'Allah is in Fashion': The Iranian Revolution in Non-Aligned Yugoslavia


  • George Loftus FU Berlin




Despite its recent resurgence in Cold War scholarship, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) remains elusive. Outside of certain diplomatic or political-economic theatres, our understanding of the organisation is limited. This is particularly the case for the effects of the Non-Aligned Movement below the state-level and amongst individuals and groups ‘on the ground’ in its member states. This paper is an intervention into this gap in the literature, examining experiences of ‘actually-existing Non-Alignment’ in Yugoslavia through responses to the Iranian Revolution. The Iranian Revolution presented both a problem and an opportunity in the minds of many Yugoslavs. Occurring towards the end of Non-Alignment’s time as a pillar of Yugoslav society, Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamist movement was a world-historical movement that forced groups from across Yugoslav society to reckon with its meaning. What this paper argues is that such interpretations were developed out of experiences of Non-Alignment. As such, the ‘imaginative geographies’ of the NAM and the interactions they enabled since 1961 provided the foundation for reactions to the Iranian Revolution. In turn, events in Iran would influence the development of the NAM’s role in a changing Yugoslavia, specifically as it pertained to the lives of Muslims. Depicting the clashing and shifting interpretations of the Iranian Revolution by Yugoslavia’s Muslim and state institutions, this paper advances our understanding of how Non-Alignment was lived and how this global entity founded upon anti-imperialism bled into the daily experiences of Yugoslavs as ‘Non-Aligned subjects.’