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Contested Borders

Territorialization, National Identity and «Imagined Geographies» in Albania

by Ilir Kalemaj (Author)
Monographs XVIII, 267 Pages
Series: Nationalisms across the Globe, Volume 15

Summary

This book argues that power struggles between internal and diasporic elites play a central role in the development of political agendas that have the potential to shift national borders. The author uses Albania as the primary case study, examining how the understanding of the Albanian nation has taken on varying geographical borders over time and why different Albanian communities have often had differing perceptions of the borders of the nation.
On the basis of this case study, the author constructs a theoretical model that captures the dynamic of domestic versus international constraints on elite choices and analyses how this leads to the (re)construction of borders. The book explores the way in which competing elites manipulate national symbols to create the necessary environment for personal political gain, using both expansionist and contractionist versions of «virtual» borders that may or may not be congruent with internationally recognized borders.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Maps
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Delineating the Playing Field: Virtual Borders and Imagined Geographies
  • 1.1 Focus of the Study
  • 1.2 The Puzzle of Shifting Borders in the National Imagination
  • 1.3 Elite Clashes and International Constraints in Determining Border Shifts
  • 1.4 Importance of the Study
  • 1.5 Tracking Causes and Variables
  • 1.6 Plan of the Book
  • Chapter 2: Boundary Mapping and Territorialization of Identity
  • 2.1 Existing Theories of Nationalism and How They Explain Borders
  • 2.2 A Theoretical Framework of Virtual Border Shifts
  • 2.3 Delineating Borders in Nationalist Discourse and a Nation’s Mental Mapping
  • 2.4 The Two Overlapping Maps of the Albanian Nation
  • 2.4.1 External Constraints During the Mapping of Virtual Borders
  • 2.4.2 Domestic Political Competition and (Re)drawing of the National Map
  • Chapter 3: From Nation-Building to State Formation: How Virtual Mapping Intersected with Recognized Borders in the Albanian Imagination
  • 3.1 Albanian Identity Construction and How It Mapped onto Territory Pre-1880
  • 3.2 The Map Resulting from Albanian Elite Struggles During the Years 1878–1899 and 1911–1912: Hypotheses and Predictions
  • 3.3 The Mapping of Albanian Boundaries from the League of Prizren to Independence
  • 3.4 Great Power Geopolitics and Its Effect on Shaping the Newly Created Albania’s Borders: Shifts from 1912 to 1917
  • 3.5 Elite Struggles, Ethnic Underbidding and Map Contraction from 1912 to 1917
  • 3.6 National Borders as Perceived by the Masses on Both Sides of the Border from 1878 to the First World War
  • 3.7 Elite Struggles, Ethnic Underbidding and Map Contraction from 1912 to the First World War Among the Albanian Elite
  • Chapter 4: The Interwar Period and the Shifting of Virtual Borders at Elite and Mass Level in Albania and Abroad: From Contractionary to Expansionary and Vice-Versa
  • 4.1 External Constraints on the Albanians in the Interwar Years and the Effects on Map Weaving
  • 4.2 Elite Struggles and the Outcome for the Albanian Map in the Interwar Period
  • 4.3 Imagined National Borders: “Bottom-Up” Changes in Map Perception in the Interwar Period
  • 4.4 The Imagined Nation Among the Ethnic Kin: The Expansionary Map in Kosovo in the Interwar Period
  • 4.5 Conclusion
  • Chapter 5: From “Greater Albania” During the Second World War to Contractionary Borders in the Communist Era
  • 5.1 Direct International Intervention During the Second World War and the Redrawing of the Map to Create “Greater Albania”
  • 5.2 Elite Struggles and the Irredentist Outcome
  • 5.3 Principal Map Shifts During the Early Communist Period in Albania and Their Impact on Visualizing the Nation’s Borders
  • 5.4 Consolidation of National Communism in Albania and Its Effects on the Imagined Map and the Visualization of Borders
  • 5.5 Perception of Borders Among Ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia During the Communist Era
  • 5.5.1 Vernacular Education and Nationalizing Textbooks Causing Shifts in Perception of Virtual Borders Among Ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia
  • 5.6 Mass Media in Albania and Its Role in (Re)shaping Mental Boundaries on Both Sides of the State Border During the Communist Era
  • 5.7 Ideologizing History to Create a Perennial Map: Instrumental Use of a National Hero in Textbooks and How It Has Impacted Virtual Border Shifts
  • Chapter 6: Reimagining Territorial Landscape and Mental Borders in the Post-Communist and Democratic Transition Era
  • Introduction
  • 6.1 Competing Elite Projects on National Boundaries in Albania During Democratic Transition
  • 6.2 External Constraints on Albanian Transition and the Resulting National Map
  • 6.3 Map-Shaping Political Projects Among the Albanians of Kosovo and Macedonia
  • 6.3.1 The Albanians of Kosovo and Their Shifting Stance Toward Albania in 1990s: A View From Below
  • 6.4 Alternative Map Configuration and Virtual Borders Seen From Below: Kosovo and Other Albanian-Speaking Regions in Albania’s Textbooks During the 1990s
  • 6.5 Mass Media and Its Role in (Re)shaping Mental Boundaries on Both Sides of the State Border in the Post-Communist Period
  • 6.5.1 Recent Debate on the Shaping of Territorial Identity in Albania, Kosovo and Amongst the Albanian Community in Macedonia
  • 6.6 Virtual Borders as Imagined by the Masses on Both Sides of the State Border in the Post-Communist Period
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Books
  • Journal Articles
  • Newspapers/Media Sources
  • Archives
  • Public Lectures
  • Interviews
  • Index
  • Series Index

| xi →

List of Tables

1. Summary of competing theories and how they inform virtual borders in the Albanian case.

2. Predictions for border outcomes from proclamation of sovereignty in 1912 to the First World War.

3. Predictions for border outcomes among the Albanian kin from proclamation of sovereignty in 1912 to the First World War.

4. Predictions for border outcomes in the interwar period.

5. Predictions for border outcomes among the Albanian kin in the interwar period.

6. Predictions for border outcomes during the Second World War and the communist period.

7. Predictions for border outcomes among the Albanian kin during the Second World War and the communist period.

8. Predictions for border outcomes in the post-communist period.

9. Predictions for border outcomes in the post-communist period among the Albanian kin in the former Yugoslavia.

| xiii →

List of Maps

1. Map of Albania and its borders as officially recognized in 1913.

2. Map showing the maximum extent of Albanian territorial ambitions – “Greater Albania”.

3. 1891 map of Albanian-dominated vilayets

4. 1842 map by Count Fedor Karaczay, a colonel in the Austrian Service.

5. Map of 1878 showing Eastern Europe as divided by the Treaty of Berlin.

6. Map of 1882. The map is in English but many of the place names are in Albanian, Greek and Slav, thus indicating the demarcation of the territory.

7. The Albanian vilayets.

8. Map of the proposed Albanian state by the provisional government of Albania, 1912–1914.

9. Division of Albania, 1914–1916.

10. The Italian Protectorate of Albania established by Italy in August 1941.

11. A map of present-day Kosovo with different overlapping boundaries.

| xv →

Acknowledgements

First of all I want to express my gratitude to Erin Jenne. Having her as my mentor and friend in this endeavor has been a great honor. Her openness, constructive criticism and continuous support have made this journey tremendously rewarding.

I also benefited a great deal from Matteo Fumagalli’s comments and feedback of various drafts of my PhD dissertation. I have learned a lot from exchanges with Sherrill Stroschein, Irina Papkova, Alex Astrov and others, as well as continuous support from the publishing house staff where special thanks go to Christabel Scaife. I also thank Emily Hill, Chelsi West and Adam Ehrlich for their help in copyediting different chapters of the final manuscript and Aleksander Brati for his technical assistance. I am also indebted to Kosta Giakoumis for giving me the chance to join the University of New York Tirana faculty team seven years ago and to my colleagues at the University who provide an excellent and inspiring academic community.

My family has been an enormous and constant support in this endeavor. I thank my parents and brother for their love and for believing in me, while apologizing for all the time that I have not been able to spend with them.

| xvii →

Preface

[…] and it strikes her, as she walks, that borders, like hatred, are exaggerated precisely because otherwise they would cease to exist altogether.

— COLUM MCCANN, Zoli

This book first started as an academic project for completion of my doctoral dissertation at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. My initial interest was in the question of irredentism and my first book, Sources of Irredentism in Foreign Policy: Understanding Kin Policies in the Aftermath of Communism in Serbia and Albania, sought to provide an answer as to why Serbia became increasingly irredentist in the aftermath of communism, while Albania refrained from following suit. The novelty was in focusing on the role of intermediate societal ideas, interests and institutions in fomenting irredentist policies. Afterwards, I became increasingly interested in the difference between real and virtual borders and how competing political projects can lead to different perceptions of the national map. At the same time, the political elite is usually constrained by external actors and shifting geopolitics, which are especially important factors in determining domestic developments in small countries and weak states.

The primary research question that this book addresses is: Why do national borders change and why are they perceived differently inside versus outside of the state? What motivates such changes? What are the primary actors and factors that lead groups to form a certain mapping perception and when do virtual shifts occur? This broad and general question is broken down into two empirical and specific questions: (1) how the understanding of the Albanian nation takes on different geographical borders over time, with some periods associated with the Albanian nation mapping onto Albania’s state borders and other periods understanding the Albanian nation as expanding on the broader concept of “Greater Albania”, and ← xvii | xviii → (2) why different Albanian communities, in Albania in the one hand and Macedonia and Kosovo on the other, have often imagined the borders of the Albanian nation differently at the same point in time.

The book builds on the argument that power struggles between “internal” and “external” (diasporic) elites play the primary role in building political agendas that create national borders. I construct here a theoretical model that captures the dynamics of domestic versus international constraints on elite choices and how these lead to (re)construction of borders. It builds on the logic that the elites engineer and manipulate national symbols to create the necessary environment for personal political gain, which is mainly the getting and retaining of political power. In other words, these competing elites use expansionist versus contractionist versions of “virtual” borders that may or may not be congruent with internationally recognized ones. In embracing one or the other map project, these elites, through cost-benefit calculations, are usually constrained by external pressures, which conditionalize domestic discourse and place limits on their actions and on how these influence map weaving.

Although the primary case is the Albanian case, studied comparatively in both its spatial and temporal dimensions by investigating both parallels and differences in mass and elite discourse and actions, the book also refers to empirical evidence from a multitude of other cases. Thus, the findings have general applications both analytically and at policy level, because concurrent maps exist across states and societies. In addition, elite clashes are often largely dependent on geopolitical limits, while policy relevance extends to include the degree and scale of map materialization. Shrewd elites are often keen to instrumentalize ethnic, national and cultural bonds or divides in order to maximize their goal of obtaining or retaining power when windows of opportunity open up. Such actions may provoke geopolitical changes and affect inter-state border relations.

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CHAPTER 1

Delineating the Playing Field: Virtual Borders and Imagined Geographies

Details

Pages
XVIII, 267
ISBN (PDF)
9783035306583
ISBN (ePUB)
9783035398052
ISBN (MOBI)
9783035398045
ISBN (Softcover)
9783034317849
Language
English
Publication date
2014 (November)
Published
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2014. XVIII, 267 pp., 9 tables, 11 maps

Biographical notes

Ilir Kalemaj (Author)

Ilir Kalemaj is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of New York Tirana. He is the author of Sources of Irredentism in Foreign Policy: Understanding Kin Policies in the Aftermath of Communism in Serbia and Albania (2009) and has published journal articles and book chapters on ethnic conflict, nationalism, identity politics, democratization and European integration. In addition to his academic research, he has published short stories and poetry and is a frequent contributor to the Albanian press.

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