The cultural politics of shopping and the fashioning of "modern" Albanian subjectivities in the Republic of Macedonia
(SUNY at Buffalo)
Paper short abstract:
I explore how shopping allows Albanian women in Macedonia to fashion "modern" subjectivities, reposition themselves toward a larger system of power that casts them as "backward", and articulate understandings of the "West" that disregard ethno-national divisions and center on tastes and dispositions
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I examine the practice of shopping for "Western" material goods and the meanings that this practice has for secular Muslim Albanian women in post-socialist Macedonia. Specifically, I focus on Albanian women from rural backgrounds in the capital city of Skopje who have socio-economic aspirations and acquire the habitus, or "system of dispositions" (Bourdieu 1977), of the "modern" female urbanite: that is, a woman who does not veil, converses in the Macedonian language, and shops for "in" goods at "in" places to fashion a "Western" Self. These female rural migrants in Skopje transgress conventional standards of social behavior whereby Albanian women shop in the "backward", predominantly Albanian-populated part of the city, and Macedonian women shop downtown and in the "modern", predominantly Macedonian-populated urban areas. Unlike marginalized populations elsewhere that can repudiate their stigmatized identities in pursuit of Western modernity, Albanian women in Skopje embrace them. The practice of shopping in the main mall downtown allows them not only to produce and perform in public "modern" subjectivities that are of a particular ethno-nationalist variety, namely Macedonian. In addition, shopping allows them to reposition themselves vis-à-vis a larger system of power in the country, which privileges Macedonians and casts the Albanian collectivity as "backward" and peripheral, and articulate understandings of a "Western" society that is non-hierarchical, disregards ethno-national divisions, and centers around tastes and dispositions.
Marginality, nationalism and citizenship