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Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Höpken

Permanent Senior Research Fellow

Areas of interest

  • history of South-Eastern Europe
  • cultures of remembering in South-Eastern Europe
  • history of warfare and violence


Negotiating secularity – discourses on secularism among Bosnian Muslims 1878 – 2015

Islamic societies and religious cultures are usually seen as particularly “resistant” to concepts of secularity. Bosnian Islam, however, illustrates that Muslim societies also have time and again been confronted with the “challenge” of secularism and have tried to negotiate the boundaries between the religious and the secular. The Bosnian Muslim population (both in terms of a religious and an ethnic group) have had to face such challenges three times in their modern history: 

(1) Following the end of the Ottoman rule over Bosnia and its integration into the Habsburg Monarchy in 1878, Bosnian Muslims not only had to adapt to a new “Christian” empire, but also to a policy of imperial modernisation and a secular “mission civilisatrice”. They reacted with an intensive debate on issues such as education, gender relations and the practices of daily life, trying to re-interpret the differentiation between the religious and the non-religious fields. Their intention being to make it possible to integrate into their new environment without giving up their religious and cultural identity.
(2) Socialism, following the political changes at the end of World War II, did not end these debates, but only created a new and different discursive framework. The Communist Party´s attempt to create and define a so-called “Muslim nation” in terms of ethnicity, but not of religion, for a second time forced the Muslim population to re-negotiate their identity between Islamic religious and cultural practices on the one hand and the Party´s expectations for a secular “Muslim nation” on the other.
(3) The end of socialism, the bloody dissolution of Yugoslavia and the creation of an independent, if extremely fragile Bosnian state, has again created new conditions for these debates. Being officially religiously neutral and laical, the question of the character and the institutional order of the new Bosnian state has nevertheless opened an intensive, conflicting and extremely heterogeneous debate, in which not only secular and clerical elites, but also transnational Islamic actors, again find themselves struggling over the boundaries between the religious and the secular.


2016 - present

Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, Leibniz-Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg (GER)

2012 - 2016

Member and Chair, Scientific Advisory Board of the Hannah Arendt Institute for the Research on Totalitarianism, Dresden (GER)

2010 - 2016
​2000 - 2006
1995 - present

Professor of East and Southeast European HIstory, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

1991 - 1995
1986 - 1991

Senior Researcher, Südost-Institut München, München (GER)

1982 - 1985

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg (GER)

Relevant Publications

  • Höpken, Wolfang. "'Modern wars' and 'backward societies':  The Balkan Wars in 20th century European war-history," in The Balkan Wars. Experience, Perception, Remembrance, Vol 2. Edited by Katrin Boeckh and Sabine Rutar: New York: Palgrave Macmillan, in press.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang and Wim van Meurs (eds). Der erste Weltkrieg auf dem Balkan: Ereignis, Erfahrung und Erinnerung, Munich 2017.
  • Höpken, Wolfang. "Inszenierungen des Imperiums. Imperiale Herrschaftslegitimierung in Österreich-Ungarn, Russland und dem Osmanischen Reich 1850–1914," in (Südost-)Europa. Narrative der Bewegtheit. Festschrift für Angela Richter. Edited by Eva Kowollik, Gabriela Lehmann-Carli, and Tatjana Petzer, 455-501. Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2017.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. "'Ge-teilte' Gedächtnisse. Die Erinnerung an den Ersten Weltkrieg auf dem Balkan," in Der Erste Weltkrieg – La Grande Guerre – The Great War – Veliki Rat. Erinnerung zwischen Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. Edited by Angela Richter, Dorothee Röseberg, and Sabine Volk-Birke, 31-63. Berlin: Logos, 2017.Höpken, Wolfgang. „Herrschaft und Alltag auf dem Balkan: Kontinuitäten und Brüche zwischen Nationalstaatlichkeit und Post-Sozialismus,“ in Europäisierung – Globalisierung –Tradition. Herrschaft und Alltag in Südosteuropa. Edited by Wolfgang Höpken, Klaus Roth, and Gabriella Schubert, 55–145. München: Otto Sagner, 2015.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Erinnerungskulturen: Vom Zeitalter der Nationalstaatlichkeit bis zum Post-Sozialismus,“ in Handbuch Balkan. Edited by Uwe Hinrichs, Thede Kahl, and Petra Himstedt-Vaid, 177–240. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Der Exodus: Muslimische Emigration aus Bulgarien im19. und 20. Jahrhundert,“ in Osmanen und Islam in Südosteuropa. Edited by Reinhard Lauer and Hans Georg Majer, 303–432. Göttingen: de Gruyter, 2013.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. "'Durcherrschte Freiheit'? Wie autoritär (oder wie liberal) war Titos Jugoslawien?" in Jugoslawien in den 1960er Jahren. Edited by Hannes Grandits and Holm Sundhaussen, 39-65. Wiesbaden:  Harrasowitz, 2013.
  • Höpken, Wolfang. "'Gewaltschock Jugoslawien'. Perzeptionen und Projektionen in Deutschland und Frankreich." Südosteuropa,  61/4 (2013): 478-94.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Gibt es eine balkanische politische Kultur?“ in Politische Kultur in (Südost) Europa. Edited by Sonja Schüler, 23–44. München: Sagner 2012.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Die „südosteuropäische Stadt,“ in Urbanisierung und Stadtentwicklung in Südosteuropa vom 19. bis zum 21. Jahrhundert. Edited by Thomas Bohn and Marie-Janine Calic, 67–91. München: Sagner, 2010.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Institution - Building, Political Culture and Identity in Bulgaria: The Challenge of ‘Europeanization’,” in Shifting Identities: Bulgaria and Europe. Edited by Stefanos Katsikas, 23–32. London et al.: Anthem Press, 2010.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Zerklüftete Gedächtnisse: Erinnerungskulturen in Südosteuropa,“ in Die Vielfalt Europas, Identitäten und Räume. Edited by Winfried Eberhard and Christian Lübke, 311–19. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2009 (English translation: “Fissured memories, Memory Culture in Southeastern Europe,” in The plurality of Europe: Identitites and Spaces. Edited by Winfried Eberhard and Christian Lübke, 289–97. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2010).
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Stadt und Zivilgesellschaft. Anmerkungen aus historischer Perspektive,“ in Zivilgesellschaftliche Entwicklungen in Südosteuropa. Edited by Anton Sterbling, 111–56. München: Sagner, 2009.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang and Ulf Brunnbauer. Transformationsprobleme Bulgariens im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Historische und ethnologische Perspektive. München: Kubon & Sagner, 2007.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Between Civic identity and nationalism: History textbooks in East Central and South Eastern Europe,” in Democratic transition in Croatia. Value transformation, education and Media. Edited by Sabrina Ramet and Davorka Matic, 163–92. College Station: Texas University Press, 2007.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Die ‘fehlende Klasse’? Bürgertum in Südosteuropa im 19./20. Jahrhundert,“ in Transformationsprobleme Bulgariens im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Historische und ethnologische Perspektive. Edited by Ulf Brunnbauer and Wolfgang Höpken, 22–70. München: Kubon & Sagner, 2007 (also in: Clio im südosteuropäischen Diskurs. Festschrift für Andrej Mitrovic zum 70. Geburtstag. Edited by Ditt Dahlmann, Milan Kosanovic, Milan Ristovic, and Ranka Gasic, 77-117. Bonn: Michael-Zikic-Stiftung, 2007).
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Staatlichkeit, Ethnogenese und Kultur: Narrative und symbolische Muster nationaler Identitätskonstruktionen auf dem Balkan im 19. und 20 Jahrhundert,“ in Reiche und Territorien in Ostmitteleuropa. Historische Beziehungen und politische Herrschaftslegitimation. Edited by Dietmar Willoweit and Hans Lemberg, 405–49. München: de Gruyter, 2006.
  • Höpken, Wolfgang. „Schrittmacher der Moderne? Urbanisierung und städtische Lebensweise in den Metropolen Südosteuropas im 19. Und frühen 20. Jahrhundert,“ in Die europäische Stadt im 20. Jahrhundert. Wahrnehmung - Entwicklung - Erosion. Edited by Klaus Tenfelde and Friedrich Lenger, 59–102. Köln, Wien: Böhlau, 2006.