In This Review

The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World
The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World
By Loring M. Danforth
Princeton University Press, 1995, 273 pp

The drained observer who has followed the Yugoslav calamity from the early confrontation over Slovenia through the Serbo-Croatian conflict to the Bosnian war may not want to know that there is more. But farther to the south, another corner of the former Yugoslavia offers its own invitation to trouble. Macedonia, the marbled ethnic terrain that Tito formed into a republic, not only contains potential conflict within, but passionate detractors like the Greeks without. The argument is not about contested borders, the wrongs of war, or precious resources, but who has the right to call themselves Macedonian and what people can claim the name Macedonia for their nationhood. It's an old argument, but suddenly again fanned nearly to flame.

Danforth, an anthropologist, takes one through the ferociously juxtaposed claims and counterclaims, and he explains why the issues set people off with such intensity by fitting the case into modern anthropological thought about national identity, ethnic nationalism, and the role of culture. To this he adds some interesting reflections on the role played by distant diasporas, having studied in-depth the impact of the important Macedonian and Greek communities in Australia and Canada. Danforth struggles mightily to maintain his scholarly detachment amid one of the more explosive topics in the universe, and for the most part he succeeds. Still, one gets the impression that he has less tolerance for the extremist claims of Greek nationalists than for the other side, perhaps not least because Greece's treatment of its own Macedonians has over the years been less than admirable.