trusting it to an ad hoc multi-national administration whose divisions and differences competing Somali interest-groups will mercilessly

exploit. 0

I. M. Lewis

I. Thus, when I was interviewed for a number of television programmes at this time, the people who interviewed me told me that their producers were only interested in the 'famine angle' and would be unlikely to broadcast what I said about the conflicts which had caused it.

2. Qat leaves, which look like privet hedge, are chewed raw, traditionally on religious or social occasions when a group of men meet to talk in the evening. The active agents are compounds of the ephedrine family.

3. For an excellent, first-hand study of contemporary Mogadishu street gangs by a well-informed political scientist see Ronald Marchal, 'Formes de la violence et de son contr61e dans un espace urbain en guerre: les Mooryaan de Mogadishu', Cahiers d' Etudes Africaines, no. 2, 1993. On the political economy of the militias, see the excellent first-hand anthropological study by Marcel Djama, 'Sur la violence en Somalie; genese et dynamique des formations armees', Politique Afncaine, 47, 1992, pp.147-152.

4. See I.M. LeWIS, A Pastoral Democracy, Holmes and Meier, New York, 1982 (first edition, OUP, 1961); A Modern History of Somalia, Westview P., Boulder, Colorado, 1988; Blood and Bone: the Call of Kinship in Somali Culture, Red Sea P., New Jersey, 1993 (December, forthcoming). See also D. Laitin and S. Samata, Somalia:

Nation in Search of a State, Westview P., 1987.

5. Under the aegis of the British NGO ActionAid, Ahmed Yusuf Farah and I are currently carrying out research on the effectiveness of the elders' peace-making initiatives.

6. This small group of about ten social scientists with specialist expertise on Somaha IS mtemational in composition and includes three social anthropologists. WIth the aid of the Swedish government, four meetings have so far been held jointly with the leadership of the political division of the UN in Somalia. The first two meetings were attended by the UN Special Envoy, Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun. The Life and Peace Institute also publishes the

very useful and informative Horn of Africa Bulletin.

7. For preliminary and incomplete accounts see K. Menkhaus and T. Lyons, 'What are the lessons to be learned from Somalia?', CSIS Africa Notes, no. 144, January 1993, Washington; R. Bonner, 'Why we went. How the United Nations turned its back on Somalia', Mother Jones Magazine, March/April 1993.

8. See I.M.Lewis, 'Restoring hope in a future of peace', Cooperazione, Rome, no. 123, March 1993, pp. 43-45; 'Somalia: beyond the warlords', Africa Watch, 5. 2, March 1993; 'Somalia: operation restore hope, a preliminary assessment', Africa Rights, May 1993.

9. See New York Newsday, 'Interview with Said Samatar', II January 1993 and the same author's editorial in the Washington Post of 2 December 1992. See also I.M. Lewis, 'Pacifying the warlords', The Times, 12 December 1992, and 'Out from the shadow of Somalia's warlords', The Guardian, letters, 16 January 1993.

10. See Africa Watch and Africa Rights cit.

II. See Amnesty International, 'Somalia: A Human Rights Disaster',5 August 1992 and the same organization's 'Somalia: Update on a Disaster - Proposals for Human Rights' 30 April 1993.

12. Clearly, grain requirements in Somalia need to be properly monitored. There is some evidence that the policy of flooding Somalia with aid supplies may have started depressing local market prices of grain to the point where farmers in the agricultural regions of southern Somalia no longer have an incentive in producing for the market. Here, as in so many respects, there is an urgent need to coordinate more effectively the chaotic aid scene.

13. For a brilliant demonstration of the importance of oral culture, particularly oral poetry, in politics, see Said S. Samatar, Oral Poetry and Somali Nationalism, Cambridge, 1982. Said Samatar is Professor of History at Rutgers University. The consequent importance, and popularity, of radro broadcasting and its political significance in Somalia is well-known. As I stressed at the early stages of the UN operation in my article 'In the land of the living dead' (Sunday Times, 30 August 1992, pp.8-9), control of the radio would be a crucial issue.

Claims to Macedonian identity

The Macedonian Question and the breakup of Yugoslavia


The author is professor of anthropology at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, and the author of The Death Rituals of Rural Greece and Firewalking and Religious Healing: The Anastenaria of Northern Greece and the

American Firewalking Movement (both published by Princeton u.r.; He is currently writing a book onjthe international con/ift between Greeks-and Macedonians over which group has the right to identify itself as

M acedonians.

During the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia, world attention has focused quite understandably on the horrors of the killing and the ethnic cleansing which have been taking place in Croatia and Bosnia. By contrast relatively little attention has been paid to Macedonia; in large part, I suspect, because the situation there has, until now at least, remained so peaceful.

Historically, however, Macedonia has often been a major source of conflict and instability in the Balkans. Even now it lies at the centre of a bitter dispute between Greeks and Macedonians over which group has the right to identify itself as Macedonians. This latest phase of the Macedonian Question involves two major issues: the human rights of the Macedonian minority in northern Greece and the international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia. This controversy, in many ways a dispute over national symbols such as names, flags and famous ancestors, has been largely confined to the arenas of international diplomacy and public relations. Nevertheless, the potential for violence is real, for the conflict between Greeks and Macedonians is an expression of the same forces of ethnic nationalism and

irredentism - the desire to create ethnically pure and homogeneous nation-states - that lie at the heart of the more violent conflict that rages now between the Serbs, the Croats, and the Muslims of Bosnia.

The Macedonian Question in Balkan history

The Macedonian Question has dominated Balkan history and politics for over a hundred years. During the Ottoman period, which lasted in Macedonia from the fourteenth century until 1913, the population of Macedonia included an amazing number of different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, including Slavic and Greek speaking Christians, Turkish and Albanian speaking Muslims, Vlachs, Jews and Gypsies. Toward the end of the nineteenth century the population of Macedonia was increasingly being defined from various external nationalist perspectives in terms of national categories such as Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians and Turks. Ottoman authorities, however, continued to divide the population of the empire into administrative units, or millets, on the basis of religious identity rather than language, ethnicity or nationality. The hegemony

ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993


I would like to thank the Fulbright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities for their support of my research on the Macedonian conflict as well as Victor Friedman, Michael Herzfeld, Anastasia Karakasidou, and Riki van Boeschoten for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. Because this topic is so highly contested, I feel a particular obligation to stress that the views presented here are fully my own.


which the Greeks exercised over the Orthodox Christian millet was seriously challenged for the first time by the establishment of an independent Bulgarian Church in 1870. Orthodox communities in Macedonia now had the choice of affiliating with either the Greek or the Bulgarian national church. This marked an intensification of the 'Macedonian Struggle' in which Greek, Bulgarian, and to a lesser extent Serbian, irredentist claims came into conflict over who would gain control over the people and the territory of Macedonia.

By the 1890s the three Balkan states were each fielding irregular bands of guerilla fighters who attacked the Turks, fought each other, and terrorized the local population. In addition, through the construction of churches and schools and the assignment of priests and teachers each state was conducting an intense propaganda campaign, whose goal was to instil the 'proper' sense of national identity among the Orthodox Christians of Macedonia. The Macedonian Struggle reached its climax in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, which ended with the partitioning of Macedonia among Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia (later Yugoslavia).

Since 1913 the fates of the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Bulgarian (Pirin) Macedonia, Greek (Aegean) Macedonia and Yugoslav (Vardar) Macedonia have varied considerably. With the exception of a brief period following World War II, the Bulgarian government has officially denied the existence of a Macedonian nation, arguing instead that all the Slavs of Macedonia are Bulgarians. Since that time its policy toward the Macedonians in Bulgaria has been one of forced assimilation into mainstream Bulgarian society.

The Greek government has also consistently denied the existence of both a Macedonian nation and a Macedonian minority in northern Greece and has adopted a policy of forced assimilation toward the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Greek Macedonia. After 1913 all Slavic personal and place names were Hellenized, and all evidence of the existence of Slavic literacy was destroyed. As a result of the population exchanges which took place between Greece and Bulgaria and Greece and Turkey in the 1920s, the number of people in Greek Macedonia who had a sense of Greek national identity increased substantially.

Under the Metaxas dictatorship of 1936-40 repression of the Slavic speakers, who by this time had increasingly begun to identify themselves as Macedonians, was particularly severe: people who spoke Macedonian were beaten, fined and imprisoned. After the Greek Civil War (1946-49), in which many Macedonians supported the unsuccessful Communist cause, some 35,000 Macedonians fled to Yugoslavia and other countries in eastern Europe under extremely difficult circumstances (Kofos 1964:186). In the decades that followed, conservative Greek governments continued this policy of persecution and assimilation, perhaps the most egregious examples of which were the 'language oaths' administered in several Macedonian villages, which required Macedonians to swear that they would renounce their 'Slavic dialect' and from then on speak only Greek (Pribichevich 1982:246).

Until World War II the official Serbian (and Yugoslav) position was that the Slavs of Macedonia did not constitute a distinct ethnic or national group, but that they were all 'South Serbs'. On 2 August 1944, however, Tito and the leaders of the Communist Party bf Yugoslavia established the People's Republic of Macedonia with its capital of Skopje as one of the states of the new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At this time the existence of a Macedonian nation was officially rec-

ognized. By 1950 a standard literary Macedonian language had been developed and in 1967 an autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church was established. In this way Macedonians achieved a significant degree of cultural autonomy, even if they failed to achieve complete national independence.

With the death of Tito in 1980, the constraints which the central Yugoslav government had placed on the expression of Macedonian nationalism were gradually loosened. As Yugoslavia finally began to collapse in the early 1990s, the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, in a referendum held on 8 September 1991, voted overwhelmingly in favour of initiating the process of establishing a completely sovereign and independent Macedonian state. 1

Competing claims to Macedonian identity

This fledgling state of Macedonia, however, has faced a difficult struggle for international recognition because of the fierce opposition mounted by Greece over what Greece claims to be the misappropriation of a name that 'was, is, and always will be Greek'. According to the Greek nationalist position on the Macedonian Question, because Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians were Greeks, and because ancient and modem Greece are bound in an unbroken line of racial and cultural continuity, it is only Greeks who have the right to identify themselves as Macedonians, not the Slavs of southern Yugoslavia, who settled in Macedonia in the sixth century AD and who called themselves 'Bulgarians' until 1944. Greeks, therefore, generally refer to Macedonians as 'Skopians', a practice which would be comparable to calling Greeks 'Athenians'.

The negation of Macedonian identity in Greek nationalist ideology focuses on three main points: the existence of a Macedonian nation, a Macedonian language and a Macedonian minority in Greece. From the Greek nationalist perspective, there cannot be a Macedonian nation since there has never been an independent Macedonian state. The Macedonian nation is an 'artificial creation', an 'invention', of Tito, who 'baptized' a 'mosaic of nationalities' with the Greek name'Macedonians'.

Similarly, because the language spoken by the ancient Macedonians was Greek, the Slavic language spoken by the 'Skopians ' cannot be called 'the Macedonian language'. Greek sources generally refer to it as 'the linguistic idiom of Skopje' and describe it as a corrupt and impoverished dialect of Bulgarian. Finally, the Greek government denies the existence of a Macedonian minority in northern Greece, claiming that there exists only a small group of 'Slavophone Hellenes' or 'bilingual Greeks', who speak Greek and 'a local Slavic dialect' but have a 'Greek national consciousness' (Kofos 1964:226).

From the Greek nationalist perspective, then, the use of the name 'Macedonian' by the 'Slavs of Skopje' constitutes a 'felony', an 'act of plagiarism' against the Greek people. By calling themselves 'Macedonians' the Slavs are 'stealing' a Greek name; they are 'embezzling' Greek cultural heritage; they are 'falsifying' Greek history. As Evangelos Kofos, a historian employed by the Greek Foreign Ministry, told a foreign reporter 'It is as if a robber came into my house and stole my most precious jewels - my history, my culture, my identity' (Boston Globe, 5 Jan. 1993, p. 9).

Macedonians, on the other hand, are committed to affirming their existence as a unique people with a unique history, culture and identity, and to gaining recognition of this fact internationally. In asserting what

ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993

Top: A Greek newspaper cartoon in which the long arm of Bulgaria threatens to stamp northern Greece with a seal bearing a representation of Alexander the Great and the name 'Macedonia' written in a pseudo-Cyrillic alphabet. Nea Ellada, published in Melbourne, 31 October 1992.

Centre: A Macedonian cartoon in which the Republic of Macedonia is surrounded by a school of hungry sharks. In other cartoons, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece are depicted as hungry wolves. Australian Macedonian Weekly, published in Melbourne, 28 January 1992

Bottom: a Greek cartoon in which the European Community (EOK) gestures towards 'Skopje' and says to the Prime Minister of Greece, Mitsotakis, 'We'll call her New (young) Macedonia and you (good-for-nothing) Old Greece, OK?'. Old Greece is the term used to refer to southern and central Greece, the area that constituted the Greek state before 1913. Nea Ellada, 11 January 1992.

Tau KOxmz M'7f{'dIrovAou

ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993


Top: a Greek cartoon in which 'Macedonia of Skopje', dressed in a dilapidated costume of Alexander the Great, says to Greece, 'We don't lay claim to any territory, my son! Have you heard us ask for Bactria, Gaugemela, Gordium or Granicus?' [places in Asia Minor and the Near East visited by Alexander in the fourth century BC}. Nea Ellada, 11 January 1992.

Centre: In this Greek cartoon, as the Republic of Macedonia runs off towards the UN with the soccer ball (marked with the name 'Macedonia'), the Prime Minister of Greece, Mttsotakts, shouts to the referee, French President Mitterrand, 'Mr Referee! Mr Referee! He picked up the ball with his hands!'. Neos Kosmos, Melbourne, 14 January 1993.

Bottom: In an Athenian newspaper, a group of barbarians (Slavs, Mongols, Tartars and Huns) waiting outside the office of the Prime Minister of Greece are told, 'J'm sorry, but the Prime Minister is away on vacation. You'll have to wait'.


ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993

A map circulated in Melbourne by extreme Macedontan nationalists, who support the concept of a 'United Macedonia'

Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagtned Communities. London:Verso.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1990.

Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy, Public Culture 2: 1-24.

Barth, Fredrik, ed. 1969.

Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. Boston:

they sometimes refer to as their 'ethnospecificity', Macedonians insist they are not Serbs, Yugoslavs, Bulgarians or Greeks. They also reject hyphenated names such as Yugoslav-Macedon ian or Greck-Maccdonian as 'divisive labels' indicative of a 'partition mentality' that needs to be overcome. There are no Slav-Macedonians, either, any more than there are Slav-Russians or SlavPoles. According to many Macedonians, those Greeks and Bulgarians who live in Macedonia (whose nationality is Greek or Bulgarian) may identify themselves as 'Macedonians', but in a regional or geographical sense only.

Extreme Macedonian nationalists, who are concerned with demonstrating the continuity between ancient and modem Macedonians, deny that they are Slavs and claim to be the direct descendants of Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians. The more moderate Macedonian position, generally adopted by better educated Macedonians and publically endorsed by Kiro Gligorov, the first president of the newly independent Republic of Macedonia, is that modem Macedonians have no relation to Alexander the Great, but are a Slavic people whose ancestors arrived in Macedonia in the sixth century AD. Proponents of both the extreme and the moderate Macedonian positions stress that the ancient Macedonians were a distinct non-Greek people.

In addition to affirming the existence of the Macedonian nation, Macedonians are concerned with affirming the existence of a unique Macedonian language as well. While acknowledging the similarities between Macedonian and other South Slavic languages, they point to the distinctions that set it apart as a separate language. They also emphasize that although standard literary Macedonian was only formally created and recognized in 1944, the Macedonian language has a history of over a thousand years dating back to the Old Church Slavonic used by Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century.

Although all Macedonians agree that Macedonian minorities exist in Bulgaria and Greece, and that these minorities have been subjected to harsh policies of forced assimilation, there are two different positions with regard to what their future should be. The goal of more extreme Macedonian nationalists is to create a 'free, united, and independent Macedonia' by 'liberating' the parts of Macedonia 'temporarily occupied' by Bulgaria and Greece. More moderate Macedonian nationalists recognize the inviolability of the Bulgarian and Greek borders and explicitly renounce any territorial claims against the two countries. They do, however, demand that Bulgaria and Greece recognize the existence of Macedonian minorities in their countries and

grant them the basic human rights they deserve?

The construction of Macedonian identity

From an anthropological perspective the Macedonian Question in its current form can be seen as a conflict between two opposing nationalist ideologies, both of which reify nations, national cultures and national identities; project them far back into the past; and treat them as eternal, natural and immutable essences. The anthropology of nationalism must dereify the nation; it must deconstruct national cultures and identities. These tasks can be accomplished by analysing the process of nation formation, the process by which nations, national cultures and national identities are constantly constructed and reconstructed from pre-existing cultural forms.

Among the theoretical approaches which are most useful in this process are Anderson's (1983) work on nations as 'imagined communities', the work of Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983) and Handler and Linnekin (1984) on the 'invention of tradition', and the earlier work of Fredrik Barth (1969) on ethnic and, by extension, national groups as 'categories of ascription and identification' which people use to classify themselves and others. With the benefit of theoretical perspectives such as these, anthropologists can avoid being coopted by the persuasiveness of either the Greek or the Macedonian nationalist myth. Instead they can concentrate on the analysis of the historical processes through which the Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek and Macedonian nations have been constructed.

Such an anthropologically informed history of the construction of a Macedonian national identity does not begin with Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians, any more than an anthropologically informed history of the construction of Greek national identity begins with the ancient Greeks. In both cases claims to racial and cultural continuity are the products of the nation-building process itself. The identity of the ancient Macedonians - particularly the question of whether or not they were Greek - was contested in antiquity, as it is now by both nationalists and serious scholars alike.

The construction of a Macedonian national identity began in the second half of the nineteenth century with the first expressions of Macedonian ethnic nationalism on the part of a small number of intellectuals like Krste Misirkov, who in 1903 called for 'the recognition of the Slavs in Macedonia as a separate nationality - Macedonians' (Misirkov 1974:73). At this time, however, the vast majority of the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Macedonia were illiterate peasants with no clearly developed sense of national identity at all. According to most disinterested. observers, any expression of national identity that was encountered among the Macedonian peasantry was very superficial and could be attributed to educational and religious propaganda or simply to terrorism. If Slavic-speaking Christians in Macedonia were pressed to state their national identity, some of them would have said they were Serbs, many of them would have said they were Greeks, but the majority of them would undoubtedly have said they were Bulga-

. 3


By the end of World War II the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Macedonia seem to have 'arrived at a state in their national development when identification with either the Serbs or Bulgarians was no longer possible' (Wilkinson 1951 :299- 300). Nevertheless, the political motivation for the recognition of a separate Macedonian nation and the creation of the People's Republic of

ANTHROPOLOGY TODA Y Vol 9 No 4, August 1993


Two maps published in the New York Times, 17 April 1992 and 16 February 1993, exemplifying different ways of depicting the 'two Macedonias':

Little Brown.

Brailsford, N. H. 1971.

Macedonia: Its Races and Their Peoples. New York: Amo P.

Featherstone, Mike, ed. 1990. Global Culture:

Nationalism, Globalization, and Modernity. London:


Friedman, Victor. 1975.

Macedonian Language and Nationalism During the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. Balkanistica. II:83-98.

Handler, Richard and Jocelyn Linnekin. 1984. Tradition, Genuine or Spurious. Journal of American Folklore. 97:273-290.

Herzfeld, Michael. 1982.

Ours Once More:

Folklore Ideology and the Making of Modern Greece. Austin: U. of Texas P.

--1987. Anthropology Through the Looking Glass. Cambridge:


Hobsbawm, Eric and Terence Ranger, eds. 1983. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge:


Jelavich, Barbara. 1983.

The History of the Balkans. 2 Vois. Cambridge: CUP.

Karakasidou, Anastasia. 1993. Politicizing Culture: Negating Ethnic Identity in Greek Macedonia. Journal of Modern Greek Studies. II: 1-28.

King, Anthony D., ed. 1991. Culture, Globalization and the World-System. Binghamton, NY:

Department of Art and


Macedonia by Tito and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia should not be underestimated. It was an effective way for Yugoslav officials to integrate Vardar Macedonia securely into the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, since it served to delegitimate both Serbian and Bulgarian claims to the area.

From an anthropological perspective the relatively recent date of the creation of a Macedonian state and the construction of a Macedonian nation, in comparison to other Balkan cases, does not mean, as Greek nationalists claim, that the Macedonian nation is 'artificial', while the Greek nation is 'genuine'. Nor does it mean that Macedonian national identity is only 'imagined', while Greek national identity is 'real', as one Greek writer (Kofos 1989:262) put it, citing Anderson in what is a clear misuse of Anderson's work to serve the goals of nationalist historiography. Both Macedonian national identity and Greek national identity are equally consrrucred."

Similarly, the Greek claim that there is no linguistic evidence to support the view that Macedonian is a distinct language and not just a dialect of Bulgarian ignores the widely accepted sociolinguistic insight that the decision as to whether a particular variety of speech constitutes a language or a dialect is always based on political rather than linguistic criteria (Trudgill 1974: 15). The existence of the Macedonian language is accepted by linguists everywhere in the world except in Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Finally, an anthropological perspective suggests that attempts by the Greek state to impose a homogeneous national culture on a group of people with different linguistic and cultural traditions may itself contribute to the creation of a national minority. By denying the existence of a Macedonian minority in northern Greece, the Greek state may be nurturing 'the very nightmare it wishes to dispel' (McDonald 1989:313).

The global conflict over Macedonian human rights and the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia The present phase of the Macedonian Question is taking place in an era of globalization, an era when the world has become 'a single place' (Robertson 1987).5 Contrary to the expectations of many, the process of globalization has not brought about the demise of the nation or the obsolescence of national identities. Instead, national communities are being 'imagined' in new ways. We are witnessing the construction of transnational national communities in which homelands and diasporas are linked through a complex network of 'global cultural flows' of people, information, money

and images that have been made possible by new satellite telecommunications networks, the ease and speed of intercontinental air travel, and the accessibility of new technologies such as video equipment and fax machines (Appadurai 1990). Another aspect of the recent globalization of nationalist conflict is the increasingly important role played in world affairs by organizations such as the United Nations and the European Community, which serve as international arenas in which national conflicts can be raised, monitored and arbitrated. It is to these organizations that nations now tum when they seek recognition, legitimacy, or support.

The transnational dimensions of the conflict between Greeks and Macedonians are all too apparent in references to 'Greece of the Five Continents' and in descriptions of Greeks of the diaspora as 'the most powerful weapon' in the arsenal of 'World Hellenism'. The 'global cultural war' (Featherstone 1990: 10) between Greeks and Macedonians over which group has the right to identify itself as Macedonians involves not only the two Balkan states of Greece and Macedonia, but Greek and Macedonian diaspora communities in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia as well. Political demonstrations in 1990-91 in Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, western Europe, Canada and Australia; international conferences sponsored by Greek organizations like the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies in Melbourne in 1988 and the Pan-Macedon ian Association in Thessaloniki and New York in 1989; and the lobbying efforts of Macedonian groups such as the Macedonian Information and Liaison Service in Brussels, the International Macedonian Lobby and the Macedonian World Congress are the vehicles through which this transnational national conflict between Greeks and Macedonians is being waged.

In the early 1990s two specific issues have dominated this conflict: the human rights of the Macedonian minority in northern Greece and the international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia. According to the entry on Greece in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1990 published by the United States Department of State (1991: 1172), there are between 20,000 and 50,000 Slavic-speakers in northern Greece, many of whom live in the relatively underdeveloped area along the border between Greece and the former Yugoslavia. Although a majority of these people have a Greek national identity (that is, they identify themselves as Greeks and as Macedonians, or as Greek-Macedonians), a significant number of them have a Macedonian national identity (that is, they identify themselves as Macedonians and not as Greeks). Since the mid

ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993

Two men dressed as Alexander the Great or ancient Macedonian warriors, at a Macedonian demonstration held in Melbourne on 1 February 1992.

Art History, SUNY at Binghamton.

Kitromilides, Pashalis. 1989. 'Imagined Communities' and the Origins of the National Question In the Balkans. European History Quarterly. 19:149-94.

Kofos, Evangelos. 1964.

Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia. Thessaloniki: Inst. for Balkan Studies.

--1989. National Heritage and National Identity in Nineteenthand Twentieth-Century Macedonia. European History Quarterly. 19: 229-267.

Lunt, Horace. 1984.

Some Sociolinguistic Aspects of Macedonian and Bulgarian. In Benjamin Stoltz et ai., eds. Language and Literary Theory. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications. Pp. 83-192.

MacDermott, Mercia. 1978. Freedom or Death: The Life of Gotse Delchev. London: The Journeyman P.

McDonald, Maryon. 1989. 'We Are Not French!' Language, Culture, and Identity in Brittany. London:


Martis, Nikolaos K. 1983. The Falsification of Macedonian History.

Athens: 'Graphic

1980s a small number of these Macedonians (many of whose families experienced severe persecution during the Greek Civil War) have become politically active and begun to demand human rights for the Macedonian minority in Greece.

In 1984 the Central Organizing Committee for Macedonian Human Rights was established in northern Greece. In the next few years, similar organizations were formed by Aegean Macedonians in diaspora communities in Canada and Australia. Among the goals of these groups are the repeal of several specific laws which discriminate against Macedonians. Two laws (passed in 1982 and 1985) explicitly exclude Macedonians from the general amnesty under which political refugees who left Greece after the Civil War were allowed to return to Greece and reclaim their property only if they were 'Greek by birth'. Another law (passed in 1982) ceased to recognize university degrees obtained in the Republic of Macedonia on the grounds that Macedonian was not an internationally recognized language.

More generally, these Macedonian human rights groups seek recognition by the Greek government of the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece. They are working to end discrimination against Macedonians in Greece in the fields of education and employment, as well as in other areas of social, cultural and political life. They want Macedonians in Greece to have the right to attend church services in Macedonian, to receive their primary and secondary education in Macedonian, and to publish newspapers and broadcast radio and television programmes in Macedonian. They also want the right to establish Macedonian cultural organizations, such as the Centre for Macedonian Culture, which was formed in Florina in 1984. Three court decisions, however, have refused to grant the Centre for Macedonian Culture legal recognition, on the grounds that its purpose was to promote the idea of the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece, an activity which was contrary to the national interests of Greece and therefore illegal. Finally, these groups have protested against police interference with village festivals where Macedonian folk songs and dances are per-

formed, as well as against the harassment and persecution of Macedonian human rights activists, some of whom have been dismissed from their jobs, denied entry into Greece, and deprived of their Greek citizenship. In April 1993, two Macedonians from the Florina region were tried, convicted and sentenced to five months in prison for asserting their Macedonian identity in an interview published in a Greek magazine.?

In 1990 an international Macedonian delegation, which included representatives from Macedonian human rights organizations in Greece, Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, as well as Europe, Canada and Australia, began to press their demands at annual meetings of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe. At one such meeting, an Australian judge of Macedonian background confronted Greek government officials over the proper definition of national identity which should apply in the dispute over the human rights of the Macedonian minority in northern Greece. This is an excellent illustration of how in the present era of globalization nation-states like Greece are being challenged simultaneously from above and below, from without and within, by international organizations on the one hand, and ethnic minorities on the other. Ethnic minorities struggling for recognition and human rights from the nation-states they inhabit are now able to mobilize the support of diaspora communities abroad. They are beginning to shift the balance of power in their favour, and away from the nation-states they are struggling against, by appealing to international organizations whose commitment to human rights and cultural pluralism generally makes them much more responsive to the plight of ethnic minorities than the governments of nation-states which are committed to nationalist ideologies of purity and homogeneity.I

Ever since the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence on 17 November 1991, the transnational conflict between Greeks and Macedonians has focused primarily on the Republic's attempts to gain international recognition first from the European Community and then from the United Nations. On 16 December 1991, the Council of Ministers of the European Community announced the conditions under which the EC would recognize the former Yugoslav republics which had declared their independence. In addition to requiring that these Republics commit themselves to protecting the human rights of the ethnic minorities living within their borders, the EC also required each republic to guarantee that it had no territorial claims against any neighbouring EC state and that it would not engage in hostile acts against any such state, including the use of a name which implied territorial claims. This requirement, which was included at the insistence of Greece, clearly applies only to Macedonia, since Macedonia is the only former Yugoslav republic that shares a border with an EC state.

After the Macedonian government provided additional constitutional guarantees that it would respect the inviolability of all international borders and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other states, an EC Arbitration Commission found that only Slovenia and Macedonia fulfilled the conditions for recognition. In addition, it specifically stated that the use of the name 'Macedonia' did not imply territorial claims toward a neighbouring state. In spite of this, however, on 15 January 1992, the EC announced that it would recognize Slovenia and Croatia, but not Macedonia.

In May 1992, the EC agreed to recognize the Republic of Macedonia, but only under a name that was ac-

ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993


Arts' of Athanassiades Bros.

Misirkov, Krste. 1974.

On Macedonian Matters. Skopje:

Macedonian Review Editions.

Nugent, Neill. 1989. The Government and Politics of the European Community. Durham, NC: Duke U. P.

Palmer, Stephen E. Jr. and Robert R. King. 1971. Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question. Hamden, CT: Archon Books.

Pollis, Adamantia. 1992.

Greek National Identity: Religious Minorities, Rights, and European Norms. Journal of Modern Greek Studies. 10:171-195.

Popov, Chris and Michael Radin. 1989. An Analysis of Contemporary Greek Government Policy on the Macedonian Issue. Macedonian Review. 19:177-202.

Poulton, Hugh. 1991.

The Balkans:

Minorities and States in Conflict. London:

Minority Rights Publications.

Pribichevich, Stoyan. 1982. Macedonia: Its People and History. University Park, PA:

Pennsylvania State U. P.

Robertson, Roland. 1987. Globalization Theory and Civilization Analysis. Comparative Civilizations Review. 17:220-30.

Tashkovski, Dragan. 1976. The Macedonian Nation. Skopje: Nasha Kniga.

Trudgill, Peter. 1974.

Sociolinguistics; An Introduction. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books.

United States Department of State. 1991. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1990. Washington, DC.

Wilkinson, Henry R. 1951. Maps and Politics: A Review of the Ethnographic Cartography of Macedonia. Liverpool:

Liverpool U. P.


ceptable to all parties concerned. A month later it expressed its readiness to recognize the Republic 'under a name which does not include the term Macedonia'. Most observers agree that the EC states supported Greece on the Macedonian issue, not because of the merits of the Greek case, which had been publicly rejected and ridiculed by officials from several member states, but because the EC Council of Ministers recognizes the right of member states to exercise an unofficial veto on issues that affect their national interests (Nugent 1989:88 and 104). Furthermore, in exchange for EC support on the Macedonian issue Greece promised to ratify the Maastricht treaty, participate in sanctions against its traditional ally Serbia, and ratify an EC financial protocol with Turkey. Two other factors undoubtedly influenced the EC to support Greece's position: the desire to demonstrate European unity and the fear that the conservative Greek government of Constantine Mitsotakis might fall if the Republic of Macedonia were recognized under that name.

During this period an incredible variety of alternative names were proposed for the Republic of Macedonia. Officially the Greek government refused to accept any name for the Republic which included the word 'Macedonia' in any form whether 'as a noun or as an adjectival modifier'. Proposed solutions to the dilemma ranged from names like Dardania and Paeonia (used in antiquity to designate regions to the north of ancient Macedonia), to names like South Siavia, the Vardar Republic, the Central Balkan Republic and the Republic of Skopje, all of which were acceptable to Greece. Other compromise solutions, which were not acceptable to Greece, included Northern Macedonia, New Macedonia and the Slavic Republic of Macedonia. At one point Greece even suggested that the Republic adopt two names, one official name for external use (which could not include the word 'Macedonia') and one unofficial name for internal consumption (which could include the word 'Macedonia'). All these solutions, however, were rejected by the Republic itself, which insisted that it would only accept recognition under its constitutional name: the Republic of Macedonia.

In December 1992, the dispute shifted from the capitals of the member states of the European Community to New York City, when the Republic of Macedonia applied for admission to the United Nations. The governments of both Greece and Macedonia were willing to compromise when a plan was proposed according to which the Republic would be admitted to the United Nations under the temporary or provisional name 'the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia', with a permanent name to be chosen later through a process of mediation. Finally, on 7 April 1993, the Security Council voted unanimously to admit 'the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' as a member of the United Nations. At Greece's insistence, however, the Republic is not allowed to fly its flag (the sixteen-ray sun or star Vergina) at United Nations headquarters because this was the emblem of the ancient Macedonians and is therefore a Greek symbol. Admission to the UN will, one would hope, bring an end to the economic chaos and political instability which has characterized this year and a half of limbo during which the Republic of Macedonia has struggled unsuccessfully for international acceptance and recognition.


The dispute between Greeks and Macedonians over which group has the right to identify itself as Macedonians is a dispute between the proponents of two na-

tionalist ideologies over the possession of national identities, histories and cultures, all of which from a nationalist perspective are considered to be the property of the nation. It is a dispute over the ownership of cultural property in which each of two nations has attempted to place a copyright or trademark on what it considers to be its own name, its own national emblems, and its own famous ancestors. Since a nation's culture is as much its possession as its territory, the appropriation of this culture by another nation constitutes from a nationalist perspective a threat to the nation's territorial integrity.

From an anthropological perspective, however, we can see that in this dispute between Greeks and Macedonians two different national identities and cultures are being constructed from the same raw materials, from the same set of powerful national symbols. And while territory must be the mutually exclusive possession of one state or another - a particular village can only be located in Greece or in the Republic of Macedonia - not only can two cultures coexist in one place, but two different peoples with two different nationalities can share the same name. From a perspective in which symbols can have more than one meaning, names more than one referent, there can be two kinds of Macedonians - Macedonians who are Greeks and Macedonians who are not Greeks. Similarly, there can be a Macedonia which is an independent country and a Macedonia which is a region in another country, as maps accompanying recent accounts of the dispute clearly illustrate.

While such a solution may create some confusion, it is preferable to a solution which denies Macedonians who are not Greeks the right to identify themselves as Macedonians. It is preferable to a solution which, in what could be called a kind of symbolic ethnic cleansing, not only denies the existence of a Macedonian nation and a Macedonian minority in Greece, but also tries to destroy the identity, language and culture of this minority. For that solution is an expression of the same kind of ethnic nationalism that in times of economic chaos and political collapse can all too easily lead to a literal, not just a symbolic, form of ethnic cleansing, the kind of ethnic cleansing we are witnessing now, to our horror, in other parts of the former Yugoslavia. 0

1. For a Greek perspective on the Macedonian question, see Kofos (1964 and 1989) and Martis (1983); for a Macedonian perspective see Tashkovski (1976) and articles published in the Macedonian Review. For more balanced perspectives, see Friedman (1975), Jelavich (1983), Palmer and King (1971) and Wilkinson (1951).

2. For statements of this moderate position, see Karakasidou (1993:13-14), Popov and Radin (1989:73), the response by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Macedonia to the Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia sponsored by the European Community, and the comments of Macedonian human rights activists in northern Greece published in the Greek periodical Ena, 11.3.1992.

3. See Brailsford (1971, originally published in 1906), Lunt (1984), MacDermott (1978) and Wilkinson (1951).

4. On the construction of Greek national identity, see Herzfeld (1982 and 1987) and Kitromilides (1989).

5. See also Featherstone (1990) and King (1991).

6. For further information on the situation of the Macedonian minority in northern Greece, see Karakasidou (1993), Popov and Radin (1989), Poulton (1992), and the entry on Greece in recent issues of the United States Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

7. See Pollis (1992) for a discussion of the relationship between Greek nationalist ideology, European standards for the protection of human rights,and the Jehovah's Witnesses, a religious minority whose rights are severely restricted in Greece.

ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY Vol 9 No 4, August 1993

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful