Blog Slavmacedonian people: is a “ethnic category” ?

Slavmacedonian people: is a “ethnic category” ?

Posted by Author on in Blog 49

An interesting comment took place from Pr. Loring Danforth regarding the ethnicity of the Slavmacedonians at the history-of-macedonia.com
Here is the abstract:


I have always stated, and I repeat here, that modern Macedonians[1] (people who have a Macedonian and not a Greek national identity) are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians; they are Slavs.[….] In my opinion, Macedonian nationalists who deny they are Slavs and claim they are direct descendants of Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians are extremists. They are making inaccurate statements that are bad scholarship and bad politics. Building a statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje and naming the Skopje airport after Alexander the Great are in my opinion irresponsible acts that are not in the best interests of the Republic of Macedonia.

Also Pr. Danforth in his controversial book [4] claims that:

the history of the construction of a Macedonian national identity does not begin with Alexander the great in the fourth century b.c. or with saints Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century a.d., as Macedonian nationalist historians often claim. Nor does it begin with Tito and the establishment of the people's republic of Macedonia in 1944 as Greek nationalist historians would have us believe. It begins in the nineteenth century with the first expressions of Macedonian ethnic nationalism on the part of a small number of intellectuals in places like Thessaloniki, Belgrade, Sophia, and St.Petersburg. This period marks the beginning of the process of "imagining" a Macedonian national community, the beginning of the construction of a Macedonian national identity and culture”.

By read these interesting claims from the Australian Professor, the question that has come in my mind is: if the Slavmacedonian people belong to “ethnic category” and not to “ethnic community” or “nation”, according Pr. A.D. Smith ethno symbolic approaches?

Pr. A.D. Smith speaks for  “ethnic categories” populations, who possess a collective proper name and share one or more cultural attributes, usually language and customs, which differentiate them from others, and who usually have, or are thought to have, some link with a particular territory, though this may be shifting and uncertain. Such categories are seen from the outside as 'ethnic', that is, as having a common origin and history, even if the population itself has no myth of common ancestry.[5]

Pr Adrian Hastings, goes further and says, that these type of populations are fluid and often transient, because they have no fixed boundaries, and no symbols or myths, encoded in texts and artifacts.[6] A common ethnicity is attributed to the population by outsiders, but not felt within, or at least, we have no record or means of knowing whether the members possess any collective ties and sentiments.

Looking an interesting historical argument arose in support of an independent Slavmacedonian nationality that ultimately reached its maturity only after World War II and Tito's construction of a federated Communist Yugoslavia composed of six independent "historic" republics, of which one was Macedonia. The  Slavmacedonians quite simply stole all of the Greek(ancient elements) Bulgarian(medieval and modern elements) historical argument concerning Macedonia, substituting "Macedonian" for Bulgarian  ot “Greek” ethnic tags in the story. Greek King Alexander, Bulgarian King Samuel, Bulgarian  socialist Delcev,  became Macedonians in order to establish a imagine genealogy and a kinship myth. These kinship myths of ethnic origins and descent are often linked to migration memories and to rituals, symbols and myths of a common cult, which link the human to the cosmic world, and place the union of families under divine protection as A.D. Smith point out.

One more thing is the Slav Macedonian language is considered by most Slav Macedonians to be one of the most positive contributions to their separate status. The question of what language Slav Macedonians actually spoke prior to 1945 has caused disagreements among even the most disinterested linguists. The Slav Macedonian dialects made a gradual transition from Serbian north of Skopje to Bulgarian in Eastern Macedonia. Even those who claim that a separate Slav Macedonian language existed before 1945 admit that all these dialects have a very close affinity to Bulgarian.[7]

Important role play the Third Communist International (the Comintern) in the interwar period. Instead of the term 'Bulgarian people', as this was used in previous declarations of the Third International, the terms 'Macedonian people' and 'Macedonian population without national distinctions' were introduced in 1923-24. The aim of the Communist International was that all nationalities in Macedonian would develop an indigenous Macedonian consciousness as one 'people' from a political perspective, and aspire to a United and Independent Macedonia so as to undermine the “bourgeois” Balkan states. By using the terms “Macedonian people” and “working masses of Macedonia”, indicating all the nationalities of Macedonia, Slav and non-Slav, as a unified total coming under the term “people”.

Today, with the presence of the ultranationalist VMRO/DPNE in the FYROM administration, Slavmacedonians denying that “Macedonians” are, or have ever been Slavs, it revealed that they are a separate people, appeared in the cataclysm and spread from Macedonia to Bulgaria and Asia Minor. The ancient Macedonians and the present “Macedonians” spoke and continue to speak a Macedonian language which is neither Greek nor Slavonic. Not only was Alexander’s empire “Macedonian”, but also the Byzantine Empire. Thus, Constantinople, not Thessaloniki should be the capital of a resurrected Macedonian empire. The Byzantine-Bulgarian wars was a civil war. In their pantheon of heroes and saints are Alexander, Aristotle and Democritus, Cyril and Methodius, Tsar Samuel, Goce Delcev, and the leaders of the Slav-Macedonian organizations which participated in the Greek Resistance and the Greek Civil War. A similar treatise was published in Makedonija (Melbourne), 30 July-21 August 1986, reprinted from Glas na Makedoncite. The following excerpts are particularly revealing:
For almost three hundred years we have been taught under cruel circumstances that we are Sloveni - Macedonians are dead and we are different people – “Macedonian Slavians” ... Slavianism for us Macedonians is a deadly destructive political, moral and national force which aims to eradicate Macedonianism completely ...Politically, once we become Slavs we automatically lose any significance as descendants of the ancient Macedonians ... By calling ourselves Slavs we legalize this robbery by the Greeks [of the ancient Macedonians] ... For us, Macedonian revolutionaries, Macedonianism gives wholeness to our being, past, present and future. It is inner liberation from foreign imposed ideas, and confidence in our ability to be what we have been and will again be ... If we remain silent, we will remain Slavs, and as Slavs we have no legal right to anything Macedonian ... ’[Kofos,1989,National Heritage and National Identity in 19th and 20th cent in Macedonia]
From the above is obvious that the Slavmacedonian people belong to “ethnic category” and not to “ethnic community” or “nation”, according Pr. A.D. Smith ethno symbolic approaches. This political ethno-myth of the Slav Macedonians called from many observers as Macedonism/pseudomacedonism/slavmacedonism.[8]Slavmacedonists and theirs supporters supporters have suggested many ways to revise the teaching of European history and science.[9] But if diversity does not apply to truth, then there are limits to academic freedom. That does not mean that we should try to keep people from knowing about erroneous theories or hypothetical possibilities, or from reading works like the Macedonians Slavs and the connection with the ancient Greek culture or the Slavic idiom that speak Greeks and Slavmacedonians is the same with the creation of the Slav Macedonian language that had as aim to de-Bulgarize the Slav Macedonians and create a separate national consciousness. Political elements could easily concoct a national ideology to service the needs of this “ethnogenesis”, with unclear dividing lines between myth and historical fact, so as to lend the Slavs of Macedonia a “glorious” past.

Sources & Bibliography

1-A Macedonian (English term) according to several sources [www.merriam-webster.com] is a native or inhabitant of the (Ancient or Modern) Macedonian region. Any different usage, from this that gives from the dictionaries has personal and political or ambiguous motives.

2-history-of-macedonia.com

3-http://akritas-history-of-makedonia.blogspot.com/2010/11/blog-post_15.html

4-L.Daforth, The Macedonian Conflict, 1995

5-A.D. Smith, “Nationalism”, 2010,

6-A. Hastings, “The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism”, 1997

7-Stephen E. Palmer, Jr. Robert R. King,” Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question”, 1971

8- Slav-Macedonism(also call as Macedonism and pseudo-Macedonism) is the political idea prevailing in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which utilises historical revisionism to establish links between an ethnic group that formed in the 20th century - ethnic 'Macedonians' - and historical events and figures of the 19th century and Middle Ages. For example, Bulgarian Tsar Samuil, despite the overwhelming evidence, is portrayed as a "Macedonian" king. Further attempts are made to deny the Hellenic nature of the ancient kingdom of Macedon and to seek connections between present day ethnic Macedonians and the Ancient Macedonians. Unfortunately for extremist Macedonists , history bears witness to the fact that in the early 1940s the Bulgarian and Slav inhabitants of  modern geographical Macedonia were transformed into "Macedonians" for political reasons by communist dictators (Tito, Stalin, and Dimitrov) and infamous communist organizations (Comintern and the Balkan Communist Federation ).

9- The ROSETTA STONE and the Tendov-Boshevski Controversy by Miltiades, Phoebos and Hephastion Bolaris.[ http://ancient-medieval-macedonian-history.blogspot.com/2009/09/rosetta-stone-and-tendov-boshevski.html ]

UPDATE: 5th April 2011