The invisible minorities of the Balkans: Challenges and prospects

Speaker(s): Evangelos Areteos (MOHA Research Center), ELIAMEP, University of Nicosia; Sara Kuehn (University of Vienna); Giorgos Mavrommatis (University of Thrace, Greece).

Chair: Ceren Lord (DPIR, Oxford) 

Convenor: Ceren Lord (DPIR, Oxford) 

Series: SEESOX

This panel explores the situation of minorities in the Balkans through the discussion of the Alevis and Bektashis. Comprising a ‘double minority,’ Alevis and Bektashis, are commonly mis-categorised or made invisible through their articulation as part of the Muslim minority communities. In recent years, partly in response to changing political circumstances, increasing conflict and sectarianism, Alevis and Bektashis have started to mobilise to break-out of their marginalised status, and are having to navigate their complex national contexts, transnational linkages, and geopolitical pressures. The panellists will discuss their current status and struggle for visibility and recognition, raising questions for the minority regimes across the Balkans.  

Εvangelos Areteos is a journalist and researcher specializing in Turkey and its region. He is a senior research fellow at the Motivation of Heritage Affinities (MOHA) Research Center, a research associate at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and a non-resident research fellow at the Diplomatic Academy of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

Sara Kuehn teaches Islamic mysticism and Islamic aesthetics, art and cultural history at the Department of Islamic Theological Studies, University of Vienna, and the Department of Islamic Theology and Religious Education, University of Innsbruck. She works at the interdisciplinary juncture of (art) history, anthropology, theology, and religious and cultural studies, and for the past 25 years has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on Sufi communities in Europe (and beyond), including the Bektashiyya, and on Sari Saltuk, one of the most important holy men in the Bektashi pantheon

Giorgos Mavrommatis is an associate professor in Intercultural and Minority Education at the School of Education Sciences, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece. His main research interests are in the field of the education of minority and migrant children, focusing on the issues of education policy, bilingualism, development of teaching material, school attendance, teacher’s training and human rights. His study extends also to the field of history and politics of religions, focusing on Islam, mainly in the Balkans and Anatolia and especially in the Islamic order (tariqa) of Bektashis/Alevis.