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Notes from the Balkans:
Locating Marginality and Ambiguity on the Greek-Albanian Border
Sarah F. Green

Winner of the 2006 William A. Douglass Award, American Anthropological Association
Winner of the 2007 Honor Book Award, New Jersey Council for the Humanities

Paperback | 2005 | $38.95 | ($27.27) / £26.95 | (£18.87) | ISBN: 9780691121994
336 pp. | 6 x 9 | 12 halftones. 20 tables. 8 maps.
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Maps and borders notwithstanding, some places are best described as "gaps"--places with repeatedly contested boundaries that are wedged in between other places that have clear boundaries. This book explores an iconic example of this in the contemporary Western imagination: the Balkans. Drawing on richly detailed ethnographic research around the Greek-Albanian border, Sarah Green focuses her groundbreaking analysis on the ambiguities of never quite resolving where or what places are. One consequence for some Greek peoples in this border area is a seeming lack of distinction--but in a distinctly "Balkan" way. In gaps (which are never empty), marginality is, in contrast with conventional understandings, not a matter of difference and separation--it is a lack thereof.

Notes from the Balkans represents the first ethnographic approach to exploring "the Balkans" as an ideological concept. Green argues that, rather than representing a tension between "West" and "East," the Balkans makes such oppositions ambiguous. This kind of marginality means that such places and peoples can hardly engage with "multiculturalism." Moreover, the region's ambiguity threatens clear, modernist distinctions. The violence so closely associated with the region can therefore be seen as part of continual attempts to resolve the ambiguities by imposing fixed separations. And every time this fails, the region is once again defined as a place that will continually proliferate such dangerous ambiguity, and could spread it somewhere else.


"Notes from the Balkans is a penetrating and richly textured account of marginality in the Epirus area of north-western Greece. . . . Sarah Green's text. . . . provides a subtle and persuasive tool for thinking about the contextual specificity of social identities . . . that will be pertinent far beyond the Balkans."--Madeleine Reeves, Cambridge Anthropology

"Sarah Green's wide-ranging discussion of 'Balkan' history, emphasizing circuits of movement, is engaging and enlightening. The book's theoretical discussions are dense . . . but not turgid; Green has a light, direct, and unpretentious style of writing. Notes from the Balkans gives readers a visceral sense of the 'ordinary' and, I think, a better idea about marginality. It is a delightful book to read."--Laurie Kain Hart, American Ethnologist

"The book's principal contributions are twofold: First, it adds magnificent new ethnographic information about an area that has not been systematically studied by a foreign anthropologist since the pioneering work of John Campbell. Second, it applies a brilliant theoretical discussion of marginality, identity, and ambiguity to a setting in which concepts and categories, or affiliations and labels, have been under constant change. This is a well-researched, masterfully written, and theoretically sophisticated study that is unique in both conception and analysis. . . . This is a quality study that should reach out to a wider audience of area specialists, not only to anthropologists."--Anastasia Karakasidou, American Anthropologist


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Table of Contents:

List of Maps and Figures ix
List of Tables xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Notes on Transliteration, Translation, and Pseudonyms xvii
CHAPTER 1: Marginal Margins 1
CHAPTER 2: Travels 40
CHAPTER 3: Moving Mountains 89
CHAPTER 4: The Balkan Fractal 128
CHAPTER 5: Counting 159
CHAPTER 6: Embodied Recounting 176
CHAPTER 7: Developments 218
APPENDIX: Tables 249
Notes 261
Bibliography 279
Index 297


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File created: 9/19/2015

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