Hadzibulic & Lagerspetz [Abstract]

The colonization of a celebration: The transformations of Krsna Slava
[Full text]

Sabina Hadžibulić [1]
Mikko Lagerspetz [2]

Abstract:  The article discusses the Slava, or Krsna Slava – traditionally, a Serbian Orthodox celebration of a family’s patron saint. During Real Socialism, the custom was disapproved by the régime because of its religious content. After the collapse of Real Socialism and the disintegration of the Yugoslav federal state, the scale, context and meaning of the Slava have all changed. At the same time as the private celebrations have become larger, less secluded, and a target for marketing, a new type of Slavas has emerged as well. They are not related to a family, but to an organization. Both private and public organizations, including public schools and government offices, stage Slavas as public celebrations. The festivities display a mix of religious and nationalist elements. From a neo-institutionalist perspective, we interpret the change as an example of changing relationships between the state and civil society institutions. The Republic of Serbia has taken the course of re-building its citizenry’s national identity on the basis of Serbian ethnicity instead of the former, supra-ethnic Yugoslav identity. In its search for legitimacy, the new state seeks support both from the Serbian Orthodox Church and from traditions that can be understood as distinctly Serbian. During Real Socialism, the Slava contributed to the reproduction of a traditionalist, religious and family-centered identity, which was a competitor to that of the citizen of a Socialist state. Now, the state is instead promoting the Slava, at the same time using it as a means of representing the state as an expression of exclusively Serbian ethnicity.

Keywords: Celebration, Slava, Serbian Orthodox Church, ethnicity, nationalism

[1] Åbo Akademi University, Finland, sabina.hadzibulic@abo.fi
[2] Åbo Akademi University, Finland, mikko.lagerspetz@abo.fi