Protests against monuments: redefining heritage and nationhood in Macedonia
Goran Janev (Sts Cyril and Methodius University Skopje)
Paper short abstract:
Months of revolting by painting over the facades of power, installed recently by the right-wing nationalists in Skopje, Macedonia, unpacked the abuse of heritageization, cultural and urban commons, and democracy itself in a highly diverse society that is forcefully homogenised and consequently divided.
Paper long abstract:
Right-wing nationalists, in power for the last ten years, at the beginning of the second decade of 21st century decided to erase socialist past from the urban landscape. Twenty years late, political elites in Macedonia engaged headlong to remake the symbolic order, to redefine the heritage, social and architectural, and to redefine the cultural identity of the country. The process is known as "antiquisation", for the bold imaginative effort to provide continuity with ancient Macedonia of Alexander the Great and to disregard almost everything in between as communists' social engineering project. The Macedonian spring, four months of unceasing civil protests, were named "Colourful revolution". Each evening protesters were colouring another object built or redecorated in the last period by the ruling party. Challenging the new ethnocratic symbolic order, protesters challenged the political order, engaged in re-appropriation of the public space and by unpredictable movement by and through police barricades, challenged the entrenched and fixed landscapes of nationalist glory that defies the reality of a mixed and highly diverse society. After brief introduction to the socialist and modernist heritage and the newly installed nationalist 'instant' heritage that aims at erasing everything built before, in this paper I will discuss the emergence of new civic, inclusive discourse that embraces diversity. Months long protests finally reconfigure Macedonia towards true democratic society. The resistance against the ethnocratic narrative spaces was evident before the protests, but direct targeting confirmed the rejection and different aspirations of Macedonian citizens and reassessment of the recent past.