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Contested Borders

Territorialization, National Identity and «Imagined Geographies» in Albania


Ilir Kalemaj

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.
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Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche National-bibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

Kalemaj, Ilir.  Contested borders : territorialization, national identity and "imagined geographies" in Albania / Ilir Kalemaj.      pages cm. -- (Nationalisms across the globe ; 15)  Includes bibliographical references and index.  ISBN 978-3-0343-1784-9 (alk. paper) 1. Albania--Historical geography. 2. Territory, National--Albania. 3. Albania--Boundaries. 4. Albanians--Ethnic identity. 5. Elite (Social sciences)--Albania. 6. National characteristics, Albanian. I. Title.  DR914.K35 2014  911’.4965--dc23


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