“When You Go There You Become Someone Else, When You Come Here You Become Again Another Person; Wherever You Go You Are Nothing”: Exploring Identity at the ‘Borderlands’

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Eleni Konidari, University of East Anglia


    How is (non) national belonging experienced by those who are living at ‘the borderlands’ of conflicting nationalisms? Back in 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne specified a forced population exchange and defined the borders between two nation- states at birth after mutual massacres; Greece and Turkey. However, the former Muslim Ottoman populations, which resided in Western Thrace have been exempted from the exchange; people whose language and religion were identified with the new nation state of Turkey after the territorial rearrangements became Greek citizens. Based on an ethnographic study I conducted in 2012/13 in Western Thrace and drawing on Gloria Anzadua’s (1987) understanding of ‘the borderlands’ I analyze how people from the Western Thrace minority community find themselves between what I term their ‘stepmother’ land Greece and their motherland Turkey, how they experience a double non belonging to both and how they ‘return home’ in the literal and metaphorical borderland of their community in Western Thrace. In the Balkans, national belonging tends to be expressed as either/or however, my research revealed that is not always experienced as such.