Historical lessons of Macedonian multiculturalism

by Goran Janev

Working Papers WP 09-02
June 2009
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Politicization of Macedonian history in domestic and foreign historiography has led to a focus on the Macedonian nation building processes at the expense of a more nuanced approach that would allow everyday multicultural practices from the past to become visible. Macedonia’s diversity was acknowledged by the Macedonian revolutionaries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Despite this fact, it remains underreported in the historiography dominated by nation-state formation in the Balkans. The paper contrasts the available evidence about the Macedonian revolutionaries’ multicultural mindset with the nationalistic perspective dictated by the great powers and regional expanding nation-states. Finally, by sketching out the early and late Ottoman inclusive policies and their preference for conviviality and coexistence, I argue against the historiographic paradigm of discontinuity characterised by abrupt changes in favour of a processual perspective of adaptive transformations.

Goran Janev is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MMG), Department for Socio-Cultural Diversity, Göttingen.