Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Darrell Slider, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Giovanna Benadusi, Ph.D.


Montenegro, Nationalism, Ethnicity, National identity, Elite competition


This study aims to answer two interlinked central questions with respect to Montenegrins’ divide over statehood and identity: Why and how Montenegrins, whom were once called ‘the purest and the best of Serbs’, sought to end their century-long common state experience with Serbia and instead establish their own nation-state in 2006, and what explains the rise of Montenegrin national identity and its transformation into nationalism? In attempting to answer these questions, it traces the historical development of Montenegrin national thought dating back to the early 20th century when Montenegro was annexed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Through the use and examination of opinion polls, newspaper articles, political and ethno-cultural state policies implemented by the ruling political elites, and their interviews, public speeches, and press conferences, this study also seeks to unveil how Montenegrin-ness evolved over time.

The central argument running through this thesis is that Montenegrin nationalism as a political phenomenon was precipitated through elite competition. In their competition over social, political, or economic resources, the Montenegrin elites, through the implementation of political and ethno-cultural state policies and the active use of media outlets, managed to turn certain facts and events into points of reference for the citizens of Montenegro in the way they identify themselves. Thus, those events have become the basis of people’s belonging to a certain community and helped demarcate that specific community (Montenegrins) from that of Serbs. Backed by the reconstructed meaning of Montenegrin-ness, this emerging Montenegrin national consciousness facilitated the breakup with Serbia and the declaration of independence on 21 May 2006.