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The issue of ethnification/nationalization of universal and/or individual religions is a very widespread and complex one. Ethnicity and nationalism are sometimes conceptualized as steps towards universality, or rather, helpful tools for understanding universal messages, while, in other cases, they represent the total opposite of universalism. Ethnicity and nationalism especially tend to occur as burdensome or restricting issues in cases when one religious movement utilizes symbols belonging to different cultures or traditions (syncretistic and/or eclectic movements), or when a religious movement conducts its activities in a number of different languages, when the membership is multicultural/multiethnic and when activities are conducted simultaneously in a number of different countries (international spiritual movements). Over the course of fifteen years I have studied the ways in which one such community (an international Gnostic spiritual movement), based in South-Eastern Europe (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia) copes with the challenges posed by ethnicity and nationalism. I was interested in the ways in which and the extent to which the members of this community are able to overcome ethnic/national divisions and barriers in a period characterized by processes of re-traditionalization and the sacralization and revitalization of nationalism.
|Keywords:||Ethnicity, Nationalism, South-eastern Europe, Religion, Gnosticism, Secret Societies|
Associate Professor, Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Beograd, Serbia and Montenegro