Contestations Over Macedonian Identity, 1870-1912

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Anastasovski, Nick (2005) Contestations Over Macedonian Identity, 1870-1912. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


AS A CONTESTED space Macedonia in the late nineteenth century suffered political, religious and paramilitary incursions made upon the population by the neighbouring nascent states and the disappearing Ottoman empire. Territorial claims were rationalised by ethnographic maps and statistical population data. Interested commentators viewed Macedonia in accordance with government policy and presented their studies as academic and scientific, even though these studies were clearly political in nature. The European Powers maintained their own pretence and acted as patrons of the small Balkan States. Although churches, schools and paramilitary bands were the primary instruments of the Greek, Bulgarian and Serb states, expansion into Macedonia was ultimately achieved by a full military mobilisation when the armies of Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia marched into Macedonia in October 1912 and drove out the Ottoman Turks. The territorial division of Macedonia and claims upon the Macedonians have continued to be a matter of contention between the Balkan States into contemporary times. As the new nation of Macedonia began its independent existence in 1991, its citizens sought to understand this history. For lengthy periods Macedonia was colonised by more powerful neighbours, especially the Turks in the Ottoman period to 1912. The very word 'Macedonia' is a contested category, much like any other post-colonial concept. As each of its neighbours has sought to colonise Macedonia, Macedonian history has become overburdened with the representations of these others. There is no essential 'Macedonia' hidden beneath these foreign representations, but there is nonetheless a specific and distinctive history comprised of the everyday life of people in the territory now known as Macedonia. This thesis seeks to recover that everyday life through an examination of the sources relating to a defining period in Macedonian history, the period from 1870 to 1912 - when Macedonia found herself in a disintegrating Ottoman Empire and the 10 territorial ambitions of neighbouring Balkan States (Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia) saw them engage in a fierce competition for the hearts and minds of the Macedonian Christians. This thesis interrogates these sources by using the techniques and strategies of post-colonial scholars. This interrogation reveals, just as surely as the post-colonialists have reinterpreted Western views of Asia and Africa, that views of Macedonia by Greeks, Turks, Bulgarians, Serbs and others are not 'innocent' or 'disinterested'. This thesis argues that, no matter how sophisticated their particular methodology or analysis, these foreign scholars - demographers, historians, anthropologists - brought to their studies of Macedonia late in the nineteenth century an imperial agenda, the ramifications of which continue to influence politics in the region to the present time.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts-General
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Macedonian identity; nineteenth century; Ottoman empire; territorial claims
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