Title "Social Cleavages and National ‘Awakening’ in Ottoman Macedonia"
Author Gounaris, Basil
Publisher East European Quarterly no. 4, pp. 409-426
Annotation Written by one of the prominent contemporary Greek specialists in the history of the Macedonian ‘questions’, the article tries to reframe the study of ‘ethnic’ mobilizations in the turn-of-the-century Ottoman Macedonia. Gounaris challenges a part of the existing literature with his assertion that the different Christian camps in the region ‘were not indeed ethnic groups’ and that one may speak rather of the existence of ‘parties with national affiliations’. He argues that the Christian (mostly Slav-speaking) community divisions into ‘Greeks’, ‘Bulgarians’, ‘Serbs’ and ‘Romanians’ were based on a wide variety of pre-existing social cleavages, on local economic ambitions, on quite pragmatic personal motivations and antipathies. The latter were wearing the mantle of national ideologies only as a result of foreign ‘propagandas’ diffused by nationalistic entrepreneurs coming from Athens, Sofia etc. Although a good counterweight to some Balkan national narratives, Gounaris’ interpretation tends to neglect the active involvement of local Christians in different national agendas and overemphasizes their role of ‘victims’ of ‘voracious neighbors’. Thus, his assertion that ‘bandit attacks against opponent villages were most often initiated by non-Macedonian residents’ does not hold true, for instance, for the ‘Bulgarian’ bands that consisted almost exclusively of local people. It is likewise doubtful that one may explain the emergence of a Bulgarian ‘élite’ as a result of socio-economic cleavage between rich and poor: members of the rich ‘Greek’ bourgeoisie switched to Bulgarian nationalism etc.
Author of Annotation Tchavdar Marinov
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