The Macedonian Tendency: What's the Question?

Monday, February 14, 2005

What's the Question?

I have not bothered to read this book because ofthe reasons that follow in this review. The editor, James Pettifer, is pro-Greek, anti-Macedonian and anti-truth. He is part of the de-stabilization network in the Balkans.

Reality Macedonia : Review of the Book "The New Macedonian Question":

he following book review written by Professor Robert Hislope will be forthcoming in the Canadian-American Slavic Studies

Certainly no identity and ownership questions surrounding Macedonia are definitively answered in this text. Rather, Pettifer enables the airing of conflicting Macedonian, Bulgarian, Greek, and Albanian interpretations, and leaves the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusion. The editor appropriately frames this as a contribution to the debate and not its resolution, a point some critics appear to miss.

That having been said, it is disconcerting to read Pettifer’s own terminological choices in the identification of the new state and its titular people. In his preface, introduction, and two chapters, Pettifer insists on calling the state of Macedonia by its internationally recognized name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM. This is a compromised name, brokered by the international community in an attempt to placate Greek claims and fears (see Drezov, ch.4 and Kofos, ch.15). Albanians in Macedonia have often exploited this formulation in an attempt to undercut the legitimacy of the state. In addition, Pettifer refuses to accept the self-identification of Macedonians, using either inverted commas to de-legitimize the term or employing the derisive phrase “Slav-speakers” to designate ethnic Macedonians. Again, this only makes sense from a Greek or Albanian point of view. It is an exercise in bad faith to declare neutrality (as he does in the introduction) and then actually take sides in a Balkan cultural war. It also borders on arrogance and racism to reject the self-designation of a group. What would we think, for example, if Pettifer examined race relations in the USA, but insisted on calling African-Americans “negroes”? While this volume does demonstrate the historical contestability of Macedonian identity, this point can be made without insulting the very people one is studying. As Dimitar Mircev points out in his chapter, a “common denominator” in so many efforts to derail Macedonian statehood is “to deny and repudiate Macedonian ethnicity” (p.209). Pettifer’s book, therefore, has the distinction of both offering an accessible insight into Macedonia’s tortured past and present, and providing scholarly encouragement to the very political forces that would like to keep the Macedonian Question an open one for the future.

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