Fragment from the Ph. D of Dr. Natassa Griogorevic supported at 2008 in Academy of Science of Slovenia. Her Ph. D. is the most complete study for Himara region never realized by a foreign scholar up to now.
The last famous traveler in Himara was Hammond which traveled during 1930-year but he traverse the region very quick. Hammond is the author of "Epirous", a three-volume book.
The longer stay in Himara region was from the Bazilian monks from 1627 to 1750 (but with a lot of time-break)
Fieldwork Frames: Dhërmi/Drimades of Himarë/Himara Area
How are the dynamic processes of construction and reconfiguration of space and place
connected to the
migrations, and transnational cultural flows? Part of the answer already stems from the old woman’s identification of being a
involving drawing lines on the map” (Green 2005: 15). While for some the Northern Epirus straddles the Greek-Albanian border, for others it also includes a part of the Southern Albania, where predominantly the Greek-speaking population of Christian Orthodox religion lives; and there are also others, especially the Albanian people, for whom
Throughout the centuries people living in
7 In modern Greek language the term ethnicity derives from the word ethnos which virtually incorporate the
entire range of terminology for nationhood and nationalism (Herzfeld 2005: 113, see also Green 2005: 266 fn. 12). Similar meanings the word ethnicicy has among the people of Dhërmi/Drimades who predominantly use local Greek dialect and Albanian southern dialect in their day-to-day conversation. In order to avoid this semantic conflation that do not fully reflect the meanig of ethnicity as defined by Barth (1970 , 1994), Eriksen (1993), Coen A. P. (1994), Knežević Hočevar (1999), Šumi (2000) et.al. in the continuing part of my thesis I do not use this term.
places was replaced with the nationalistic principle, which categorized people and places
according to their language and territory. Discordances between the Ottoman and nationalistic ways of dividing people and places led to tensions and territorial disputes, which since then continuously appear, disappear, reappear and blur (de Rapper and Sintès 2006, Green 2005: 148-149).
Politically raised tensions, which were mainly provoked by the pro-Greek party, began in
different places where both Greek and Albanian speakers lived. In accord with the claims of the Greek speaking people, the autonomous
According to my discussions with the people of Dhërmi/Drimades the border between
During the communist dictatorship (1945-1990), the road, to dromo, which lead to the state border and which was used by the people living in
Despite the restriction and control of even the in-country movements, Hoxha’s policy of
unification and homogenisation of Albanian citizens forced many Greek-speaking people to move to the places in the northern or central part of
During the period of communism the minority issues and irredentist claims raised by the
Southern Albanian pro-Greek party almost disappeared. They resurfaced again in 1990 after the declaration of democracy, opening of the borders, and massive migrations that followed (Hatziprokopiou 2003: 1033-1059, Mai and Schwandner-Sievers 2003: 939-949, Papailias 2003: 1059-1079). Nowadays, because of economic (capitalism), political (democracy, the rise of new nation-states and European Union), social and cultural (individuality) changes, these issues are reflected upon in a somehow different way as they were before. In Dhërmi/Drimades and Himarë/Himara the main differentiation is advanced by the people who claim to be of the village or the area identifying themselves with the term locals (horiani) or “of the place” (apo ton topo). Except for some elderly inhabitants of Dhërmi/Drimades, like the old woman with whom Entela and I spoke, declaration of being a
Emigration was especially apparent in the places such as Gjirokastër, Sarandë, Delvinë and Himarë/Himara, where the Greek-speaking population lives. In order to control and regulate massive migration of people coming from Albania and other post-communist countries (i.e. USSR), and in order to deal with immigrants claiming to be of Greek origin, the Greek government introduced the immigration law 1975/1991 Triandafyllidou and Veikou 2002: 198). In one of its sections the law deals with the immigrants of Greek origin, namely Greek Albanians or Vorioepirotes and Pontic Greeks8, or so called co-ethnic or omogheneis.
According to the State Council9 the Greek ethnic origin can be granted on the basis of cultural ancestry (sharing “common historical memories” and/or links with “historic homelands and culture”), Greek descent (Greek Albanians have to prove that the birth place of their parents or grandparents is in Northern Epirus), language, and religion (ibid.). By the Ministerial Decision the Greek Albanians are after the recognition and confirmation of their Greek origin granted with a Special Identity Card of omoghenis – Eidiko Deltio Tautotitas Omoghenous (Tsitselikis 2003: 7, Kondis and Manda 1994: 20-21). This provides them with an ambiguous but preferred status. They are people with Greek nationality and Albanian citizenship. Besides the legal status this special card gives them the right to reside in Greece, permits them to work there, grants them with special benefits (i.e. social security, health care, and education), and allows them a “free” crossing of the Albanian-Greek border.
While the Greek migration policy defines the Greek origin on the basis of language, religion, birth and predecessors from the region called Northern Epirus, the Albanian minority policy defines the Greek origin according to the language, religion, birth and predecessors originating from the areas once called “minority zones” (i.e. districts of Gjirokastër, Sarandë and Delvinë). As people who claim to originate from Himarë/Himara area do not live within the “minority zones” they are by the Albanian state not considered to be part of the Greek minority.
The contestations in Himarë/Himara area increased when the post-communist decollectivisation of property was made possible by Law 7501 on Land that passed in the Albanian parliament on 19 July 1991 (see Appendix). The law stated that the land, which was once taken from private owners by the communist government and managed by the agricultural production cooperatives, should be divided equally among the members of cooperative. This meant that each member of cooperative should get a portion of the land,with the size depending on the whole size of the land that used to belong to a particular agricultural production cooperative unit. The ownership, which existed before communism, was nullified. This kind of division was considered to be the most fair one by the new
8 In referring to Glytsos (1995), Triandafyllidou and Veikou define Pontic Greeks as “ethnic Greeks who either emigrated from areas of the Ottoman empire (the southern coast of the Black Sea in particular) to the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the 20th century or left Greece in the 1930s and 1940s for political reasons” (2002: 191).
9 State Council (no. 2756/1983) is the Supreme Administrative Court of Justice in
democratic government of the right Democratic Party of Albania (Partia Demokratike e
Shqipërisë). In the period between 13th and 15th century, except for some areas such as
isolated mountainous places of northern Mirdita area and strategically important open coast of Himarë/Himara area, most of the places throughout
proprietors whose successors nowadays object to the governmental distribution plans and
claim back the land of their fathers (Bollano et.al. 2006: 217-241).
According to the official population registration from 2005, the