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Transformations in the Skopje Old Bazaar, transformations in new Macedonia : spatiality of ethnopolitics


Janev,  Goran
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Janev, G. (2011). Transformations in the Skopje Old Bazaar, transformations in new Macedonia: spatiality of ethnopolitics. Talk presented at "People make places: ways of feeling the world". 10th congress of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore. Lisbon, Portugal. 2011-04-17 - 2011-04-21.

The central square and the immediate surroundings of the Macedonian capital Skopje is to receive over dozen of new buildings and between 30 and 50 new monuments in a four year period. This total symbolic reconstruction of the capital creates a monocultural narrative space and disregards the famed diversity that used to characterize the country. Adjacent to this area is the Old Bazaar, the central part of the ancient Skopje. This is a narrative space of great diversity whose incredibly heterogenous soundscape and smellscape marks the various religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural tastes and belongings. This image of the Old Bazaar has been affected by the ethnopolitical adventures in the past two decades of Macedonian independence. Yet it has been recently revived and this space is now revisited by new generations. It is no longer a border zone and has been turned into a contact zone. Even though the spatiality of ethnopolitics receives only limited academic attention, I intend to explore the possibility of looking at interethnic relations, positive and negative, as they evolve in space. I apply a literal reading of the concepts of borders, frontiers and boundaries beyond the metaphorical usage and consider their spatial aspect. I examine how the narrative of a divided city contributed towards creation of exclusive spaces and how the creation of exclusive spaces contributes towards creation of narrative of mixed and multicultural city and such spaces within it.