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Waiting for Macedonia

Waiting for Macedonia: Identity in a Changing World

Ilká Thiessen
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    Waiting for Macedonia
    Book Description:

    "Thiessen crafts a fine ethnography of a changing society after the fall of socialism and independent nationhood." - Anastasia Karakasidou, Wellesley College

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0321-9
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 11-22)

    Western media continue to portray Eastern Europe as a troubled place, rife with ancient hatreds, tribal affiliations, and methods of mass terror supposedly abandoned in the modern World. The West, long eager for a peek behind the Iron Curtain, welcomed Eastern Europe into the “free world” in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. High expectations accompanied this welcome: it was obvious that the Cold War finally had ended and that, from now on, the world could turn into a better place.

    I am intrigued by the continuous ignorance of the so-called free world—the capitalist world, the world...

  6. Chapter One Macedonian Context
    (pp. 23-46)

    Who can be called Macedonian? Is there a Macedonian past and history? Is there a Macedonian identity that the people of today’s Republic of Macedonia can claim as theirs?Who Are the Macedonians?(Poulton 1995) andThe Macedonian Conflict(Danforth 1995) are intriguing book titles that point toward the dilemma within the Republic of Macedonia today. There is no doubt that Macedonia did, and does today, exist in a geographical and historical sense, although, with the fall of Yugoslavia, Macedonia’s geography and history have been called into question. This situation, of suddenly being unable to describe or know who you...

  7. Chapter Two Mapping Urban Identity
    (pp. 47-64)

    As the disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia took place, the overarching “Yugoslavian” identity, which had encompassed the diversity within the state, ceased to exist for most people. People were left initially to their own devices in identifying themselves as non-Yugoslavian. Over time, a move from this negative identity of non-Yugoslavian began, and a new identity emerged in the tension-filled vacuum left by the collapse of Yugoslavia. This new identity is derived from Orthodox Christianity and a land-owning peasant past. However, even though the old socialist state has ceased to exist, the Republic of Macedonia was, during my research, still governed by...

  8. Chapter Three The Disintegration of Yugoslavia: Gender—Experienced by Three Generations
    (pp. 65-76)

    Concurrent with my argument so far, the lack of an analysis of gender relations in Macedonia makes an assessment of the impact of Western images of these relations on the actual conflict between Slavic Macedonians and Albanians impossible. The constructs of the backward Albanian and the modern European are gendered and draw heavily from images of gender relations. The Balkans are described as the place where wives still have to wash the feet of their husbands, and Europe is seen as the place where women become innovative engineers.

    One should not overlook Marxist theory, which played with the possibility of...

  9. Chapter Four Getting Along
    (pp. 77-104)

    During the times that tore Yugoslavia apart and swept the world with images of atrocities and stories of friends and neighbours killing each other, the idea of “getting along” seemed aeons away from everyday reality. Macedonia, fortunately, has been able to stay out of the civil war in Yugoslavia and also to prevent civil war within its own borders, so far. Understanding what it means to live in these times of uncertainty and change requires consideration of how daily life proceeds in Skopje while the former Yugoslavia is drowning.

    On the surface, life in Skopje seems the same as usual,...

  10. Chapter Five Shopping for the “New” Person
    (pp. 105-132)

    Reflecting on the last fifteen years in Europe, people speak about how times have changed. Within this reflection there is more than meets the eye. Not only times have changed, but also time itself. Having waited for hours in line to buy small items in a “superstore” in Skopje in the eighties, I can comment on the way time has changed in the city. In the late nineties, I was actually able to go swiftly into a store and leave with my purchase in no time at all, at least in some stores, but I will get to that. There...

  11. Chapter Six Silhouette: The Sculpted Body
    (pp. 133-164)

    In trying to understand my friends’ motivation to carry on during the difficult adjustment to a new country and to new political and economic circumstances, I noted one central theme: the symbolic meaning attached to their bodies. It was not politics but the design of their bodies that moved them strongly. I have come to believe that their efforts to change their bodies were directly linked to the changes their country was undergoing. Their position in society differs from the position their grandmothers and mothers held, and it differs also from the expectations they had for themselves when Macedonia was...

  12. Chapter Seven Conclusion
    (pp. 165-172)

    My emphasis on this group of urban informants, namely, young female engineers in Skopje, is a result partially of my intention of taking women’s points of view during a time of great change. Rather than examining things usually considered, that is, men and their politics or the rural perspective (the countryside being perceived often as most vulnerable to change), I chose to consider the lives of young, professional, and urban women. During the war in Bosnia and the conflict between Croatia and Serbia, the media focused on how the politics of change were imposed on and exercised in the countryside....

  13. Bibliography and Recommended Reading
    (pp. 173-198)
  14. Index
    (pp. 199-206)