Abstract: This essay is a review of Maria Falina’s book, which investigates the complex interaction between the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), nationalism, and politics in Yugoslavia during the interwar period. It delves into Maria Falina’s ideas, historical context, and various perspectives that she offers. Falina questions commonly held beliefs about the natural relationship between religion and Serbian nationalism, and digs into the SOC’s changing role as a political actor during a period of profound social and political change. Falina investigates the influence of people such as Nikolaj Velimirović and Justin Popović, the Church’s reaction to the Yugoslav state, religious competition, and modernity issues.

Keywords: Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), interwar Yugoslavia, nationalism, religion and politics, historiography


In recent decades, a part of Western scholarship has adopted a critical rhetoric about the Orthodox Church in general, and, following the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, against the Serbian Orthodox Church as well. This negative discourse reaches back into the country’s past in certain circumstances. Maria Falina’s most recent book follows a similar pattern. Falina examines the subtle interactions that occurred in the relationship between religion, nationalism, and politics, using the SPC’s position in the Kingdom of SHS/Yugoslavia during the interwar period as a case study. The author criticises Serbian historiography’s claims about organic historical links between the Serbian people and Orthodoxy. In this regard, the book may be valuable to domestic scholars as an incentive to turn to theoretical concerns and examine this topic from multiple perspectives. Despite her harsh criticism of the creation of Serbian historiography, Falina rests her conclusions only partially on the finding of new sources; their scope is based on previously published works and materials. Although there is a scarcity of data on the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the international period, this should not be used to justify reaching certain debatable conclusions that fi t into the developed model. A more comprehensive and precise understanding of the studied issue can be offered by adding new sources and further research.