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Beyond Stereotypes: Violence and the Porousness of Ethnic Boundaries in the Republic of Macedonia

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In this article, the author explores the social construction of local classifications and their work in the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonians and Albanians construe classifications of their social world that are modeled on ethnicity, but at the same time readily violate them. By deploying the classificatory principles kultura and besa (widely glossed as "culture" and "trustworthiness", respectively), local actors can render ethnic boundaries porous and incorporate selected individuals of different ethnic origin within their ethnic communities. The different degrees of social inclusion within the Macedonian and Albanian ethnic communities are examined and it is argued that the porousness of ethnic boundaries can be indicative of the ways in which actors experience the social world and their position in it. The processes that are described in this article shed light on how so-called "inter-ethnic tensions" can be negotiated in daily life and how local society, at first sight fraught with negative ethnic stereotypes, can prove resilient towards ethnic violence.
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Keywords: Balkans; Ethnic stereotypes; Macedonia; Negotiation; Violence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2004

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