Melting Borders: An Ethnography of the Movement of Peoples, Goods, and Symbols in Border-areas between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia II

The Melting Borders project investigated the porous nature of political and economic boundaries between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. Although the two countries have been engaged in a political dispute over Macedonia’s name, there have been massive economic exchanges and the border areas have experienced unprecedented movements of goods and people. Instead of viewing the dispute between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece as an insurmountable problem, as a political or moral challenge to the international community, our research aimed to provide a detailed ethnographic account of the specific places and social realities within and beyond the border areas of the two countries. Our primary research objective has been to offer a new approach to understanding how borders, grounded in the neoliberal context and currently experiencing the world-wide economic recession, affect different actors, take on, lose or shift people’s senses of national distinction, social difference, historical legitimacy and material inequalities. Our theoretical objective is to offer a new approach to understanding the relationship between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia by focusing on relationships across the border rather than on the political dispute. Instead of taking the border between these two countries for granted and treating it as a barrier to interaction, this project is focusing on the economic, social, moral and material aspects of border-crossing, and offers a deeper understanding on how the logic of neoliberal sovereignty affects nation-state loyalties and people’s senses of belonging and national sentiment in times of severe financial crisis on the border area between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece. In conclusion we stress the significant contribution of this project to the growing literature on borders in Europe. While the unequal relationship between Greece, as a member of the EU, and Macedonia, as an aspiring member, affects cross-border relations, this project revealed that the financial crisis in Greece and in Europe puts into question the very idea of “Europe”. And although Greece is a member of the EU, and thus a representative of the European ideal, the recent financial and migrant crises disclose the contested definitions of being “European”. Tracing the changes in state and supranational borders brought about after 1989 by the transformation of socialist entities into full-fledged nation-states this project’s main empirical contribution is a deeper understanding of the role of Europe, EU members and neighboring non- EU member states in questioning what constitutes “Europe” and “European” in social, economic, political and religious terms, but also destabilizing widespread assertions in the media and among politicians that southern Europeans are less financially and fiscally “responsible” than northern Europeans.

Voß, Christian Prof. Dr. (Details) (South Slavic Languages and Cultures)

Duration of Project
Start date: 06/2013
End date: 09/2021

Last updated on 2021-22-02 at 23:05