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Shadow Genealogies: Memory and Identity Among Urban Muslims in Macedonia
by:Burcu Akan Ellis
Shadow Genealogies explores identity transformations among minority populations under conditions of intense sociopolitical change. Based on intensive fieldwork in the Republic of Macedonia, this study chronicles the fragmentation of the Sehirli, once widespread urban Muslim communities in Macedonia, into Turkish and Albanian elements throughout the...
Shadow Genealogies explores identity transformations among minority populations under conditions of intense sociopolitical change. Based on intensive fieldwork in the Republic of Macedonia, this study chronicles the fragmentation of the Sehirli, once widespread urban Muslim communities in Macedonia, into Turkish and Albanian elements throughout the formative years of former Yugoslavia. Illustrating the dynamics of identity construction and alteration that extend beyond contemporary ethnic divisions in the Balkans, Shadow Genealogies offers a fresh perspective on the flexibility and sophistication that divided societies require if they are to survive as integrated, cohesive social units. Shadow Genealogies weaves together the life histories of more than two hundred individuals across ninety well-known Muslim families in Macedonia. Through their voices, the book displays change where it is least expected; in ethnic identities in a country torn apart by ethnic strife. Re-creating identities under pressure forces communities to act like "cultural cannibals" who destroy and consume their own meaningful categories to emerge with alternative definitions or acceptable modes of survival. Ultimately, their stories suggest the deficiency of ethnicity as a political category in the face of opulent memories. Juxtaposing anthropological insights on ethnicity, religion and gender with unique observations on the migrations and identity politics of urban Muslim populations in the region, this book raises seminal questions about the role of culture and identity in the Balkans.
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