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joi, 22 iulie 2010

Armânji the hidden minorities

The Armânji are not officially recognized by the state as minority neither in Greece nor in Romania. Moreover they tend to identify themselves with the majority population in the states they live which made possible a sort of assimilation in such majority populations regarding religious believes.

As it is mentioned above the two countries dont recognize Armânji as a minority, but an emphaisis should be made here on the Greek case as they dont generally recognize the presence of national minorities within their boundaries. Armânji in Grece are considered Vlach-speacking Greeks (though this definition is problematic as minority languages are not recognized either).

Greek vs Romanian identity

It is common knowledge that Armânji in Greece identify with the Greek nation and the explanation lies in the Ottoman millet system which divided the empire`s population according to religious affiliation. This, in time, lead to a inclusion of the Armânji population into the Greek Orthodox Church. This assimilation was a voluntary one, as a way of adapting to the created context and later on was materialised in the fact that many Armânji supported both ideologically and financially the aspirations of the Greek nation.

Next to different historical and social events, it is my belief that the emigration north (mainly Romania) was made possible by the type of assimilation process employed by the Greek state and in the identification process of the Armânji. It is exactely this identification process that didnt went that smooth as the Greek authorities hoped. And it came as a result of the Greek state assimilation policies which ment refusal of recognition of both minority status and minority language.
This gave Romania the opportunity to interfere and support native schools. Such actions could not be tolerated by the Greek state, who used a „divide et impera” strategy preffering the Hellenized Armânji against the others. This actions generated a split in the Armânji comunity between Hellenized Armânji and the pro-Romanian Armânji which later on resulted in a migration of the pro-Romanian Armânji to Romania (or at least out of Greece).

Identification as a negation of identity?

Both Greece and Romania emphasised on this identification of the Armânji with the majority of the population and offered this as a argument for the denial of recognising Armânji as a national minority.

What I want to outline here is that such a voluntary association does not imply in any sence that the identity is negated. The Greeks already made that mistake and as I said above that prepared the ground for a pro-romanian attitude. Apparently they didnt learn yet. In the same situation it seems Romania acts exactelly as Greece did and still does.

What both Greece and Romania fail in such a situation is the understanding of the nation and the incapacity to combine the ethnic and civic features. As one can be a Greek/Romanian citizen (fulfill his duties towards the state), but in the same time keep his identity as Armânji.

Should one wonder in such a context if Armânji will abandon the artificially created identification (with Greece State or Romanian State)?
Should one wonder in such a context when Armânji demand what is rightfully theirs, to be officialy recognized as a national minority?

International context

The survival strategy adopted by the Armânji community up to now managed to preserve their separate identity in the sence that they needed to hide it (thus converting in hidden minorities). Nevertheless the current situation – mainly the assimilation process and the urbanization – puts the perpetuation of the identification under threat.

What may save the downgrade trend is the international context that seems to favour the endorsment of minority rights and respect for minority cultures. My guess is that this is probably the last chance for minorities such as Armânji to save their identity. This is why it is crucial for them to continue the cultural revival trend. Also it is important that they dont make mistakes in order to compromise it.

3 comentarii:

  1. This is a chance for you to rise as a leader and unite all armanji on Romanian soil.

  2. And I hope that you will not turn into jews and armenians, throwing the blame on one or another


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