Greek Gifts: Archaeophilia, Ochlocracy and Monochromatism in Contemporary Macedonia

March 10, 2010 // 11:00am12:30pm

As part of their program of "national revival," the Government of the Republic of Macedonia has embarked on a program of "antiquization" to lay claim to the legacy of Alexander the Great—in ways that resemble a longer process of antiquization in Greece, and which contribute to tensions between the two countries. This paper reviews the debate over antiquization within the Republic, focusing in particular on the robust critiques offered by a range of dissidents who risk being labeled as "dissidents" or "traitors." It then explores the similarities between the Republic's present and Greece's recent and more distant past, in which scholars and activists who questioned assumptions of cultural continuity and national purity have faced sanctions ranging from stalled career paths to lawsuits and death threats. As well as analyzing how, why and for whom these seemingly irrational attachments to a master-narrative of unique ancient origins make perfect political sense, the manuscript describes three key aspects of these debates—archaeophilia, ochlocracy and monochromatism –which, taken together, suggest that Macedonia's leadership is using a template of nation-building borrowed, via Greece, from Western Europe. The paper then discusses the wider, negative impact on civic life of simplistic and singular versions of history: and concludes by highlighting what productive steps might be taken by external actors interested in promoting peace and stability in the region.

This event will take place in the 5th floor conference room.

Event Speakers List: 
  • Associate Professor (Research), Brown University
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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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