JGKS Band 5 (2003)



Focus: Minorities in Greece - historical issues and new perspectives

Sevasti Trubeta, Christian Voss

Minorities in the Balkan context

Peter Haslinger
Minorities and Territories - Ways to Conceptualise Identification and Group Cohesion in Greece and in the Balkans
If we think of the territorial implications of the minority question in Southeastern Europe, we are almost automatically tempted to apply terms like conflict or ethnic violence in order to conceptualise the dynamics of development. In the last 15 years, a series of wars and civil wars have produced the image of deeply rooted traditions of conflict over space and minority populations in "the Balkans". For some authors within the world-wide academic community, the tragic end of Yugoslavia after 1991 has even served as a prime reference for questioning the concepts of multiculturalism and identity altogether. This paper therefore tries to elaborate on alternative paths to approach some territorial aspects of the minority question. It will do so by presenting three theoretical models, which might help us to understand the complex dynamics of space and processes of ethnicisation and minorisation in the Balkans, the "imagined territory", the "ethnoscape" and the "triadic nexus". Before doing so, it will address some aspects of continuity and discontinuity in the framework of nation-building and minority policies in Southeastern Europe.

Christian Promitzer
The Body of the Other: "Racial Science" and Ethnic Minorities in the Balkans
As part of physical anthropology, "racial science" was, since the late 19th century, an expression of an anti-humanist revolt against the traditional humanities. In the Balkans "racial science" served as a powerful argument for the "scientific" basis of national states. Ethnic minorities did not fit into the ideal picture of ethnic homogeneous national states and, due to the nationalist origins of "racial science", were either treated as diasporas of the "mother nations" or as foreign groups in the region in which they lived. After the First World War, "racial scientists" would investigate ethnic minorities combining the approaches of demography and eugenics. The role of these "scientists" in the Holocaust and in genocide in general during the Second World War is still a matter of further investigation. After the establishment of Communist regimes in most Balkan states, "racial science" was at least for some decades pushed into the background. In the post-Communist period, however, on can observe an uncritical continuation of such traditions which again are focussed on ethnic minorities.

State Politics

Vemund Aarbakke
Adjusting to the new international framework for minority protection Challenges for the Greek state and its minorities
When we think about the sweeping changes in the political landscape of Europe in the last 15 years or so, Greece is not the first country to come to mind. However, Greece too has been significantly influenced by "the new order," not the least in the field of minority protection, where established practices came under the scrutiny of human rights organisations. Communication with such organisations has often been awkward. Greek sensitivities rooted in its cultural heritage and historical experiences are not always easy to understand for those with a normative approach. The present paper attempts to present some of the central problems related to minorities in Greece and place them within their proper context.

Tasos Kostopoulos
Counting the "Other": official census and classified statistics in Greece (1830-2001)
Population censuses have never been a neutral, "scientific" process separate from the political or administrative imperatives that dictate their completion. Perfectly adjusting itself to the rule, the Greek state can be considered an ideal model of such statistical manipulation. With few exceptions, most of the official census results that have been published since 1907 either grossly misrepresented the situation on the ground or avoided completely to deal with ethno-linguistic diversity. Based mostly on comparison between these official data and the respective archival documentation now available, this paper tries (a) to document the above-mentioned underestimation of minority group populations, and (b) to investigate the main patterns that have to date dominated it. Its final conclusion points to a strange proof of the Ottoman millet system's resilience well into the second half of the 20th century: while the official figures dealing with religious divergence have been more or less accurate, those related to linguistic or ethnic differentiation are completely unreliable. A result of self-negation as well as state policy, this pattern applies in the cases of both the Christian linguistic or ethnic minority groups and the respective sub-groups within the officially recognised Moslem minority of Western Thrace.

Muslims, "New" and "Old" minorities

Dimitris Christopoulos, Konstantinos Tsitselikis
Impasses in the treatment of minorities and homogeneis in Greece
Greece belongs to those Western countries that have left unresolved issues of traditional minorities within their borders. Minority protection is interwoven with the ideological nucleus of the Greek nation; its legal components taking shape from its very establishment as a state. To date, the legal and political patterns of minority protection or/and their disregard continues to be ideologically determined rather than governed by the rule of law. As far as the migrating population that have recently arrived is concerned, the self-regulating mechanisms of the dominant market liberalism have offered solutions and created problems, which have overlapped those related to traditional minorities. The repatriated immigrating "homogeneis" from the Greek communities of Albania and the former USSR (along with the other immigrants) have unquestionably become new minorities in Greece. Managing minority problems in a way that is compatible with a modern view on the rule of law and human rights is a complicated strategy costing both in economic and political terms.

Sevasti Trubeta
"Minorisation" and "Ethnicisation" in Greek Society: Comparative Perspectives on Muslim Immigrants and the Thracian Muslim Minority
This paper is an attempt to reflect on the category of "minority" as well as on ideological processes associated with it, using two case studies from the Greek context: the indigenous Muslim Minority in Greek Thrace and Muslim immigrants throughout the country. Central to approach of both paradigms are the categories of "minorisation" and "ethnicisation", which are considered and explored as dynamic construction processes of social minorities, accompanied by ideological representations. Addressing this problematic, the religious factor will receive particular attention since the two population groups being explored share an Islamic confession and, thus, divergence from the Greek titular nation. Aside from religion, further factors that relate to the ideological justification of minorisation that are not of "ethnic" character but may nevertheless indicate national deviance will be pointed out.

Giorgos Mavrommatis
Constructing Identities for Thracian Muslim Youth: The Role of Education
The educational system for the Muslim minority children in Greek Thrace has, over the past 80 years, been striving to combine values and practices from two actually incompatible models: a pre-national and a national educational system on the one hand and the Greek and Turkish national educational systems on the other. After a brief presentation of the current minority primary education structures, this paper will focus on the historical course that led to the construction of ethnic/national identities among Thracian Muslim youth, mainly as a result of the conflicting actions of Turkish and Greek nationalism. Finally, it makes a few points about the sense of national belonging Thracian minority youth experience it today under the influence of various factors.

Georgia Kretsi
From landholding to landlessness. The relationship between the property and legal status of the Cham Muslim Albanians
Politics of human relocation and expropriation was, in Greece, as in all of interwar Europe, a common pattern. Especially in the case of the Cham Muslim Albanians, property rights were associated - in a complicated and highly politicised manner with the right of residence in Greece. The competition over Muslim property in Chameria escalated gradually after the settlement in Greece of Christian refugees from Asia Minor and the proclamation of the state-wide land reform in the 1920s. I will first present the legal, ideological and demographic context to then analyse competing social actors at the local level. By doing so I will demonstrate that even if there were homogenising attempts by the state towards the minority, the local responses of the group to enforced policies were multiple and differentiated. I will thus conclude that the social dynamic within the minority group (a field that is to date understudied) will explicate power relations and structures in the area.

The Slavic-speakers in Greek Macedonia

Philip Carabott
The Politics of Constructing the Ethnic "Other": The Greek State and Its Slav-speaking Citizens, ca. 1912 - ca. 1949
The article examines Greek perceptions of the country's Slav-speaking citizens from the early 1910s to the end of the civil war in 1949 as the backdrop for discussing the politics of constructing the ethnic "other" in the context of multiple political and diplomatic vicissitudes. It presents an historical overview of the numerous appellations and the criteria employed, which sought to depict a group of people whose fronima (conviction) and loyalty to the state was at best unfathomable, at worst suspect. Correspondingly, and despite its small numerical size, the Slav-speaking element became the object of scholastic monitoring and at times incessant intrusion, as well as the recipient of both harsh and cajoling measures.

Claudia Rossini
Graecophiles and Macedonophiles: Greek Macedonia's Slavic-speakers, the minority identity question and the clash of identities at village level
This paper is based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in 1997-98 in the village of Meliti/Ofcharani and surroundings, Florina District, and deals with the question of how the minority of Slavic-speakers in Greece should today be defined. It looks first at people's own identities and the making of group boundaries at the local level. It goes on to ask what the relationship between villagers' identifications and the macro-level of state and party politics looks like. The local contrast between Graecophiles and Macedonophiles is turning out to be very much one of personal values and worldviews, the former adopting a formalist, the latter an essentialist concept of identity. More than being raised in terms of some given ethnopolitical identities, the conflict is being fought out based on the very concepts of identity and identity rights.

Christian Voss
The situation of the Slavic-speaking minority in Greek Macedonia - ethnic revival, cross-border cohesion, or language death?
The Slavic dialects of Aegean Macedonia with about 200 000 potential speakers are, since the integration into the Greek state in 1912/13, without any Slavic umbrella language). By including Aegean Macedonia into the European typology of bilingual border regions, this paper tries to clear up the relationship between linguistic and ethnic identity of a minority, which since the 19th century has had the option between three Slavic language nationalisms, i.e. the Bulgarian, the Serb and the Macedonian. The "ethnic revival" in the Florina region has to be explained as a phenomenon of cross-border cohesion and reinforced global ethnic networks, whereas the Slavic dialects in Central and Eastern Aegean Macedonia are acutely threatened by language death.

Riki van Boeschoten
"Unity and Brotherhood"? Macedonian political refugees in Eastern Europe
In this paper I examine the relationship between Greek and Macedonian political refugees who settled in Eastern Europe after the end of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949). Most Macedonian political refugees had joined or supported the left-wing guerrilla movement, hoping they would be rewarded with equal rights. For the host country they belonged to the general group of Greek political refugees, but within the refugee community they formed a separate group with special cultural rights. The relations between the two groups were regulated and controlled by the apparatus of the Greek Communist Party and determined by the motto "Unity and Brotherhood", which in turn was inspired by the homogenising project of the communist "parent-states". I explore the ways in which "Unity and Brotherhood" operated, the conflicts it generated, especially in the context of the Tito-Stalin split, and the ways in which it was experienced and interpreted by the refugee community. I conclude that, in spite of the conflicts, on the whole, relations between Greek and Macedonian political refugees were quite harmonious until the 1980s, when the revitalisation of the Macedonian Issue and the formation of a Macedonian diasporic public sphere "renationalised" the two groups.

The case of the Vlachs

Thede Kahl
Aromanians in Greece. Minority or Vlach-speaking Greeks?
At the latest since the existence of the so-called "Aromanian question" are the Aromanians split into different factions concerning their identity, i.e. those who consider themselves as being Romanian, those who consider themselves as being Greek and those who consider themselves as being "purely" Aromanian. Due to increasing contacts to the Greek language as an important commercial language and by the influence of Greek culture, a growing number of Aromanians identify themselves as Greek. While activities for a specifically Aromanian identity and language can be observed mainly in the Aromanian diaspora, Aromanians in Greece refuse the classification as a minority and do not use their language in schools and the media. In Greece the national identification of most Aromanians takes place through modern Hellenism. But to belong to the Hellenes does not automatically mean being Greek. The article discusses the different meanings of the pairs of terms "Vlach/Aromanian", "Minority/Vlach-speaking Greek", "Hellene/Greek". It tries to describe the aspects which hindered the evolution of an Aromanian nationhood and analyses the contemporary situation of a minority that behaves like a majority.