Accepted paper:

Culture across cultures: social boundaries and mutuality in a Western Macedonian village


Marcin Lubaś (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on the fieldwork in a western Macedonia, I will show how the logic of the ethnic compartmentalization resulting from the changes in the macedonian legislation, has been reflected on the local level in a multi-religious community.

Paper long abstract:

One of the preconditions for the Republic of Macedonia accession to the European Union is the significant progress of the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The Accord, signed by the leaders of Macedonian and Albanian parties in the town of Ohrid in August 2001, put an end to the six-month military conflict between the Albanian paramilitary forces and the Macedonian government's army. The main objective of the Framework Agreement has been an equitable representation of the two dominant ethnic communities living in Macedonia (mainly Macedonian Albanians and Macedonians) in the public institutions of the state through provisions concerning more proportional power sharing and political decentralization in the country. From the outset the Accord itself, as well as its implementation, have been criticized for the defacto strengthening political segmentation of Macedonia along the ethnic and the religious lines. Paradoxically enough, the Framework Agreement, which is supposed to convey a spirit of common European values, seems to diffuse an idea of cultural separateness. Drawing on my fieldwork research in a western Macedonian village, I will show how the practical logic of ethnic compartmentalization which has resulted from the specific implementation of the Framework Agreement has been reflected on the local level in a mixed Muslim and Christian orthodox local community. More specifically, I will focus on actions undertaken by some local leaders to recast the religious boundary in a village as an ethnic boundary. Looking at my fieldwork materials through the prism of the distributive conception of culture, I will analyze variation in the local responses to ethnification of religious difference. Rejecting the dogma of the necessary overlap between religion, ethnicity, and culture, I will examine various ways of religious boundary making and maintainance, and also the cross - boundary bonds of mutuality which the social boundaries actually entail.

panel W055
Critical perspectives on the persistence of 'culture talk' in the making of Europe