chapter  8
Intolerant sovereignties and ‘multi-multi’ protectorates
Competition over religious sites and (in)tolerance in the Balkans
ByRobert M. Hayden
Pages 21

One of the more prominent tropes invoked in regard to the Balkans has been (in)tolerance. The ‘cultural racism’ (Žižek 2000:4-5; cf. Stolcke 1995) of popular references to supposedly ‘age-old conflicts’ between ‘people who have been killing each other for centuries’ has been countered by accounts that show that the recent violence has been created to serve political purposes (see Sells 1996; Donia and Fine 1994; Denitch 1994). According to these latter accounts, far from having traditions of killing each other, peoples such as Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks were living in harmony until their local communities were disrupted by conflicts created by political elites in order to facilitate their accession to or maintenance of power. In this reading, the culture of these peoples has been one of peaceful coexistence, not violent conflict, which is why the destruction of their local communities has been seen as a betrayal of their tradition of tolerance (see e.g. Mahmutæehajiæ 2000).