Archive for April 2008

“Makedonski” – A Loch Ness Monster style spotting

April 15, 2008

Nationalists from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M) along with their diaspora cohorts constantly inundate internet forums and blogs with obscure references to “Macedonians” in historical texts with the implication that the authors of the texts were referring to ‘ethnic Macedonians’ akin to those who currently self describe as such.

Prior to the mid to late 19th century the descriptor “Macedonian” had no ethnic significance. It was a geographic descriptor used to describe inhabitants of the region regardless of their ethnicity. Unfortunately, in the minds of nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M and her diaspora, everyone from Alexander the Great to Gotse Delchev was an ‘ethnic Macedonian’!

An example of a nationalist who scours historical texts for any references to “Macedonians” and then posts the reference in multiple internet forums as proof for a continuous and archaic “Macedonian” ethnos is an individual who posts under the pseudonym of “Jordan Piperkata”. The following is taken from Mr. Piperkata’s website where he has taken a quote by Thomas Gordon of out context in order to imply that an “ethnic Macedonian” was spotted during the early 19th century!

 

To begin with, is it not amusing that the same nationalists who claim that the “Macedonian” ethnicity has existed in continuity for dozen(s) of centuries while dominating the demographics of the region have to resort to posting references to footnotes found in obscure 19th century accounts to support their claim of a constant regional dominance?

A few points regarding this reference:

1. Thomas Gordon goes into great detail describing the races and population groups of European Turkey. Nowhere does he mention a “Macedonian” race or ethnicity.  Why would Mr. Gordon, who documented his first hand observations of the region during the early 19th century, not describe what Mr. Piperkata and his compatriots would claim was one of the most significant ethnic groups in the region of European Turkey at the time?

 

2. Thomas Gordon categorized the revolutionary figures Diamantis, Gazzos and Kara Tassos as “Macedonians”. These people were captains of the Armatoles that fought the Ottoman Turks and it is blatently obvious when one reads the extensive descriptions of the various conflicts they were involved in that these people were not “ethnic Macedonians”. After all, would Mr. Piperkata et al. be so bold as to claim that individuals with names such as Diamantis, Gazzos and Tassos were ‘ethnic Macedonians’?

3. Makedonski, the figure who Mr. Piperkata claims that Thomas Gordon presented as an “ethnic Macedonian”, is referred to in other contemporary texts. Since Thomas Gordon does not elaborate on Makedonski’s background I will now present an excerpt from a 19th century book called the “The Secret Societies of the European Revolution 1776-1876” by Thomas Frost written in 1876. On page 67 Frost makes Makedonski’s background very clear:

From the available evidence taken from the Frost and Gordon books we can safely conclude:

1. Gordon used the term “Macedonian” as a Geographic descriptor. He used it to describe Greek revolutionary leaders such as Diamantis.

2. Makedonski was a Russian of Greek background from Macedonia as Frost tells us.

This is yet another example of a “Loch Ness monster style sighting” of a “Macedonian” in the historical literature that turns out NOT  to be an ‘ethnic Macedonian’ once the subject is put into context and the relevant contemporary literature is examined. The likes of Mr. Piperkata will continue to post references to the most obscure passages in order to lend credence to their far fetched mythical historiography which claims that the “Macedonian” ethnos is centuries old and rooted in ancient Macedon of Alexander’s era. If that was the case Mr. Piperkata would certainly not have to resort to posting obscure references to 19th century books’ footnotes in order to substantiate his far fetched claims!

Stefov vs The Carnegie Commission

April 9, 2008

In 1914 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report regarding the conduct of the nations that participated in the Balkan Wars. The report was written by an international commission that was dispatched to the region in order to investigate the actions of the Balkan armies as well as to investigate the causes of the various conflicts that took place during the wars.


Risto Stefov, who also publishes books under the name “Chris Stefou”, has used the 1914 Carnegie Commission Report on the Balkan Wars as a primary reference for many of his articles. He has written a whole series titled “Greek attrocities in Macedonia” which can be found on maknews.com

In these articles Stefov engages in a heavy dose of historical revisionism. He implies that the Carnegie Commission report describes atrocities committed against “ethnic Macedonians” when in fact the report makes no mention of any “ethnic Macedonian” population. The fact that the report makes no mention of “ethnic Macedonians” does not phase Stefov who shamelessly converts the Bulgarians the report describes into “ethnic Macedonians”. Stefov retrospectively molds the population descriptions found in the report to adhere to his nationalist historiography. He and his followers imply that the reason the report described “ethnic Macedonians” as Bulgarians was because the authors of the report were categorizing by religious affiliation. Their theory suggests that because ‘ethnic Macedonians’ attended the Bulgarian church (Exarchy) they were described as Bulgarians.

The report demolishes this theory in 2 ways:

1. The report makes it clear that those who attended the Bulgarian church were of Bulgarian nationality. If these people were actually “ethnic Macedonians” why would the authors of the report make the following statement?:

2. The report clearly states that the Serbs were amongst the first to categorize the Slavs of Macedonia as a distinct group from the Bulgarians for political purposes. The authors of the report clearly viewed the Slavic population as Bulgarian despite the claim of Serbian scholars who attempted to distinguish this group from the Bulgarians in order to diminish Bulgaria’s claim to the region:

It should be sobering for Stefov’s readers to actually read the pages of the report and to see for themselves how the “ethnic Macedonians” Stefov describes in his articles were actually recorded as Bulgarians by the international commisison. As an example Stefov goes into length describing attrocities committed in Kukush by the Greek army. This is how the actual report describes Kukush:

 Regardless of Stefov’s attempts to focus only on the actions of the Greek army in order to demonize the Greek state as much as possible, the fact is that the 1914 Carnegie Commission report also describes atrocities committed by the other combatants. As an example this is an excerpt from the report which describes the massacre of Greeks in the Greek town of Doxato:

 

The report was published during an era when the “Macedonian” ethno/national identity was still in it’s infancy stages. The report provides the reader with valuable contemporary insight into how contemporary geopolitical dynamics fostered the notion that the Slavs of the region were a distinct ethnic group. Up to the period of the Balkan Wars the Slavic population of the region was largely regarded as Bulgarian. The 1914 Carnegie Commisison report was authored by an international commission that spent time in the region. Their observations of the Slavic population of the region concurs with a vast number of other contemporary first hand accounts . Stefov and his nationalist cronies engage in a dishonest practice when they misrepresent the commission’s first hand observations and reconstruct the Bulgarians described in the report as “ethnic Macedonians”.

Implying that the Carnegie Commission failed to record what Stefov et al allege was the largest ethnic group in the region is akin to a modern international commission going into Palestine and not recording any Palestinians!

Maps and Politics

April 1, 2008

A fascinating book regarding the demographics of late Ottoman era Macedonia is “Maps and Politics: A Review of the Ethnographic Cartography of Macedonia” by Henry Robert Wilkinson. In his book, which was published in 1951, Wilkinson exhaustively summarized dozens of ethnographic maps put forth by European scholars, ethnographers and cartographers which depicted the demographics of the southern Balkans.

From the dozens of ethnographic maps included in Wilkinson’s book it is appearent that up until the late 19th century the Slavs of Macedonia were regarded as Bulgarians. The following is how Wilkinson described the process in which the Slavs of Macedonia came to be regarded as an ethno/political group distinct from the Bulgarians in the region. Wilkinson’s position surely does not concur with the mythical historiography being promoted by nationalists from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M) which asserts that ‘ethnic Macedonians’ have continuously resided in the region since antiquity.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Wilkinson’s exhaustive study and detailed analysis of the ethnographic studies pertaining to Ottoman era Macedonia resulted in his assertion that no authority depicted the Slavs of Macedonia as a distinct ethnic group from the Bulgarians until certain European ethnographers and cartographers were influenced by the politically motivated works of the Serbian scholar J. Cvijic. If “ethnic Macedonians” dominated the demographics of the regions for dozen(s) of centuries, as nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M constantly claim, why did dozens of studies and publications pertaining to the ethnography of the region fail to record what was supposed to be obvious: a significant ‘ethnic Macedonian’ population? Of course, the answer to this question is obvious to any objective historian: the “Macedonian” ethno-national identity was a late 19th century construct and no significant population affiliated with the “Macedonian” identity until the 20th century. The dozens of ethnographic maps depicted in Wilkinson’s book also destroy the theory currently being promoted on many F.Y.R.O.M nationalists websites (see maknews.com) which asserts that no Greeks existed in the pre 1912 region of Macedonia.

These are a few examples of the ethnographic maps found in Wilkinson’s book. The demographics depicted in the maps may differ from one another but what is important to note is that no “ethnic Macedonian” population was recorded.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Nationalists from F.Y.R.OM attempt to explain away these vast number of maps and surveys (including the 1914 Carnegie Report) by claiming that the authors were ignorant of the truth, and/or blinded by bias, and/or uneducated. This would be akin to a vast number of studies being published pertaining to modern Palestine and not mentioning any Palestinians!


%d bloggers like this: