Albanians, Albanianism and the Strategic Subversion of Stereotypes (republication)

Authors: Schwandner-Sievers, S.

Journal: Anthropological Notebooks

Volume: 14

Issue: 2

Pages: 47-64

ISSN: 1408-032X


This contribution describes the ways in which various European host countries’ stereotypical imageries of Albanians as being culturally particularly prone to violence have forced contemporary transnational Albanian migrants into subversive strategies and practices of identity mimicry. This powerful stereotypical imagery, a sub-category of Balkanism known as Albanianism, can be traced through various European historical literature and contemporary policy as well as in historical auto-imagery which all have always mutually mirrored and influenced each other. The study finds that ‘Albanian violence’ valorised according to political and economic interests, i.e. romantically glorified as ‘noble’ or demonised – typically in reference to customary kanun traditions and customary ideals of heroism, manly courage and honour – in both hetero- and auto-imageries. But, equally,mutually sceptical attitudes (Occidentalist and Orientalist) can be identified as well as the historical precedents for outsiders appropriating paternalist protectionism towards the Albanians in reference to ‘primitive’ local customs. In the end it emerges that, today, it is exactly those criminals – who by their actions help to perpetuate essentialist generalisations of Albanian violence – are the ones benefiting from contemporary Albanianism in implicit discursive alliance with contemporary, exclusivist, immigration policy.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers