The history of post-independent Macedonia has been characterized by alternating periods of heightened tension and ambiguous relaxation of ethnic relations between the country’s two largest groups, Macedonians and Albanians. The country came close to the brink of civil war in early 2001, when an armed conflict broke out between the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) and Macedonian security forces. The conflict was initiated by the NLA with the proclaimed purpose of securing greater rights for the Albanian community in Macedonia and was terminated six months later by the internationally brokered Ohrid Framework Agreement.
Vasiliki Neofotistos discusses her recently released book, The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia, focusing on the ways middle- and working-class Albanian and Macedonian noncombatants in Macedonia's capital city, Skopje, responded with resilience and wit to disruptive and threatening changes in social structure during the 2001 armed conflict as uncertainty regarding the viability of the state became widespread. Attention to everyday social practices and performances in which Macedonians and Albanians engaged during the armed conflict also helps us better understand how Macedonia has thus far managed to escape civil bloodshed despite growing ethno-religious polarization and recent outbursts of ethnic friction in the country.
This lecture sheds light on the agency of people in resisting war, and underlines the necessity of considering the interpersonal dynamics of intergroup contact under circumstances of armed violence in order to arrive at a holistic understanding of violence and peace in the Balkans and beyond.
Vasiliki Neofotistos holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University, and is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo). She is the author of The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) and numerous articles on ethnicity, nationalism, and multiculturalism in the Balkans. Her field research has been funded by the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchanges Board, the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research, the American Philosophical Society as well as by grants from SUNY Buffalo. Her current research interests include the commemoration of armed conflict and the production of official history in Macedonia and also the development of social policy in post-conflict countries in the Balkans and elsewhere.
- Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Undergraduate Studies, State University of New York, Buffalo