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Nommer et classer dans les Balkans

Gilles de Rapper
Pierre Sintès

Deuxième partie. Les termes de la différence en Grèce

The Greek Flag in the Hands of an Albanian School Student

Gazmend Kapllani


Le 28 octobre est la fête nationale grecque qui commémore la résistance à l’agression fasciste de la seconde guerre mondiale. Ce jour-là, toutes les écoles publiques organisent un défilé dans lequel les meilleurs élèves portent le drapeau grec. En octobre 2000, le meilleur élève d’une école de la région de Thessalonique était d’origine albanaise. Le fait qu’un Albanais puisse porter le drapeau grec a provoqué de violentes réactions chez les parents d’élèves grecs. Grâce aux médias, la question est devenue une « affaire nationale ». Le pays était divisé : certains maintenaient qu’un Albanais peut, s’il le souhaite, porter le drapeau grec, tandis que cette idée semblait représenter pour d’autres une dangereuse menace contre la « Nation » et l’« Histoire ». Ce texte propose d’interpréter le mécontentement provoqué en Grèce par l’image d’un élève albanais portant le drapeau grec dans ses mains. Quelle est la « signification » de cette image et comment s’inscrit-elle dans l’« imaginaire » de la société ? Quelles sont les principales catégories qui « dessinent » et « redessinent » l’altérité, et par quelles voies cette altérité est-elle produite ?

Texte intégral

1October 28 is a national holiday in Greece, commemorating defiance of Italian fascist aggression in Worl War II. On this day, all state schools organize a parade where the best student of the school carries the Greek flag in a public parade. On October 2000, the best student in a school in the region of Salonica was of Albanian origin: his name was Odysseus Cenaj, and he had migrated to Greece with his parents in 1998.

2However, the idea of an Albanian holding the Greek flag provoked harsh reactions from Greek parents. Thanks to the media, the issue quickly became a “national affair.” The country was split: some claimed that an Albanian can, if he likes, hold the Greek flag whereas others insisted that such a thing appeared as a dangerous threat to the “Nation” and “History.” The result was that the Albanian school student declined his entitlement and did not finally carry the Greek flag.

3The main arguments presented as to why the Albanian school student should not hold the Greek flag, as recorded in the press, were the following:

“The Albanian school student cannot hold the Greek flag because he belongs to a traditionally hostile country. Besides, in case of war, for which country would he fight – Albania or Greece?”

“Albanians are oppressing Albania’s Greeks (North-Epirotes)”

“Albanians represent a danger for national cohesion. They are a potential minority…”

“Every nation has its flag… One cannot poke his nose into another’s national holiday; it is simply not his business…” (To Vima, 30/10/2000). [Sometimes anti-racists also support this position.]

“… Albanian nationalism is changing the borders in the Balkans, it treats the North-Epirotes violently […] while in Greece the labour market has been disrupted and huge social problems have been created because of the massive, uncontrolled, illegal immigration” (Éleftheros Typos, 30/10/2000).

4Finally, and not accidentally, we will close with the Metropolitan Ambrosios:

“Are there not enough Greeks to defend the honour of the Greek flag? Are perhaps the Albanians governing us, unnoticed?” (Ta Nea, 01/11/2000).

5Since the Cenaj incident of 2000, a survey conducted by the Greek National Centre of Social Research (EKKE) among 2,000 high-school students and teachers has shown that Albanians are second from last as to the degree of sympathy they enjoy — just before Turks. In general terms, Greek school students and teachers consider Albanian students to be harmful for the future of the country. It must be noted that Albanians constitute almost 65 % of the immigrant school students who in turn represent 10 % of the general school student population in Greece. From the above few references it is not difficult to conclude that the image of the Albanian in Greece is a pre-eminently negative and problematic image.

6In this paper, the aim is to interpret the social discontent produced in Greece by the picture of an Albanian school student holding the Greek flag in his hands. For this reason, a short overview ofthe representations of Albanian immigration by the discourse in the Greek media will be presented. The aim is neither simply to record the image of the “Albanian” nor to put forward the argument that an “invented” image produces various behaviours of social exclusion and stigmatization. What interests us most is the “meaning” of this image and how it is inscribed in society’s “imagination.” And even more important is the question: do these images serve concurrent social and cultural functions?

7In the framework of this study it is also interesting to see how old patterns of labelling and self-ascription are applied to the present, however, carrying new significances and oriented from new “requests.” Albanians are not unknown to Greeks and their new relationship, which stems from the presence of Albanian immigrants in Greece, has an earlier Balkan background. From this point of view we could say that the presence of Albanians is at once old and new for the Greeks. For this reason I think it is important to focus on an event such as the flag-bearing incident, because on the one hand it marks an unprecedented situation created in Greece from the presence of Albanian immigrants. On the other hand, it reveals the reaction of Greek society to this presence (which is both old and new), along with new patterns of inclusion and exclusion, new ways of classifying otherness, new ways and strategies of labelling “otherness” based on nationality. This “otherness” is no longer outside, but rather, inside the national borders of the country.

Media, public and otherness

8First, since we refer to the media and the way the media reflects and projects self-identity and Otherness, a short analysis of the way it operates is indispensable. There are two main approaches in this matter. The first claims, like Patrick Champagne, that:

  • 1 M. Wieviorka, Le racisme. Une introduction (1998), p. 115-116.

“… people think they learn what happens in the world. In reality […] they simply learn what happens to the newspaper.”1

  • 2 N. Demertzis, Ο λόγος του εθνιϰισμού [The Discourse of Nationalism] (1999), p. 382.
  • 3 P. Willies, Common Culture (1990), p. 36-37.

9Close to this approach is a theory which is largely premised on the idea of a total absence of public. In this context, the public is approached almost as an empty room furnished with images and reality, as represented by the mass media.2 The second approach puts forward a more dynamic role for the public. According to the latter, the public have a variety of choices on how to react to the pictures that engulf them. Here, the influence of the TV does not depend on the programmes, but on the outcome of a creative relationship between the viewer and what he is watching.3 However, in both cases, the main question has to do with the impact of the mass media. As the area of impact is the most difficult one to define, which of the two approaches should we accept as being closer to “reality?” Maybe we can accept neither of the two theories in their extreme versions, as the whole situation is much more complex, and does not obey the explanatory logic of an unique model. As Demertzis underlines:

  • 4 N. Demertzis, op. cit. (supra, n. 2), p. 383.

“The treaty (condition) that governs the impact of the media is exceptionally complex and dynamic. It is a relational dominating treaty (condition): the public is not passive and prone towards the unconditional manipulation. However, the media have the power to impose issues of public confrontation and to influence decisively the recipients regarding issues about which they do not have experience or for which they can hardly shape a concrete representation.”4

10However, in our case the relation between mass media and national identity is of great interest. Undoubtedly, the above relation is real and powerful. It could not be otherwise since for an important part of the population of our planet the answer to the questions “Who are we? Where do we belong?” continues to be given principally in national terms. Here we are again confronted with the question of the reciprocal impact between the public and the media. Nevertheless, we can define some “minimal” criteria as for the extension and the intensity according to which the media today affect the process of construction, reconstruction, and/or deconstruction of national identities depending on the complicity of certain vital factors:

  1. The contexts of national incidents. Under “normal” conditions, the media transmit or discuss issues of national interest that are very different from the issues discussed under conditions of emergency, when negative stereotypes of the “National Other,” fantasies of national supremacy and government propaganda often pervade the public discourse.

  2. The open or closed character of the communication system. In societies where the communication system is state-centric and institutional autonomy of the media has not been completely ensured, the media often rely on official sources in order to inform the public about national issues, whereas official ideologies referring to “national honour” or “national shame” almost monopolize the public discourse. On the contrary, in an open and pluralist system of communication there is always space for more rational and less ethnocentric arguments.

  3. The extent of competition of the media. Private radio/television news tends to be dramatic in style, aiming principally at drawing the attention of listeners/spectators… Thus, particularly during periods when serious national events take place, television channels especially tend to adopt a way ofpresenting the news with the aim ofimpressing and awakening emotions. At the same time, because they are antagonistic, they use almost the same news material — thus leaving the viewers without serious alternative information (even when radio/television has already been “liberated” from government control).

    • 5 Ibid., p. 377-379.

    The role of nationalism. The position that nationalism occupies in the political culture of the country plays a decisive role: whether it is the positive or the negative national stereotypes that define the way the news are presented depends on the type of nationalism that predominates in the country in question… In the context of a political culture of tolerance and moderation, the impact of the above-mentioned stereotypes on the style and analysis of the news presentation is reduced. With different conditions, they constitute the main (and often an unique) way of representing the “Other.”5

The image of Albanians in Greek media: a short review

11Albanian immigrants in Greece first made their appearance at the beginning of the 1990s. For the first time in the 20th century the media and public discourse in Greece had to deal with the issue of “aliens” on Greek territory. In media discourse, the appearance of Albanian immigrants was combined with a proliferation of representations of ‘otherness’ in the Greek press. Despite some differences between populist and non-populist press, generally speaking the “Albanian” is represented and stigmatised very harshly. The most “common” images — usually interwoven — of the “Albanian immigrant” are:

    • 6 M. Wieviorka, op. cit. (supra, n. 1), p. 95.

    The “Albanian” as the pre-eminent representative of crime. He commits unprecedented crimes. The violence of those crimes is disproportionate compared to the “profit” he draws from them. He kills for very little money. For him, human life has a minimal value. Often, the criminality of Albanians is not presented as an “event” caused by special conjunctures – social conditions – but mainly as a cultural “heritage.” Especially in the first period, Albanians are very visible on the urban scene (as a wild or exotic presence) except at the place of work. In our view, this is not only because they are “illegal workers,” but also because “immigration is not anymore an issue of work, but of population,”6 as has been underlined by Stephane Hessel referring to France.

  • The Albanian as an “invader” and as a “traditional enemy.” He is usually presented as a conscious agent, aiming at disrupting the Greek nationality/sovereignty (by creation of a minority) and social cohesion. An important role in fixing the image of the Albanian as a “traditional enemy” and “invader” was played by the mounting tension in Greece around the issue of North-Epirus, especially before 1995, although this had been part of the national imagination long before the Albanian immigrants arrived in Greece. Moreover, a very important role was played by the tense political relations between Albania and Greece. The Kosovo crisis and the intervention of NATO in Kosovo was an occasion to “discover” the true “nature” of Albanians as an external and internal danger and as enemies. In no case should we forget what we previously noted: The way the mass media portray “national identity” depends on several factors, and especially on the conjuncture of national events: under “normal” conditions the media focus on different issues of national interest than under conditions of emergency. In the latter case, public discourse is usually permeated by negative stereotypes of the “national Other,” and fantasies of national superiority and state propaganda.

    • 7 E. Balibar, I. Wallerstein, Φυλή, Έθνος, Τάξη. Οι δοφοϱούμενες ταυτότητες (1991), p. 35 [Race, Nati (...)

    The Albanian as a representative of “absolute otherness /difference” and as unassimilated. From the very beginning a very strict, if not absolute, dividing line was drawn between the “Albanian” and the “Greek.” Apart from the coupling criminal and ungrateful Albanians vs. honest and hospitable Greeks, there is also the pair Albanian persecutors vs. North-Epirotan victims. Often the crimes of Albanians are vested with a national dressing: their targets are the North-Epirotes. In Greece, Albanians murder North-Epirotes while in Albania they brutally oppress them, because they want to kick them out of their ancestral lands. The North-Epirotes thus become the true representatives of homogenized and idolized “Greekhood.” The criteria for drawing the distinction between “Albanians” and “Greeks” are not so much racial/biological as ethnic/national, with the concepts of “History” and “Civilization” playing a prominent role. Here we find the phenomenon identified by Etienne Balibar as “racism without races.”7 According to Balibar, in cases of “racism without races” the hardcore of the discourse does not concern biological inheritance but irreducible cultural differences. At first sight, underlines Balibar,

  • 8 Ibid, p. 36-37.

“It (the discourse) doesn’t preach the superiority of some groups or peoples over others, but “only” underlines the damage provoked when the borders between [human groups] are cancelled. It puts emphasis on the incompatibility of (different?) ways of lives and traditions.”8

  • 9 P.-A. Taguieff, La force du préjugé. Essais sur le racisme et ses doubles (1987), p. 13.

12This is how Balibar describes what P. A. Taguieff calls “differential racism” (racisme differentialiste).9

Cenaj’s case: “civilization” as “nature”

13Moreover, in our case we find the following reasoning: there are categories of people who differ one from the other in an absolute way. These categories are incompatible and also incomparable. Yet the problem is not restricted to the difference or incompatibility of the “Other,” it also touches upon the bad ways in which he differs. At a second stage, people who belong to this particular category and differ in bad ways are unfit for assimilation. And in the end, they are “unfit for civilization.”

14In all the above “processes” – as well as in the case of Cenaj – the strategy of stigmatization and exclusion is achieved through what Taguieff calls the “déréalisation de l’individu,” meaning the process of

  • 10 Ibid., p. 316.

“dissolution of individuality into a collective entity, the only entity with a real existence that could be characterized as permanent: ‘race’, ‘nation’, ‘culture’/‘civilization’, ‘mentality’, ‘people’ etc […] The type is a fate […]. The individual has no other choice than being an appearance of the type… ”10

  • 11 E. Balibar, I. Wallerstein, op. cit. (supra, n. 7), p. 36.
  • 12 At the same time, external “marks”/ “somatic stigmas” of the Other — as Balibar defines them — play (...)

15In terms of Balibar: “the behaviour of individuals and their ‘faculties’ cannot be explained by their blood or their genes but by the fact that they belong to historic civilizations.”11 “History” and “Civilization” serve as an “a priori way of confining individuals and groups in a genealogy, in definitions of immutable and undisputable descent.”12

  • 13 Ibid, p. 42.
  • 14 As Jean Hersch underlines “Those who have the power do not have the feeling of belonging to a parti (...)

16However, underneath the approach of absolute difference we find the concept and practise of hierarchy. On the one hand, civilizations are approached as different one from another in absolute terms, and on the other hand, historical civilizations are classified in two main categories: “some are universal and progressive and others are irremediably particular and primitive”.13 Les jeux sont faits ! [The game is over !]14

Producing the absolute difference, suppressing similarities

17At this point I would like to take my analysis a step further. Upon a closer reading of the Greek newspapers of the first half of the 1990s one can notice that the words “migrant” and “expatriate” in Greek have a special sentimental weight which is not easily dealt with in media discourse. When an article referring to the past of Greek migrants in America is published in the Greek press, comparing their situation with that of Albanians in Greece today (Greeks were victims of pogroms because they were collectively accused as criminals) ( “Greeks sow fear in New York” 23/03/1998 & 11/04/1998) there is a general reaction of discontent. The journalists signing this kind of article are labelled as “anti-national and antisocial elements” (Eleftheros Typos, 28/04/1998).

  • 15 A. Frangoudaki, Τι είναι η πατϱίδα μας; Εθνοϰεντϱισμός στην εϰπαίδευση [What is our Homeland? Ethno (...)

18There are analysts who claim that the appearance of Albanians in Greece has produced more than a crisis of identity — understandable from the moment homogeneity is put forward as a major national virtue — it has produced a dizziness of identity15. This was the result not of their “essential” difference but of their similarity. The historian Alexis Heraklides points out that

“detesting the Albanians and everything Albanian is (maybe) due to the pronounced interrelation and historical interaction of the two peoples, who have lived as mixed cultural groups for centuries [...] Here, it is the exact opposite of Huntington’s well known idea on the conflict of civilizations, which is true…” (Ta Nea, 16/11/2000).

19As Vasilis Bambakas points out,

“the position of absolute negativity reserved to Albanians in the Media discourse is surely connected to the fact that no physiognomic traits can be discovered in them that are distinct from those of Greeks [...] In no case do they constitute the perfect Other…

  • 16 V. Bambakas, “Η συγϰϱότηση της ετεϱότητας από τη δημόσια σφαίϱα ϰατά την πεϱίοδο της μεταπολίτευσης(...)

Finally, the “crime” of the Albanians, as overstressed in Media representations, is that they live among Greeks, irritate their repressed memories and remind them of previous moments of themselves [migrating domestically and abroad, manual/peasant labour, social order].”16

  • 17 P.-A. Taguieff, op. cit. (supra, n. 9), p. 77. Continuing in this direction it is interesting to in (...)

20Here it is important to quote Taguieff who writes that “the ‘barbarian’ is not the one who is totally different, but the one who mixes the characteristics that distinguish one group from the other, the one who incarnates the threatening lack of differentiation, the difference ‘which cannot be subsumed to the system’. ”17

  • 18 “Ethnic honour, Weber notes, is mainly encountered among the masses, because it is accessible to al (...)
  • 19 P.-A. Taguieff, op. cit. (supra, n. 9), p. 71-73.

21In this context, the perception of the Greek flag in the hands of an Albanian school student may be interpreted as “fear of degradation” as described by Max Weber. An important role here is played by resentment, the combination of ethnocentrism and class contempt. It is the phobia of ethnic/class degradation. The fear of degradation is transformed into protection of purity of racial and ethnic identity. Degradation in this case means loss of ethnic honour, obliteration of the socially visible differences between the “superior” group (that subordinates) and the “inferior” group (that is subordinated).18 What we have here, is populist racism or “popular” phobia of the other.19

22Two main logics/strategies representing the two main groups operate here:

  1. The fear of degradation, articulated by the members of the prevailing team, also victims of change, the waste of de-industrialization.

    • 20 M. Wieviorka, op. cit. (supra, n. 1), p. 96.

    The effort to keep “Otherness” at a distance by manufacturing symbolic and concrete barriers of discrimination, articulated by wealthy, intermediate and superior social classes.20

  • 21 Z. Bauman, Η μετανατεωϱιϰότητα ϰαι τα δείνα της (2002), p. 148, [Postmodernity and its Discontents (...)
  • 22 As Arendt puts it very clearly “the intruders are refused the right to be themselves in every thing (...)

23Cenaj is considered an Intruder who cancels the distance and surpasses the barriers. As Max Frisch says: always and for every one in the restless, unquiet world of modernity “identity means to refuse what the others want us to be.”21 But in the case of Cenaj, we encounter the refusal of the right to refuse (what the others want us to be).22 And the refusal of the right to refuse means the abrogation of individual autonomy. This refusal of individual autonomy has a practical function: not to allow the loss of difference/distance. Difference/distance must be solidified and perpetuated.

24At this point it is useful to quote Bauman with regard to the Intruder. The Intruder according to Bauman is a parvenu, an arriviste:

  • 23 Ibid., p. 142-143.

“somebody who reaches a place, but does not constitute part of it... Somebody who reminds the older tenants of the past they want to forget… The intruder brings with him the label of the ‘newcomer’, in order for the others to believe that his tent is eternally sculptured on the rock. The staying of the intruder should be declared provisional, so as to allow all the others to feel that theirs is eternal.”23

  • 24 The transmission of Bauman in this context does not refer to the Intruder but to the Nomad. Accordi (...)

25At the same time, somehow paraphrasing Bauman24, the Intruder is the alter ego of the old tenant (native) as

  • 25 Ibid., p. 179-180.

“the poor is the alter ego of the rich, the uncivilized is the alter ego of the civilized and the foreigner is the alter ego of the native. To be alter ego means to operate as a slop bucket for all the bad presentiments, the untold fears, the hidden self-depreciation and culpabilities which we do not want to think of. To be alter ego means to operate as… an internal devil which must be publicly exorcised, an idol which we can set fire on together with all the things we cannot repress.”25

26In this sense, the “Albanian” is the “Intruder” par excellence.

Albanians are, and must be represented as, the irreducible “otherness”

27Continuing our syllogism we must also take into account the fact that among the stigmas characterizing the Albanian, the stigma of poverty has a special weight. Poverty is not only a bodily stigma. Even in his criminality, the Albanian is characterized by a “syndrome” of poverty, wretchedness and misery, from which he cannot “escape.” As a consequence, the Albanians “usually prefer to steal worthless objects that Greek criminals don’t consider ‘worthwhile’ stealing… .” (Eleftheros Typos, 03/06/99)

28Or, “PIGS! This is the first picture catching the eye of the visitor as he enters Argyrokastro. Pigs are everywhere…” (Eleftheros Typos, 03/07/1994)

“Albanians mess up even the churches. They steal the laundry… The place where they live has been transformed into a pigsty. They sleep in the dressing rooms of the stadium, men and women together, some lying on dirty water, others standing and hugging” (Eleftheros Typos, 22/01/1991)

29Even when they are positively approached, the Albanians just “struggle for a piece of bread” and nothing else. Thus, poverty is for the Albanians something like their fate or their nature. One could say that they form part of the “Civilization of Poverty.” The “Albanian” does not just exist but must exist in the “Civilization of Poverty”. In this way, limits of social ascent for Albanians and all immigrants in general have already been imposed. If these limits are transcended, then the member of the substantiated category “Albanian” must be pushed back into the class from which he has escaped. This aspect has a clear social function which is also part — and not merely a facade — of the “cultural” function of the preservation of ethnic homogeneity and purity.

Conclusion: from Heterophobia to “Heterophilia”

30As a reaction against Odysseus, on the one hand, we have “irreducible otherness” and, on the other hand, “inferiority.” These two absolute and immutable stigmas of the “Other,” cancel out any possibility of social ascent and cultural mixture. Rather, the one reproduces and supports the other, and it is difficult or even impossible to reject one and preserve the other.

31The appearance of Cenaj was just the beginning for testing and breaking such a pattern of treating “Others.” However, as we well know, the future will be long… And it will be judged much less at the level of the mass media and much more at the level of social processes and political interventions.

  • 26 P. Gilroy, There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack (1987), p. 45-46.

32However, what is more important in the context of the thematic of labelling and classifying in the Balkans, is the change with regard to old patterns of treating “Otherness” in Greece. Cenaj’s case shows that the new pattern of nationalism is not primarily assimilationist as it was in the past, but becomes “differentialist”, which is a rather new form of approaching and classifying “Others”. Heterophobia is here expressed mainly through strategies and language of heterophilia. It will be interesting to see how these strategies will develop in the future and to see how they are articulated in the context of the individualistic model, or how they are adapted to the requirements of a consumption society where individualistic values prevail. In this context, the approach of Gilroy with regard to the new racism which “is primarily concerned with mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion” is interesting. “It specifies who may legitimately belong to the national community and simultaneously advances reasons for the segregation or banishment of those whose “origin, sentiment or citizenship” assigns them elsewhere.”26 I think it is precisely the type of case we are analysing.


1 M. Wieviorka, Le racisme. Une introduction (1998), p. 115-116.

2 N. Demertzis, Ο λόγος του εθνιϰισμού [The Discourse of Nationalism] (1999), p. 382.

3 P. Willies, Common Culture (1990), p. 36-37.

4 N. Demertzis, op. cit. (supra, n. 2), p. 383.

5 Ibid., p. 377-379.

6 M. Wieviorka, op. cit. (supra, n. 1), p. 95.

7 E. Balibar, I. Wallerstein, Φυλή, Έθνος, Τάξη. Οι δοφοϱούμενες ταυτότητες (1991), p. 35 [Race, Nation, Classe. Les identités ambigues (1988)].

8 Ibid, p. 36-37.

9 P.-A. Taguieff, La force du préjugé. Essais sur le racisme et ses doubles (1987), p. 13.

10 Ibid., p. 316.

11 E. Balibar, I. Wallerstein, op. cit. (supra, n. 7), p. 36.

12 At the same time, external “marks”/ “somatic stigmas” of the Other — as Balibar defines them — play an important role in social imagery. But also in this case, these “somatic stigmas” are projected “mainly as marks of deep psychology, as marks of mental inheritance and less as marks of biological inheritance”, see ibid., p. 38-40.

13 Ibid, p. 42.

14 As Jean Hersch underlines “Those who have the power do not have the feeling of belonging to a particular ‘race’, even to a superior ‘race’. Because they believe that they belong to the mankind. There are others who bear that particularity, which is the mark of refusal, partial or complete, of human nature. Then there are the others who bear the mark of some race, which is traced (projected) on their bodies so that every one can watch them”. J. Hersch, “Sur la notion de race,” Diogene 59 (1967), p. 127, in P.-A. Taguieff, Ο Ρατσισμός (1998), p. 164 [Le racisme (1997)].

15 A. Frangoudaki, Τι είναι η πατϱίδα μας; Εθνοϰεντϱισμός στην εϰπαίδευση [What is our Homeland? Ethnocentrism in Education] (1997).

16 V. Bambakas, “Η συγϰϱότηση της ετεϱότητας από τη δημόσια σφαίϱα ϰατά την πεϱίοδο της μεταπολίτευσης” [The Construction of Otherness in Public Discourse from the 1980s], Ph.D, University of Athens (2000).

17 P.-A. Taguieff, op. cit. (supra, n. 9), p. 77. Continuing in this direction it is interesting to investigate the hypothesis of Rene Girard according to whom the “clash” is provoked not because of existence of (cultural) difference but because of “cancellation of difference.” That is, not because of the desire to be different but due to the “mimetic desire.” In the case of Cenaj we find what Girard calls “crises of difference.” As Girard puts it, “what provokes the harsh antagonism […] between the members of a society are not the differences but the loss of differences.” Cenaj represents the Albanian who has ceased to be “accessorial” and has turned into an “antagonist.” Girard refers to Victor Turner who writes: “Structural differentiation, both vertical and horizontal, is the foundation of strife and factionalism, and of struggles in dyadic relations between incumbents of positions of rivals for positions.” R. Girard, Το εξιλαστήϱιο θύμα (1991), p. 88-93 [La violence et le sacré (1972)].

18 “Ethnic honour, Weber notes, is mainly encountered among the masses, because it is accessible to all those belonging to a community in whose values they believe. The class of the ‘poor White trash’ of the southern states of the USA, who possessed nothing and very often spent a life of poverty when there were no opportunities for free labour, were at the time of slavery the true bearers of racial antipathy — which was completely foreign to big plantation owners — because their social honour directly depended on the degradation of the Blacks”. M. Weber, Εθνοτιϰές σχέσεις ϰαι πολιτιϰές ϰοινότητες (1997), p. 51, [Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik (1924)].

19 P.-A. Taguieff, op. cit. (supra, n. 9), p. 71-73.

20 M. Wieviorka, op. cit. (supra, n. 1), p. 96.

21 Z. Bauman, Η μετανατεωϱιϰότητα ϰαι τα δείνα της (2002), p. 148, [Postmodernity and its Discontents (1997)].

22 As Arendt puts it very clearly “the intruders are refused the right to be themselves in every thing and at every moment”. H. Arendt, Rahel Varnhagen. La Vie d’une juive allemande à l’époque du Romantisme (1986), p. 247, quoted also by Z. Bauman, op. cit., p. 145.

23 Ibid., p. 142-143.

24 The transmission of Bauman in this context does not refer to the Intruder but to the Nomad. According to Bauman the most important distinction in the postmodern world is that between Nomads and Tourists. See ibid., p. 140-143

25 Ibid., p. 179-180.

26 P. Gilroy, There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack (1987), p. 45-46.


Est journaliste et docteur du département des Sciences politiques et d’Histoire de l’université Panteion d’Athènes. Sa thèse traite de la modernité et de l’altérité, de l’image des Albanais dans la presse grecque et de l’image des Grecs dans la presse albanaise. Comme journaliste, il a travaillé pour le quotidien grec Ta Nea, la radio d’État grecque, NET 105,8, le quotidien albanais Koha Jone et le Balkan Crisis Report. Il est le fondateur de l’ONG « Home of Albanian Culture ».

© École française d’Athènes, 2008

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