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The Risk of War

The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia

Vasiliki P. Neofotistos
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The Risk of War
    Book Description:

    The Risk of War focuses on practices and performances of everyday life across ethnonational borders during the six-month armed conflict in 2001 between Macedonian government forces and the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA)-a conflict initiated by the NLA with the proclaimed purpose of securing greater rights for the Albanian community in Macedonia and terminated by the internationally brokered Ohrid Framework Agreement. Anthropologist Vasiliki P. Neofotistos provides an ethnographic account of the ways middle- and working-class Albanian and Macedonian noncombatants in Macedonia's capital city, Skopje, went about their daily lives during the conflict, when fear and uncertainty regarding their existence and the viability of the state were intense and widespread. Neofotistos finds that, rather than passively observing the international community's efforts to manage the political crisis, members of the Macedonian and Albanian communities responded with resilience and wit to disruptive and threatening changes in social structure, intensely negotiated relationships of power, and promoted indeterminacy on the level of the everyday as a sense of impending war enfolded the capital. More broadly, The Risk of War helps us better understand how postindependence Macedonia has managed to escape civil bloodshed despite high political volatility, acute ethno-nationalist rivalries, and unrelenting external pressures exerted by neighboring countries.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0656-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    On 16 February 2001, members of a journalistic team working for the Macedonian TV station A1 claimed that they had been kidnapped by armed Albanian men, some in black uniforms, for a few hours. By all accounts this event took place in the Albanian-populated village of Tanuševci in northern Macedonia, just across the border from UN-administered Kosovo (see Figure 1).¹ The crew had traveled to Tanuševci to check the veracity of information regarding the alleged existence of a Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA (in Albanian, Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës, UÇK) training camp in the village and film a report.² (The...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Critical Events
    (pp. 15-36)

    The 2001 armed conflict did not mark the first time that post-independence Macedonia and its people were confronted with high political instability, deriving from Macedonian and Albanian political struggles over the distribution of power in Macedonian society. During the 1990s, a series of critical events (in Veena Das’s use of the term; see 1995: 6), which disrupted everyday life and brought about new modes of sociopolitical action, took place. In what follows, I identify these key events and discuss each one of them as politically organized attempts to (re)define the categories and meanings of membership in post-1991 Macedonia: the 1991...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Eruption of the 2001 Conflict
    (pp. 37-46)

    A few weeks prior to the eruption of the NLA insurgency in the village of Tanuševci, on 22 January 2001, one Macedonian policeman was killed and three others were wounded in an attack on the police station in the predominantly Albanian-populated village of Tearce, near the border with the UN-administered province of Kosovo in southern Serbia. The NLA claimed responsibility for the attack in a communiqué, entitled “Communiqué no 4,” sent 23 January by telefax from a cell-phone number in Germany to Dnevnik, one of the most widely read Macedonian-language newspapers in Macedonia.¹ The communiqué, published in Albanian on the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Living in a Confusing World
    (pp. 47-64)

    Against a background of escalating violence in the northwest of the country, the Democratic Party of Albanians, the junior partner in the Macedonian government coalition, organized on 13 March a peace rally in Skopje. I attended the rally together with thousands of other people, many of whom were Albanians and held placards reading pravda i mir (“justice and peace” in Macedonian) and double-sided signs with the word paqe (“peace” in Albanian) on one side and the two-headed black eagle, which is Albania’s national emblem and also the emblem of the KLA and the NLA, on the other.¹

    Many Macedonians with...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Performing Civility
    (pp. 65-83)

    On the Wednesday before Orthodox Easter in April 2001, my Albanian landlady Fatmira, a schoolteacher in her mid-fifties who originated from a long-established family in Skopje, called and invited me to join her and her Macedonian friend Vesna for afternoon tea in her house in Čair. The two women had known each other since the late 1960s, when Vesna, a housewife, and her husband Igor, a factory administrator, had rented the first floor in the house of Bajram, Fatmira’s husband. While living under the same roof for nearly a decade, Vesna and Fatmira had come to share the joys and...

  8. CHAPTER 5 When the Going Gets Tough
    (pp. 84-100)

    As fighting spread steadily in northwestern areas of the country, a strong sense of vulnerability and insecurity increasingly permeated everyday life in Skopje. To navigate through their environment, Macedonian men and women during interpersonal interactions across ethnonational lines tended to engage in efforts to create and sustain a stable and predictable sociopolitical order where they and members of the Albanian collectivity had distinct roles to play and definitive positions to occupy. In this chapter, I analyze these efforts and their political implications. My aim is to show the impossibilities of attaching definitive meaning to social reality, as construed by members...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Claiming Respect
    (pp. 101-117)

    In this chapter, I examine how in the course of the armed conflict many of my Albanian research participants engaged in performances of respectable and “modern” selfhood during encounters with Macedonian state employees in positions of authority and during outings in downtown Skopje respectively. Drawing on the work of Jean and John Comaroff (1993), I treat these performances as rituals, that is to say as “a site and a means of experimental practice, of subversive poetics, of creative tension and transformative action” (xxix), “experimental technology intended to affect the flow of power in the [social] universe” (xxx). What I find...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 118-128)

    Despite a string of tit-for-tat killings in August that seriously threatened to derail international mediation efforts, the armed conflict between the Macedonian armed forces and the Albanian NLA came to an official end with the signing of the Framework Agreement in the Macedonian town of Ohrid on 13 August 2001.¹ The Agreement, brokered by the international community, was signed by late president of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski and political leaders of the four main government and opposition Macedonian and Albanian parties—namely, Ljupčo Georgievski (VMRODPMNE), Branko Crvenkovski (SDSM), Arben Xhaferi (DPA/PDSH), and Imer Imeri (PDP/PPD). It served as...

  11. APPENDIX: Ohrid Framework Agreement and the 2001 Constitutional Amendments
    (pp. 129-152)
  12. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 153-156)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 157-168)
    (pp. 169-172)
    (pp. 173-192)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 193-202)
    (pp. 203-205)