DescriptionKeynote lecture. Abstract: Epirus once had a reputation for being a wild place, and not only a ‘natural wilderness’ as it is advertised as being today. Way up in the northern mountainous areas of south-eastern Europe, it was difficult to get to; the weather was more challenging than in the southern shores of the Aegean; it was deeply forested and had steep, jagged mountains dividing the valleys. There were wolves and wolf-like sheepdogs, and the peoples from that region had a reputation for being tough, hardened souls who could survive the harsh winters, and the stony, thin soils which provided little sources for making a living. Some of those people would move seasonally with their sheep and goats, up the mountains in the summer and down into the valleys in the winters; others would travel long distances to make money in cities as labourers and return to Epirus every so often; and some would travel far and wide to sell goods and services. Both during the Ottoman period and the national and state periods after it, Epirus was depicted, by those who considered themselves to be central, as being a remote place: the kind of place where, in mythology, dragons might live. Nevertheless, this region was affected, as much as anywhere else, by nationalist understandings of the relation between people and territory that developed in the 20th century. It was also dramatically affected by the division of Europe between capitalist and communist regions during the period of the Cold War, as the Greek-Albanian border was strongly closed, preventing people from using those well-worn routes across the landscape. Yet, on top of the nationalist way of dividing territory, and the political economy division which crosscut the Epirot landscape, there was also how Epirots themselves understood their relations with, and separations from, the region, which had as much to do with those now-closed routes as it did with their roots (pace James Clifford). This paper will provide an account of the multiple ways that the location of Epirots was classified and calibrated in this multiply-bordered and somewhat remote place. The aim is to outline how border dynamics in the Balkan region reflects both a co-existence and layering of diverse logics of location, ones that the people of Epirus became very adept at negotiating and managing in their everyday lives.
|Period||14 Oct 2019|
|Event title||Borders and Spaces in South East Europe: Historical and Contemporary Imaginations and Practices of B / ordering|
|Degree of Recognition||International|
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Project: Research project