Ottomans into Illyrians : passages to nationhood in 20th century Albania
Title: Ottomans into Illyrians : passages to nationhood in 20th century Albania
Author: JAZEXHIU, Olsi
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This dissertation surveys specific episodes in the process of Albanian national formation. Its aim is to contest the official narrative of Albanian historiography which portrays the creation of the Albanian state and the Albanian national movement in a teleological and primordial manner. This present study underscores the resistance to the notion of “Albania” and a secular ethnic “Albanian” from local Muslim and Christian peoples in what, after 1913, was to constitute the modern nation-state of Albania. To present this we have analysed numerous personal memoirs, works of nationalist Albanians, poems and folk songs, newspaper articles and archival materials, school textbooks and personal interviews, which have been used to explain the development of Albanian nationalism. Our analysis commences in late Ottoman Albania, where the ideas of “Albania” and “Albanianism” were conceived within Albanian intellectual circles within the Ottoman Empire. After this we visit the period of Yong Turk revolution and show how Albanianism was forced to compete with Yong Turkism among the intellectual elites of Albania. A portion of our research deals with Tirana - the present-day capital of Albania - where the peasants and most Muslim urbanites rejected secular Albanianism and struggled against it. We also investigate the political factors and the importance that Great Powers played in the 1913 creation of the Albanian state. We explain why the creation of Albania did not create nationalist bliss among the people inhabiting Albania during this time. The Orthodox Christians of the south and Muslims of the center rejected outright and fought against the Albanian state, triggering its collapse in 1915. In the last chapters of our dissertation we show how Albania came into being again following the end of the First World War and the peace conference held in Paris. The crossroads in Albania’s fate came with the Congress of Lushnja held in 1920 which led to the solidification of an Albanian secular state. The formation of this state gave the nationalists the tool by which they could now turn the country’s Muslims and Christians into Albanians. We furthermore analyse the deliberations of the first Albanian parliament, the endeavors of the politicians and the policies of successive post-Lushnja governments that enabled the secularization of society and state. In the last part we analyse the national school system and its textbooks, both of which were produced and managed by the nationalists in order to produce “Albanians.” This last portion examines selected textbooks through which Albanian nationalists sought to persuade the Muslims and the Christians of Albania that they were members of Europe’s oldest people: Pelasgians and Illyrians.
Defence date: 7 September 2011; Examining Board: Prof. Anthony Molho EUI) - Supervisor Prof. Steve Smith (EUI) Prof. Nathalie Clayer (CNRS-EHESS, Paris) Prof. Bülent Bilmez (Istanbul Bilgi University)
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