The discursive construction of multiple identities of the Albanian (Arvanitika) speakers of Greece

Lukas D. Tsitsipis

Abstract

This paper addresses the complex issue of negotiating identity among minority speakers of Albanian in modern Greece as surrounded by and interacting with major societal forces and dominant ideologies stemming from the Greek nation-state. Some of the theoretical questions related to the very concept of identity are also discussed. The major thrust of the paper is focused on a discursive construction of a shifting identity formation on the part of minority community members who often anchor their identities by means of an indexical machinery rather than by explicit propositional self-identification. This means that, even though they frequently label themselves Albanian (Arvanitika) speakers and foreground various kinds of symbolic contrasts to the dominant culture and ethnicity, they also perform an identity by referring to themselves as “we” which allows more room for negotiation and for the blurring of rigid boundaries that are frequently erected around an ethnolinguistic group in our analytical jargon. I argue that this identity management is to be expected in conditions of late modernity in which no schemes, modes of existence, and ideological views are taken for granted, and in which one has to cope with challenges emerging from macro-centers of control. In such a process reflexivity at the local level looms large questioning the inherited understandings of this and related phenomena as easily classifiable sociologically and sociolinguistically.

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