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Macedonia & Its Questions

Origins, Margins, Ruptures & Continuity


Edited By Victor A Friedman, Goran Janev and George Vlahov

Macedonia and its Questions: Origins, Margins, Ruptures and Continuity is a multi-disciplinary book of 11 chapters, containing contributions that span the fields of linguistics, political science, sociology, history and law. The title of the book purposefully references but simultaneously interrogates and challenges the idea that certain nation-states and certain ethnicities can in some way constitute a "question" while others do not. The "Macedonian Question" generally has the status of a problem that involves questioning the very existence of Macedonians and one of the aims of this volume is to reframe the nature of the discussion.

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5. Jewels, Bats, and Shamans: Asian Seeds on the Soil of Greek Modernity

5.Jewels, Bats, and Shamans: Asian Seeds on the Soil of Greek Modernity


Akis Gavriilidis

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

In a 1993 interview, the Greek scholar and diplomat Evànghelos Kofòs, speaking about the “appropriation of the Greek name ‘Macedonia’ by the Slavs”, made the following comparison:

It is as if a robber came into my house and stole my most precious jewels – my history, my culture, my identity (Kofos 1993).

The motif of the theft used here obviously implies a claim of legitimate possession: in a phrase consisting in only 22 words, five of them are the first person singular possessive pronoun.

This is no surprise: it is the well-known position of the Greek government, and large sections of present-day Greek society, that ancient Greek history and culture, including Macedonia, constitutes “their property”. But a remarkable point here is that not all of these possessions are the same. Kofos’s metaphor uses two distinct models of possession: one fixed, sedentary, and one moveable. The pronoun is used in relation to “house”, on the one hand, and to “jewels” which are contained in it but, for this very reason, are not co-substantial to it. If history, culture, and identity are in the house, then they are not the house itself. Their presence there is always precarious and detachable.

Attributing a precarious and mobile nature to Greek culture is a rather paradoxical gesture, that undermines the image of millenary stability and continuity that the speaker presumably wanted to...

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