BOSNIAK ETHNOS: IDENTITY AND NAME
Bosniaks determine their identity primarily in relation to the peoples with whom they are tied by the shared living space, origin, and language. In this respect, Bosniaks may be defined as the people of South Slav ethnic origin and language who is distinguished from other South Slavs who speak the same language (Serbs, Croats and Montenegrins) by its distinctive religious, i.e., cultural and political experiences. Each people, including Bosniaks, is the result of specific, and for a geographical territory unique historical, political and cultural processes and circumstances. Bosniaks would, therefore, be the part of the South Slav ethnicity who was formed as the people and who lives in the specific historical space of the idea of Bosnian statehood and of Bosnian cultural thought. This space is located in the Balkans and Europe and represents, besides their Slav origin, language, and Islam, the other two elements of Bosniak identity. From the time of Austro-Hungarian occupation, in 1878, until our times, there were several shifts of Bosniak identity, depending on the changes of political and socioeconomic circumstances in Bosnia and its close neighborhood. These shifts ranged from religious towards secular, from traditional to modern understanding of life and behavior, with a lot of intertwining and retrogradations. In the Bosniak identity as a collective historical fact there are many individual nuances and distinctions that each of its member experiences, feels and expresses in his or her own way.