Kiwi and the Dervish: A Short History of Bosnian Settlement in New Zealand
Emigration from Bosnia-Herzegovina to New Zealand invariably affects, and often undermines, the core religious practices and affiliations of Slavic Muslims. Research suggests that most of these immigrants and refugees have subsumed a key feature of their unique Balkan heritage in order to integrate into mainstream society, the Anglo-European population in this predominantly Protestant-Christian nation in the South Pacific. My study aims to elucidate this historic phenomenon through an exploration of multiple biographies of several working class persons, within the context of the wider picture of Bosnian settlement here. This essay asks: to what degree does personal motivation appear to influence participation in the wider, shared spiritual tradition of Islam in a minority societal context? Predicated on a review of the available literature, my research suggests a complex socio-economic bricolage. Through a case study design my analysis demonstrates that most Bosnian immigrants and refugees over the twentieth century were more concerned with tangible material objectives than theological principles or goals. These results indicate that, overall, religion played less of a role in their private and public lives historically compared to Asian and African immigrants and refugees. On this basis, it is suggested that in future Muslim social and religious organisations based in Bosnia make greater efforts to liaise with their diaspora populations even at these further-most edges of the earth and provide better spiritual leadership. Further research is necessary to identify other aspects that could strengthen Bosnian Muslim culture outside Europe.
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