A shrine for the nation: The material transformation of the Lovćen site in Montenegro

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Mount Lovćen holds significant cultural, political and religious symbolism in Montenegro, especially due to the fact that the mountain is the last resting place of the prince-bishop and national poet Petar II Petrovich-Njegoš (1813–1851). In the twentieth century the grave of Njegoš has undergone profound material transformations. Each of these transformations has led to heated debates about the site’s religious and national significance. During 2013, in the context of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Njegoš’ birth, the debate flared up again. This article approaches the recent discussion over the site through an in-depth and fieldwork-based study of the sacralization and the religious reinvention of the Lovćen mountain and monument. The abrupt material, semantic and practical transformations of the site in the twentieth century suggest a profound process of sacralization, which this article seeks to examine. This study of the case of Lovćen provides new insight into political contestation of identity from the point of view of material religion, and allows us to nuance our understanding of the relationship between nationhood and religion as it is materialized in monuments, places and memories in Montenegro since the independence of the country in 2006.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2017

ID: 183763902