Racial Capitalism and Coloniality Along the Balkan Route
Author(s): Piro Rexhepi
Reviewed by: Linda Hyökki
Reviewed by: Linda Hyokki, Ibn Haldun University, Türkiye
Published by – Durham/London: Duke University Press Academic, 2023, 190 pp. ISBN: 978-1478019282.
A critical examination of race as a social construct and the process of racialization has to be a part of any temporary academic conversation on Islamophobia. When one does this within the framework of Europe, one generally focusses on the colonial legacies present in central, northern, and southern Europe. Seldom are East Europe and the Balkans discussed, neither as the subject of our research nor as a parallel point of reference for identifying patterns of creating Whiteness and othering Muslims. Unfairly, the lack of English literature on the subject has prevented even those accessible works of a small number of researchers from achieving considerable recognition. Even the most knowledgeable scholars of European race relations ignore the history and current events in the Balkans. Therefore, Piro Rexhepi’s book should be included in any advanced reading list on Muslims and Islam in Europe, as it fills this research gap. The book comprises five chapters that focus on various issues relating to the creation of race in the past and present, the boundaries of Whiteness, and how they connect to discourses that are well-known to be Islamophobic both locally and globally.
In the first chapter, Rexhepi introduces us to the critical voices of Yugoslav Muslim thinkers amidst the awakening Islamic movement of their time. Rexhepi explains how the emergence of Muslim intellectual thought, influenced mainly by the Iranian revolution, made the once unaligned Bosnian Muslims into a political security threat. He argues that in the former Yugoslavian popular discourses, especially in the Bosnian context, “Muslimness” had long been associated with backwardness and was characteristic of only villagers. However, the awakening of Muslim intellectual activism shattered these stereotypes.