Accepted Paper:

Pensions and social tensions in Dhermi/Drimades of the Himara area, Southern Albania  
Natasa Gregoric Bon (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy o Sciences and Arts)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how monthly pensions are related to the process of construction and reconstruction of social boundaries that are important in the process of negotiation of individual and collective identities in Dhermi/Drimades of the Himara area in Southern Albania.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how monthly pensions are related to the process of construction and reconstruction of social boundaries in the village of Dhermi (official name) or Drimades (local name) and how these boundaries define their meaning. Particularly it focuses on Greek pensions that majority of elderly people of Greek minority in Dhermi/Drimades of Himara area in southern Albania receive from the Greek government. In contrast to the latter, Albanian constitution does not recognize the people of Himara area as being a part of Greek minority. This discord creates tensions in Himara where many people whose ancestors derive from this area strive to be recognized as a minority by Albanian government. This is one of the reasons - besides economical ones - for massive migration of young residents to Greece where they live and work and visit their home place only in summer. While during most of the year the population in Dhermi/Drimades does not reach more than 700 inhabitants, in summer it doubles. Those inhabitants who stay behind are pensioners and newcomers from other places in Albania who moved in the village during the time of communism and after it. Many newcomers living in Dhermi/Drimades regard Greek pensions as unjustified. They see them as creating disparities between 'fake' ethnic Greeks and Albanians. On the other hand, many of the pensioners are grateful for the social support of Greek government as their pensions are higher than Albanian ones, which they also receive. The paper illustrates how monthly pensions and their circulation create distinction between 'us' or dikimas (Drimadiotes, Himariotes, Elines, Europaios) and 'strangers' or ksenos (Alvanos, Turkos, Balkanos). These distinctions are vital in the process of construction, reconstruction and negotiation of collective and individual identities with differences existing not only between but also within groups.

Panel W041
Eastern boundaries, money and gender: exploring shifting locations of identity and difference on the European peripheries