International Conference:

Folk Culture and Boundaries in the Balkans

Volos, 7-8 June 2008

The concept of the conference Organizers and sponsors The conference programme


Domna Michail (University of Western Macedonia)
Boundary crossing and boundary maintenance between the Albanian Immigrants and the Greek community in Argos Orestiko - Kastoria.

During the last two decades the upheaval of ethno-nationalism in the Balkans, the resulting ethnic conflicts, and geopolitical changes have created a considerable surge of refugees and immigrants who moved to countries with more stable political systems. In Greece the flows of immigrants have pluralized its cultural and ethnic composition and created new forms of social interaction and real or symbolic boundary setting.
The paper is based on an ethnographic research conducted among Albanian immigrants in Argos Orestiko - Kastoria (2005-2008). Albanians in our field area seem to cross boundaries (real or symbolic) in a process of identity construction and ethnic identity formation. Boundary crossing is attempted by mother language shifting or abandonment, Orthodox Christian baptism, and name-changing and is also expressed through the positive way the Albanian immigrants in the field view issues of education and social mobility within Greece.
On the other hand, boundary maintenance has initially been expressed by the Greeks vis-a-vis the Albanian immigrants either as cultural persistence or in ethnic terms by not fully accepting them within their community and has been articulated in various forms. The phenomena of boundary crossing and boundary maintenance in "real" communities are dynamic exactly like human relations. In this paper we attempt to examine the ways in which boundary maintenance on the side of the Greek community encourages the Albanian immigrants' practices of boundary crossing. Ethnicity here is examined as a performative social behavior, as a social construction which is constantly formed by people themselves in everyday social interaction.