‘Being Nationalist’: Identity in a Post-Ottoman state
My PhD project focuses on what it means to be nationalist and how it is different from banal everyday forms of nationalism (although in the process of fieldwork it became obvious how the two were at least to a degree connected). My aim is to provide a fresh view on South Eastern Europe from some of the earliest stereotypes about it. While I was initially reluctant to delve into such a stereotypical topic I slowly realised that there was very little written on rightist, nationalist or conservative organisations because of the ideological bias of Western academia. Yet the topic raises interesting issues: is the form of right wing activism different from left wing activism? Is that part of what separates them? Furthermore, how do we understand an insistence of the primacy of ethnic identification in a world that is presumed to have moved on from such matters?
My fieldwork raised issues about Bulgarian minorities in Serbia, continuing tensions with Macedonia, politics and the media, charismatic leadership, struggling with the rising issue of the Roma in Eastern Europe and importantly history and folklore viewed as ‘the story of a people’. It also allowed me to witness a petition for a referendum against Turkey’s entry into the EU.
In my research I hope to touch upon the importance of starting to view the region through the full breadth of problematic that informs its current conditions, meaning not only the Cold War and the fall of communism, but also the other important ‘post-‘, namely the Ottoman empire.