Gábor Demeter and Krisztián Csaplár-Degovics
Social Conflicts, Changing Identities and Everyday Strategies of Survival in Macedonia on the Eve of the Collapse of Ottoman Central Power (1903–12)
The present study aims to identify certain social dividing lines, fractures and motivations that accelerated the rise in political murders and everyday violence after the Ilinden Uprising. The contribution of foreign intervention (including both the attempts of the great powers to settle the question and the propagandistic activity of neighboring small states) and local traditions (customs) to the nature and extent of violence are also investigated. The authors will also consider the shift in the support policy of neighboring small states from construction to destruction—including the issues of economic benefit and local acceptance at a time when selection of an identity no longer entailed only advantages, but imposed threats as well. During this period the boundaries between the various types of violent action triggered either by religious and school conflict or customs gradually faded, while Chetas became highly organized and self-subsistent through cultivation and smuggling of opium and tobacco and expropriation of state and private property. In order to trace the territorial and cultural patterns of violence as well as specific and general motives, the authors conducted a statistical analysis of quantitative data regarding victims and perpetrators.
The study is based on the comparison of Austro–Hungarian and Bulgarian archival sources in order to check the reliability of data. The study area—the Sanjak of Skopje in Kosovo Vilayet—is suitable for examining problems related to the birth of modern nations: the ethnic and religious diversity of this sanjak makes it possible to investigate both the tensions that existed within and between the Eastern Orthodox and Muslim religious communities as well as the impact of small states with territorial pretensions on this region.