Muslim minorities of Bulgaria and Georgia: A comparative study of Pomaks and Ajarians

Kahraman, Alter
This thesis analyses the transformation of identities of two religious minorities, Pomaks and Ajarians, located on the opposite sides of the Black Sea region, in Bulgaria and Georgia respectively. Both minorities embraced Islam under the Ottoman rule and encountered difficulties with the growth of ethno-religious nationalism in their respective countries’ national ideologies in the post-Ottoman era. The thesis reviews the literature on ethnic and religious nationalism, for the relation between religion and nationalism was intimate in both Bulgaria and Georgia, and religion has been an integral part of national identity as well as the national discourse of these countries, and it collects data through semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted in Bulgaria and Georgia with elites and experts as well as the ordinary members of both Ajarian and Pomak communities. It underscores the intolerance Bulgarians and Georgians, whose faith is not Orthodox Christianity, are subjected to in Orthodox countries like Bulgaria and Georgia, where religion and ethnic and national identity is superposed. That is, it draws attention to the ethno-religious nationalism causing intolerance especially towards minorities who were formerly considered as Orthodox Christians. The findings of the study demonstrate that minorities having more commonalities with the majority yet differences in terms of religious affiliation suffer more.
Citation Formats
A. Kahraman, “Muslim minorities of Bulgaria and Georgia: A comparative study of Pomaks and Ajarians,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2020.