Accepted Paper:

The high wall and the narrow gate: Albanian borders at the margins of europe  

Author:

Gilles de Rapper (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

Based on data collected on the Greek-Albanian border, my paper addresses the issue of the transformation of Albanian borders since 1991. It is an attempt to understand how local inhabitants are reacting to this transformation. It also seeks to understand in what way it calls for the mobilisation of new resources and representations by local people.

Paper long abstract:

Based on data collected on the Greek-Albanian border, my paper addresses the issue of the transformation of Albanian borders since 1991. After a long period of confinement within their nation state, Albanians have experienced the 'opening' of Albania's borders and started to migrate towards Greece and Italy. It however soon became clear that European borders were not 'open' and that, on the contrary, they imposed limitations on crossings by Albanians.

In the borderlands of Southern Albania, from where people attempt to go to Greece, other processes of boundary making have occurred, in relation with Greek migration policy. Albanian citizens belonging to the Greek minority in Albania enjoy a privileged access to Greek labour market, welfare and citizenship, while Muslims are faced with difficulties to get visas and cross the border, and, once in Greece, with racism and discrimination. Between those two extreme categories other groups are locally known in relation with the border, which, from a 'wall' preventing people from escaping during communist times, has now become a 'filter', allowing only certain categories of people to cross on the other side.

By looking at daily life and individual practices in the borderland, my paper is an attempt to understand how local inhabitants react to the transformation of the border. It also seeks to understand in what way this transformation calls for the mobilisation of new resources and representations. It emphasizes the plurality of practices of the border as well as the different levels at which people experience the border.

Panel W047
The new Europe: the politics of recognition, inclusion and exclusion