Catalina Hunt, “Speaking National” in Dobruca. Muslim Adaptation to Romanian Policies between 1878 and 1914

Catalina Hunt - The Ohio State University
p. 145-169
Online publication date: 
Dobrucan Muslims; “speaking national”; loyalty; mosque; school; Ottoman Empire; Romania

This article focuses on the adaptation of the Muslim population of Dobruca to Romanian policies instituted between 1878, when Dobruca was annexed to Romania by the Treaty of Berlin, and 1914, the advent of World War I. The Muslim population that remained in Dobruca, rather than emigrating to the Ottoman Empire after 1878, transitioned from being subjects of the Ottoman sultan to citizens of the nation-state of Romania. Instead of opposing state policies that at times were disadvantageous, these Muslims invoked loyalty for the state and the monarchy in order to integrate but still improve their situation within Romania. Muslim elites, who led the community, successfully navigated Romanian society by using claims of commonality or difference to define themselves in a manner that best suited both personal and community interests. In this context, invoking the nation (or “speaking national”) constituted a salient tool of social integration for Muslim elites seeking state benefits in order to secure a better standard living for themselves and their coreligionists. The use of national rhetoric helped them to obtain financial and moral support in two of the main areas of Muslim life, the mosque and the school. National appeals allowed both Muslim elites and commoners to adapt more smoothly to the policies that Romanian officials had implemented in Dobruca since 1878. The manner in which Muslims adapted to Romanian policies was indicative of the difficult path of nation-building, citizenship formation, and nationality formation in the aftermath of the military conflicts, border shifting, and population movement that occurred after 1878. This article includes Dobrucan Muslims in the broader process of world reconstruction and emerging identities during and in the aftermath of imperial collapse.

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