as a region inhabited by Bosniaks (predominantly in the east, towards Kosovo) as well as Serbs and Montenegrins (mostly in the west, towards B&H). This paper presents the data of all modern population censuses providing a more or less clear image of the ethnic features of Sandžak. The censuses included are those carried out between 1921 and 2011 within several countries, namely in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS) (as of 1929; the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), socialist Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia / the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (1992–2003 / 2003–2006) and in independent Serbia and Montenegro (since 2006). The indicators presented refer to the total population of Sandžak, providing basis for various analyses, comparisons and conclusions. The attached paper was focused on the Bosniak community. We have attempted to determine the extent to which the Sandžak Bosniaks have expressed their ethnicity or national affiliation in accordance with the Bosniaks in B&H. The attempt was made both at the level of the entire Sandžak and of its Serbian and Montenegrin part. At the same time, the analysis conducted enabled the comparison of Bosniaks’ census declaration in those two parts of Sandžak. With regard to the objectives stated, the first two censuses, the ones from 1921 and 1931, are virtually unusable considering that they did not register ethnicity. As they contain data on religious affiliation and mother tongue, data on ethnicity may only be obtained indirectly, i.e. by combining the former two indicators. However, one should bear in mind that the data thus obtained only have approximate value, considering that the population might not have declared their ethnicity as such, had they had the opportunity in those years. Nevertheless, those censuses have a reference significance for the subsequent periods, so their indicators are also included in the paper.The subjects of the analysis were primarily the results of the censuses conducted from 1948 until 2011, that is, the censuses allowing for an insight into the ethnic or national positioning of all the groups, including the Bosniaks. In the case of Bosniaks; in accordance with the political circumstances, the first three censuses conducted in socialist Yugoslavia were not aligned with the reality of their autonomy. However, they nevertheless offered opportunities to express their own identity, albeit indirectly. In 1971, in the context of political recognition of the national distinctiveness of Bosniaks, then known as “Muslims”, new circumstances emerged in terms of quality, to be reflected in the subsequent two censuses. They have changed somewhat due to the replacement of the Muslim national name with the name “Bosniaks” in the early 1990s. This is also evidenced by the results of the censuses covering Sandžak after the disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia. The following conclusions may be drawn from the insights into census results as well as from their analysis and comparison.Although the Communist government generally approached the Bosniaks as a separate ethnic entity, it took a long time to issue a political acknowledgement of the Bosniak national distinctiveness. This reality was already reflected in the first census carried out in 1948, in which the Bosniaks were given the opportunity to declare themselves as “undeclared Muslims” in order to demonstrate their own autonomy. In B&H, almost 90% of Bosniaks identified themselves as such. In Sandžak, such declarations were rare and only occurred in its Serbian part, where Bosniaks mostly declared themselves as Serbs. In the Montenegrin part, they almost completely identified themselves as Montenegrins. Within the 1953 census, Bosniaks were provided an opportunity to declare themselves as “undeclared Yugoslavs”, which was done by 95% of them in B&H. In the Serbian part of Sandžak, the majority of Bosniaks also identified themselves as such, but a significant part of them declared themselves as Turks. Unlike the Serbian part of Sandžak, where Bosniaks decreasingly identified themselves as Serbs, in the Montenegrin part, they continued to refer to themselves as Montenegrins. In that census, as well as in the subsequent ones, a smaller number of the Montenegrin Bosniaks identified themselves as Turks. In that and in the subsequent two censuses, expression of Turkish nationality was closely related to the then mass emigration of Sandžak Bosniaks to Turkey. Acceptance of Turkish national identity was supposed to facilitate the process of overcoming the constraints that have stood in the way of emigration from the homeland and immigration in the country specified.In the 1961 census, Bosniaks were able to declare themselves as “Muslims in terms of ethnicity”. In B&H, almost the entire population of Bosniaks opted for that possibility, as well as the one that had been offered as the alternative possibility in the previous census (“undeclared Yugoslavs”) In the Serbian part of Sandžak, the vast majority of Bosniaks declared themselves as “Muslims in terms of ethnicity”, but again, a substantial number identified themselves as Turks. In the Montenegrin part; in 1961 the Bosniak population declared themselves as “Muslims in terms of ethnicity” and as Montenegrins in equal measure.After the constitution of the nation of “Muslims” was politically accepted in the late 1960s, almost all Bosniaks from B&H and Sandžak opted for that entry in the 1971 census. In the Serbian part, only a small number identified themselves as Turks. The 1981 and 1991 censuses are significant as they confirmed the 1971 rule, with a significant part of B&H Bosniaks, together with Croats and Serbs, declaring themselves as “Yugoslavs”. Such declaration was scarce in Sandžak. As the Bosniaks accepted the replacement of their former national name in 1993, a new situation emerged, which was registered in the subsequent censuses. Within them, the reality of Bosniak nationality was accepted, but a possibility was left for declaring oneself as “Muslim” both in the territory of Serbia and Montenegro and of B&H. Of the total number of declared Bosniaks and Muslims, the 2002 census counted close to 6% of Muslims in the Serbian part of Sandžak, while the 2003 census counted as much as 26% of them in Montenegro. It could be said that a part of the population declared in those censuses had not yet adequately perceived the significance of the changes relating to national affiliation, but would do so eventually. That situation was similar to the 1961 census, when a significant part of Bosniaks in B&H did not declare themselves as “Muslims in terms of ethnicity” but as “undeclared Yugoslavs” in accordance with the previous census. In B&H, that “anomaly” was bypassed already in the subsequent census. However, not in the case of Sandžak. In the 2011 census, Muslims comprised 8% of the total number of declared Bosniaks and Muslims in the Serbian part of Sandžak, while there were almost 20% of them in the Montenegrin part. As opposed to that, in the first census that was held in B&H after 1991, i.e. the 2013 census, Muslims comprised only 0.7% of the total number of declared Bosniaks and Muslims in that country. Additionally, it is indicative that in Montenegro and in the Montenegrin part of Sandžak, a significant part of Muslims identified themselves as Montenegrins both in 2003 and in 2011. In any case, the particular circumstances of Sandžak Bosniaks again had an impact on census expression of national affiliation. The differences between the Bosniaks / Muslims from its Serbian and Montenegrin parts are also noticed. The reason for this occurrence should be the subject of a special analysis.

  • Issue Year: 2018
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 7-43
  • Page Count: 37
  • Language: Croatian