The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia

The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia

The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia

The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia

Synopsis

The Risk of War focuses on practices and performances of everyday life across ethnonational borders during the six-month armed conflict in 2001 between Macedonian government forces and the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA)--a conflict initiated by the NLA with the proclaimed purpose of securing greater rights for the Albanian community in Macedonia and terminated by the internationally brokered Ohrid Framework Agreement. Anthropologist Vasiliki P. Neofotistos provides an ethnographic account of the ways middle- and working-class Albanian and Macedonian noncombatants in Macedonia's capital city, Skopje, went about their daily lives during the conflict, when fear and uncertainty regarding their existence and the viability of the state were intense and widespread.

Neofotistos finds that, rather than passively observing the international community's efforts to manage the political crisis, members of the Macedonian and Albanian communities responded with resilience and wit to disruptive and threatening changes in social structure, intensely negotiated relationships of power, and promoted indeterminacy on the level of the everyday as a sense of impending war enfolded the capital. More broadly, The Risk of War helps us better understand how postindependence Macedonia has managed to escape civil bloodshed despite high political volatility, acute ethno-nationalist rivalries, and unrelenting external pressures exerted by neighboring countries.

Excerpt

On 16 February 2001, members of a journalistic team working for the Macedonian TV station A1 claimed that they had been kidnapped by armed Albanian men, some in black uniforms, for a few hours. By all accounts this event took place in the Albanian-populated village of Tanuševci in northern Macedonia, just across the border from UN-administered Kosovo (see Figure 1). The crew had traveled to Tanuševci to check the veracity of information regarding the alleged existence of a Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA (in Albanian, Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës, UÇK) training camp in the village and film a report. (The KLA, an Albanian insurgent group that fought against Serbian forces in the adjoining Kosovo in the 1990s with a view to Kosovo’s independence, was officially disbanded under NATO supervision in June 1999.) The armed men allegedly confiscated the crew’s equipment and cell phones, and told the journalists the village had been “liberated” by the hitherto totally unknown, except perhaps to NATO and Macedonian intelligence, Albanian National Liberation Army, or NLA (in Albanian, Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare, UÇK) and that Macedonians were not welcome there, indicating that the village was no longer under the jurisdiction of the Macedonian state. Media sources proclaimed that after the journalists were released, a Macedonian Border Patrol unit entered the village and clashed with the armed group. After an approximately hour-long gun battle, the armed group reportedly withdrew into Kosovo on the other side of the border.

These are the beginnings of the 2001 armed conflict between Macedonian government forces and the Albanian NLA in the Republic of Macedonia. According to the NLA, the goal of the insurgency was to secure greater rights for Albanians in Macedonia, who make up 25.17 percent of the overall population of the country. The decision to take up arms was allegedly motivated by the failure of the Macedonian state, ten years after independence, to pass the laws necessary to carry certain provisions of the founding Constitution into effect and hence provide the Albanian community with . . .

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