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Culture, Civilization, And Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece

Culture, Civilization, And Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece

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Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece
Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece

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Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of GreeceAuthor(s): Laurie Kain HartSource:
American Ethnologist,
Vol. 26, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 196-220Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological AssociationStable URL:
Accessed: 29/11/2008 01:22
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culture, civilization,anddemarcationat thenorthwestbordersofGreece
LAURIEKAINHART-HaverfordCollegeAli Pashaused Greekalmostas his officialanguage,and over thegateof his castle is aninscriptionnGreeknwhich heclaimsdescentfromPyrrhusKingofEpirus.hegreatepic poemof more thantenthousand inesrelatingll hisexploitswhichitwas hisgreatdelighto haveread ohimbyitsauthorHajjiSekhret,MoslemAlbanian romDhelvino,swrittenntirelynGreek.AMoslemAlbanianwho claimsinmodernGreek obe adescendentofPyrrhusnddelightsna Greekpicof hisown deedsrecited ohimbyhis own Homers amost remarkablehenomenon.WaceandThompson914:192]Inearly1790,the infamous MuslimAlbanian,AliPasha,rulerofquasi-autonomousOttomanEpiros,launched a notorious and decisive attack onhisfractiousmountain-dwellingsubjects,theChristianSuliotes.Inthe sameyear,Mozart'soperaCosiFanTutte(SoDoTheyAll,or,They'reAll LikeThat)openedinVienna.The Albanianmotif wasintheair,andMozart'slibrettist,Lorenzo daPonte,madegooduse ofit. Theplotof theopera,setinNaples,isaversionof thewagertheme that motivates Boccaccio'sDecameron andShakespeare's Cymbeline.Thestoryinvolves twoItaliansuitors,FerrandoandGuglielmo,who,challenged byDonAlfonso,declaretheir fiancees to be abovetemptationandagreetoputthisconstancyto the test.Accordingly,FerrandoandGuglielmosay goodbyeto thewomenandpretendto leave forwar.Inshortordertheyreturn,disguisedasdashingAlbanian noblemen. The ladies'maid,De-spina-thenameisGreek-isthe first togreettheexoticallyattired "Albanians."She isimpressedbut voices confusion.Announcingthe visitors to hermistresses,sheexclaims,"Whatappearances!whatcostumes!whatfigures!what mustaches!Idon't knowifthese creatures areVlachsorTurks;Vlachs, Turks;Turks,Vlachs?"' Howperfectanexpressionof the anomalousandvexingpositionof the AlbanianinAdriaticcivilization.2Despinaknows the men are notGreeks.Onlytwopossibilitiesremain-willtheybe Turksor Latins?Inthe18thcentury,theVlachswere transhumantpastoralists,merchants,andintellectualswidelydispersed throughoutthe southernBalkans,andthey spokea Latinlanguage.)And furthermoredoesthiscostuming,Thecollapseofthe CommunistregimeinAlbaniaafter1990 ledto overt tensionsbetween GreeceandAlbania as aresult,ontheonehand,of massiveillegalAlbanianimmigrationto Greeceand,on theother,newquestions concerningthestatus andsecurityof the GreekminorityinsouthernAlbania.Duringthe 20thcentury,nation-constructionacrossthe Greek-Albanianborder involved therecip-rocal differentiationofheterogeneous populationsintobipolarGreek andAlbaniannationalities.Inthisarticle,Iconsiderthepublicrhetoric anddiplomatic processesinvolvedindistinguishingGreekandAlbanianpopulations.Isuggestthatthroughattentionto borderhistory, segmentarymodelsofculturalidentitycan beusefullymarriedto thetheoryofnationalismat thescale of the state.TheGreek-Albaniancase demonstratesboththecentralityof the borderto thelegitimationof the stateand themarginalityof actual borderpopulationswhopersistentlygeneratecondi-tions ofsocialheterogeneity.[Greece,Albania, nationalism,ethnicity,border,stereotype]
AmericanEthnologist26(1):196-220.Copyright?1999,AmericanAnthropologicalAssociation.
196americanethnologist
 
do thosemustaches,signifyless or more?Arethey manlychiefs-orpuppets?ClearlytheseAlbaniansarehilariously,extravagantly,indecipherable.
stealingandplundering
However trivialand fantasticthe conceitappears,da Ponte'sscenario madegoodculturalandpoliticalsensein1790 and has notlost its resonancetoday.The Albanian of Greekpopularideologyisstillashadowy figure.WhentheAlbanian national football teamplayedamatchagainstitsGreekcounterpartin Athens in1990,the Athenian fans chanted: "You don't haveacountry[homeland]/Youdon't have apeople/Whatareyou doinghere/Onthisplayingfield?"[Dhenekhetepatridha/Dhen ekhetelao/Tiirthate nakanete/Stoyipedhoafto?].3Themessageis not hard tograsp.Havingnoplaceandnopeople,the Albanians cannot constitute a nationalteam;if theirs is not a nationalteam,it cannothaveany placeon the nationalplayingfield.Radical irredentistGreeksputthe matterunambiguously:Stealingndplunderingheculturalheritagefotherpeoples[Albanians]hould understandhat hereisnoquestionof theirecuringa uniform ational-racialethnofiletiki]dentity,becauseheyhave neverconstituted national-racialnity.Theywere andare-whateverthey say-thedescendantsfGreeks(70%),Slav-Turks20%)and variousFrankishribesFrangikonilon]10%).Giorgiou993:196]On whatgroundsis an Albanianfiguredto be less determinate than aGreek,aVlach,oraTurk?Christiansinex-Ottoman domains havefrequentlyandstrategicallyconflated the termsMuslim and Turkto ostracizeMuslim orMuslim-descendedpopulationsas alien(asinthecurrent Serb-Bosnianconflict;see Sells1996),andAlbanians,thoughof severalreligions,havebeen so labeled.ButGiorgiou,for the mostpart,claimsthemasGreeks.Theallegedindeter-minacyof Albanians can also beexploited byAlbaniansthemselves. Newsreportsfromearly1996explainthatduringthe firstsixmonths of1995 at least45,000Albaniansofficially changedtheir names from MuslimorCatholic Albanian forms toGreekforms-presumablyintheinterests ofsecuringvisas toGreece.4What makes this maneuverpossibleis apeculiarsetofconceptualconventions about the natureofAlbanians and Greeks. Theseconventionshavetheiroriginsinthemodels ofnationalityinvokedbyGreekand Albanianspokesmeninarticulatingclaims to contestedterritorynnorthwestGreece andsouthern Albaniaduringandafterthe breakupof theOttomanEmpire.Diplomatic argumentsemployed byAlbanian andGreekspokesmeninthe internationalarena in1912-1 3 andin1919(atthe Paris PeaceConference)share auniverseofdiscourse butembracecomplementarily opposed strategies.Thevocabularyofthisdiscourse survives intothepresent.In arecent letter to PresidentClinton,adelegationofAlbanian-Americans-insist-ingthat,despiterecentcrises,AlbaniansandGreekshave ahistoryofclose tiesandcoopera-tion-observes:"Historicallythe two nations have livedinpeacewith eachother,andrelationsbetween the twopeopleshavecontinuouslybeencordial,mainlybecause there isconsiderableAlbanian bloodinGreeceandconsiderable Greek cultureinAlbania"(Repishti1994b:6).5Itis this distinction between Albanian"blood" and Greek"culture"-termsthat,as Just(1989)hasshown,arecharacteristicallyelidedinpractice-thatIintend toexploreinthis article. Asotherscholarshaveshown,themetaphorofbloodinGreekstatebuildinghas beenabundantlysuccessful(Herzfeld 1997:74).But,intheserviceof anexpansionistcivilization,Greece hasalsoroundlyattacked bloodpolitics.Inthe dialecticsofnationalself-definition,eachapproachhas its moment.
theborder and theethnos
Atthe turn ofthe 20thcentury,theregionthatis nowsouthernAlbania,GreekEpiros,andnorthwestern GreekMacedonia(seeFigure1)held amultilingualandmultireligious population,andinsomequartersitstill does.Forexample,villagersinthe FlorinadistrictintheGreekculture,civilization,anddemarcation 197

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