Working Paper 94

From Past Necessity to Contemporary Friction: migration, class and ethnicity in Macedonia

Rozita Dimova

Department ‘Integration and Conflict’

Year of publication

Number of pages

Working Paper 94

This paper argues that the migration policies of the Yugoslav Socialist Federation (1943-1991) and the ensuing diasporic links have contributed to interethnic tension in Macedonia since its independence in 1991. As part of the Federation, ethnic Macedonians were a privileged "working class" whose members enjoyed a comfortable, state-sponsored lifestyle and other advantages. Since then, not only have they lost this status, they have also been confronted with the increasing prosperity of many ethnic Albanians, whose ties with relatives abroad have enabled them to open modest businesses, to build large houses and to buy expensive commodities. I have already analysed the complex topic of nationalism and consumption (Dimova 2004), based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a small Macedonian town, where I showed that the link between migration and nationalism manifests itself in everyday life: consumer goods and material objects make the differentiation between the two ethnic groups highly conspicuous. The newly acquired prosperity of many ethnic Albanians sets them apart as "the others". This analysis, by contrast, primarily concerns the link between migration and nationalism, a link which I argue is mediated through the process of consumption. The subsequent analysis addresses the complicated history of migration and national politics in the Federation during and since its violent dissolution in 1991.

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