Ethnographic research on religion in the Western Balkans

[Henning Schwanke]



The Western Balkans, with its borders and niches, is home to many gypsy-cultures, which are now linked-up worldwide and which partly create a very peculiar Islam. Those who approach this Gypsy-Islam do not encounter the exegesis of religious texts, but expose themselves to a very practical mysticism that technical modernity has outsourced into computer games, fairy tale collections and esoteric circles.

This gypsy-mysticism is part of the bouquet of “religious collectors”, who – without knowing about their own family, neighborhood or ethnicity – incorporate and merge elements of various orthodox religions, as well as heterodox teachings, traditional old and pagan beliefs, thus satisfying traditions, dissolving paradoxes, and closing gaps in their religious interpretation of the world. In lonely contemplation, ritual boundary experiences and vociferous debates, mystics – lay people and experts – try to harmonise different models of world explanation without questioning the existence of Allah and the Djinne. Only the mystic knows that dogmatic fundamentalists are wrong, if they publicly want to align people’s reality and experiences with religious scriptures. The mystical beliefs and practices of gypsy-groups in the Balkans are a response to a wide range of threats to which communities in general are now exposed, and thus also have an important integrative function.

2018, 336 pages, softcover, 17 x 24 cm;
ISBN: 978-3-938533-65-9


Additional information

Weight 0.75 kg


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Ethnographic research on religion in the Western Balkans

[Henning Schwanke]

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