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Rearranging solidarity: conspiracy and world order in Greek and Macedonian commentaries on Kosovo

Brown, Keith, Theodossopoulos, Dimitrios (2003) Rearranging solidarity: conspiracy and world order in Greek and Macedonian commentaries on Kosovo. Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, 5 (3). pp. 315-335. ISSN 1461-3190. E-ISSN 1469-963X. (doi:10.1080/14613190310001610760) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:52335)

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In the spring of 1999, after escalating tensions in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, NATO went to war against Serbia. This Western intervention was the object of heated debate in various constituencies around the world: within Yugoslavia, Kosovo's majority Albanian population rejoiced in their possible liberation from Serbian oppression, while Serbs questioned the legality of international involvement within a sovereign state. In Europe and America, leftist critics warned of US imperialism, while in China mass protests were sparked when NATO bombs destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Closer to the combat zone, citizens of other southeast European countries watched uneasily. The break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s had generated bloody conflict in Croatia and Bosnia, where successor states vied to control territory and resources. It had also prompted dispute in the symbolic realm, as Greece objected to the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia's sovereignty. The Kosovo war of 1999, though, represented a new set of issues: the ferocity of NATO's aerial assault, the mass displacement of refugees into fragile neighbouring states, and the fundamental character of the war, which pitted Western armed forces directly against a Balkan state, were all unprecedented, and fed fears among amateur and professional commentators that further escalation was likely. In this paper we set out to examine the presence of the Kosovo war in everyday commentary and conversation among the residents of two cities, one Greek and one Macedonian, in 1999. Our aim is first ethnographic: to document how people in the region interpreted a war that Western media, following the line preached by US President Clinton and UK Prime Minister Blair, presented at the time as humanitarian, just and therefore necessary. The narratives we collected were unanimous in viewing NATO's action negatively, and drew on an apparently shared stock of idioms. We consider this apparent ‘meeting of minds’ between Greeks and Macedonians as an interpretive challenge. It is remarkable not only because Greece is and Macedonia aspires to be a member of NATO and the European Union, but also in the light of the previously high-profile and allegedly deep-rooted dispute between the two countries. The explanation we offer in this paper is that the common anti-Western rhetoric and remarkable parallels in explanations of the war demonstrate how deeply cultural factors shape perceptions of political realities.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/14613190310001610760
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2015 23:46 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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