Albert Doja

Albert Doja
Université de Lille · Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Professor

About

106
Publications
41,585
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857
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Introduction
My research interests combine politics of knowledge, anthropology of symbolism and religion, intercultural communication, interethnic relations and international migrations, ethnicity and nationalism; international politics of hegemonic representations; comparative politics of identity transformations; anthropology of politics and history; political-anthropological theory, structural analysis, post-structuralism and neo-structuralism.
Additional affiliations
September 2011 - present
Université de Lille
Position
  • Professor
Education
September 2003 - June 2004
Paris Descartes, CPSC
Field of study
  • Sociology and Anthropology
September 1989 - June 1993
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Field of study
  • Social Anthropology

Publications

Publications (106)
Article
Full-text available
L'objet de cet article porte essentiellement sur l'éventualité de nouvelles démarches qui puissent intégrer dans l'étude des idéologies et pratiques religieuses des approches pluridisciplinaires, tirant profit non seulement des interprétations historiques et ethnographiques, mais aussi des considérations sociolinguistiques et philologiques, psychan...
Article
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In this article, the author focuses on the speculative literalism and typologism in current scholarship to construct a taken-for-granted view, taking issue especially with many points raised in the literature on the subject that have associated fertility rates in Albania more closely with the existence of patriarchal cultural traits. This leads the...
Article
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Claude Lévi-Strauss is one of the greatest interdisciplinary writers of the twentieth century whose influence extends far beyond his own discipline of social anthropology. His inquiry illuminates the borderlands between ‘primitive’ and non-primitive, self and other, myth and history, human and animal, art and nature, and the dichotomies that give s...
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This article introduces the socio-anthropological concept of international representations to examine the relationship between a civilizational rhetoric, the West European and the international politics of otherization and containment of Southeast Europe, and an essentialist and timeless bias in international relations theory, including both radica...
Article
Full-text available
To explain war rapes in former Yugoslavia, the work of cultural ideology is never complete, but an unstable relation between cultural activism and cultural norms and practices provides the point of departure to move beyond the stereotyped accounts of mass rapes and develop a neo-structural model of canonical formalization based on discourse analysi...
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In this article, I examine early religious literature in the Albanian language in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which, in combination with ecclesiastical rivalries and a differential opposition to Ottoman rule, must have promoted an inherent cultural process of differentiation, especially between Greek-speaking and Albanian-speaking Ort...
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In this paper, I show how some strands of contemporary Western scholarship in Albanian studies reproduce substantive empirical and methodological flaws and perpetuate imperial attitudes and othering stereotypes. In particular, I level a number of criticisms at what I refer to as the New German-speaking School of Balkankompetenzen that has colonized...
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The ambition and proposal for data modeling of myths presented in this paper is to link contemporary technical affordances to some canonical projects developed in structural anthropology. To articulate the theoretical promise and innovation of this proposal, we present a discrete-event system specification modeling and simulation approach in order...
Article
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In this article, we adopt a socio-anthropological approach to understand how hegemonic international representations are constructed in the politics and theory of international relations, specifically how Southeast Europe is perceived in West European imagination. We focus on various forms of travel writing, media reporting, diplomatic record, poli...
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Among the numerous stellar thinkers, whose contributions over the past century had revolutionary impacts upon the theoretical foundations of anthropology, there is almost none comparable with Claude Lévi-Strauss. In this review article, a critical argument is presented against some recent grandiloquent and single-minded narratives of his work and l...
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This paper presents a modeling and simulation approach in order to perform a generative analysis of folktales aimed at validating Claude Lévi-Strauss’ theory and method. To this aim, a discrete-event simulation is proposed. The simulation is based on the development of a set of discrete-event models dedicated to generating a set of folktales from a...
Article
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Claude Lévi-Strauss, the founder of the structural revolution in anthropology, passed in October 2009. In the decade after his death, we are presented with a significant number of successive publications that celebrate both his work and life and the ever-lasting public engagement of his heroic anthropology with problems of the modern world. This ex...
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In this article, I explore the importance and passion for historical reconstructions by means of media events and public representations. To this aims, among other illustrative examples, I take issue with the celebrations to mark the legacy of Emperor Constantine to Christianity among Southeast European peoples, including Albanians. Similar celebra...
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In this article, we explore the ways in which from the beginning to the end of twentieth century different temporalities and historicizations stemming from different narrative perspectives on the Balkan wars have constructed different commonplace, timeworn and enduring representations. In practical terms, we take issue with several patterns of narr...
Article
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In this paper given to Harvard CES community in the framework of my appointment as a Visiting Research Scholar, I outline a personal account of a theoretical path toward a specific research project and scientific method to map some burning contemporary societal issues. It is aimed to represent an important take on social epistemological and anthrop...
Book
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Një dorë manushaqe të egra për mendime të thella në studimet shqiptare. Askush nuk ka shkaktuar më shumë shkëndija intelektuale për të nxitur me kaq elegancë imagjinatën e re kërkimore shkencore në Shqipëri. Shkrime të zgjedhura në 60-vjetorin e lindjes. «I dashur zoti Doja, ju keni një njohuri të plotë dhe bëni një prezantim të thelluar... Edhe n...
Article
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In this article, we explore various forms of travel writing, media reporting, diplomatic record, policy-making, truth claims and expert accounts in which different narrative perspectives on the Balkan wars, both old (1912–1913) and new (1991–1999), have been most evident. We argue that the ways in which these perspectives are rooted in different te...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this article, we explore various forms of travel writing, media reporting, diplomatic record, policy-making, truth claims and expert accounts in which different narrative perspectives on the Balkan wars, both old (1912–1913) and new (1991–1999), have been most evident. We argue that the ways in which these perspectives are rooted in different te...
Article
Full-text available
Identitäts- und Religionspolitik sind in Südosteuropa eng miteinander verflochten. Historische Themen wie das Vermächtnis Konstantins des Großen, sein “Mailänder Edikt”, das Verhalten der katholischen Kirche während des Kommunismus und das Verhältnis der Orthodoxen Kirche von Albanien zu Griechenland prägen stark die öffentlichen Diskussionen. Dies...
Article
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In the standard folkloric and ethnographic tradition of Albanian studies, various efforts to seize an authentic, traditional and popular culture, supposed to have really functioned in a society of official ideology, were devoted primordially to a catalogue of descriptivist and empiricist research, which only served to confirm the ultimate goal of c...
Article
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In this paper, the author aimed to contribute to the debate about hegemonic relations between the West European “cores” and southeast European ‘‘margins,’’ by showing the links between mutually challenged and engendered quasi-anthropological traditions in the totalitarian projects of nation-building and empire-building. New aspects of a continuous...
Preprint
Full-text available
This article introduces the socio-anthropological concept of international representations to examine the relationship between a civilizational rhetoric, the West European and the international politics of otherization and containment of Southeast Europe, and an essentialist and timeless bias in international relations theory, including both radica...
Article
Full-text available
In the standard native tradition of Albanian studies, descriptive and empirical research has only confirmed their own ultimate goal of constructing national specificity and a particularly antiquated view of national culture. In this article, I show how and why an articulate analysis of the main intellectual traditions and their impact can provide f...
Article
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In this paper I will show how and why the exploitation of North Albania, in particular at the beginning of the twentieth century by a group of German-speaking writers, mostly Austro-Hungarian and Prussian scholars with a strong interest in Albania and its history, and then again at the end of the century by a new generation of German-speaking schol...
Article
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In the standard traditions of both folklore studies and child psychology, descriptive and empirical research has only confirmed that lullabies and play songs are either a part of children’s lore or a means of caregiving. In this paper I show how and why a socio-anthropological analysis of infant-directed singing, including ideas and themes represen...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper I aim to contribute to the debate about hegemonic relations between the West European "core" and Southeast European "margins", by showing the links between mutually challenged and engendered quasi-anthropological traditions in the totalitarian projects of nation-building and empire-building. New aspects of a continuous resonance will...
Chapter
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This paper stems from a question on the rise of anthropology in the Southeastern “margins of Europe” during socialism, formulated with an invitation to give a presentation at a conference organized by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale (Germany) in March 2011.
Article
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In the standard tradition of both Albanian studies and Western scholarship, including either any interested religious and political activism or less ‘interested’ lay people, endeavours of historical and textual fact-finding have been relevant only to re-confirm and indeed perpetuate the very meaning of a myth, according to which the thinking of Nai...
Book
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De l’organisation sociale aux discours et pratiques qui construisent la notion de personne chez les Albanais, en passant par les relations interethniques et les dynamiques interculturelles des valeurs morales dans l’ensemble des Balkans, l’auteur trace le parcours de ses recherches sur les processus symboliques qui structurent les identités sociale...
Article
Full-text available
In standard Albanian studies and Western scholarship, including both the work of religious and political activists and that of less ‘interested’ lay people, historical and textual fact-finding efforts have only confirmed and indeed perpetuated the myth that the thinking of Naim Frashëri was formed and dominated by Bektashism and that his ‘Albaniani...
Chapter
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Lors d'un entretien télévisé sur le métier d'anthropologue, accordé en mai 2011 à TV-SCAN, une chaîne de télévision nationale en Albanie, je me suis concentré sur ma trajectoire de carrière personnelle afin de tracer en quelque sorte le développement de l'anthropologie dans un pays d'Europe du Sud-Est à l'intersection des traditions d'Europe occide...
Chapter
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De l'organisation sociale aux discours et pratiques qui construisent la notion de personne chez les Albanais, en passant par les relations interethniques et les dynamiques interculturelles des valeurs morales dans l'ensemble des Balkans, l'auteur trace le parcours de ses recherches sur les processus symboliques qui structurent les identités sociale...
Preprint
Full-text available
De l’organisation sociale aux discours et pratiques qui construisent la notion de personne chez les Albanais, en passant par les relations interethniques et les dynamiques interculturelles des valeurs morales dans l’ensemble des Balkans, l’auteur trace le parcours de ses recherches sur les processus symboliques qui structurent les identités sociale...
Article
Full-text available
Ky artikull eksploron mundësinë dhe interesin për të analizuar historisë semantike të termave të fjalorit të institucioneve që shërbejnë për të shprehur nocionet e nderit dhe besimit. Kjo analizë mundëson një qasje krahasuese në perspektivën e ndërthurur të antropologjisë historike dhe gjuhësore që mund të jetë themelore për të kuptuar raportet ndë...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to explore the ethnographic-linguistic nexus used to express institutions and concepts of honour, belief and trust, which can prove to be crucial for understanding social values of morals and religion. To designate notions of religion and belief Albanians use terms which indicate the moral values of honour such as oath and...
Chapter
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The Institute of Comparative Law in Belgrade launched this year a Festschrift in honour of Valtazar Bogišić (1834-1908), a jurist, law historian and folklorist. His most notable works are researches on family structure and he is primarily known as a codifier of civil law in Montenegro, which he prepared on the basis of a voluminous questionnaire. O...
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Cet article explore essentiellement l'intérêt et l'éventualité de procéder à des analyses d'histoire sémantique des termes du vocabulaire des institutions qui servent à exprimer les notions d'honneur et de croyance. Cette analyse permet notamment d'entreprendre une approche comparative dans la perspective croisée de l'anthropologie historique et li...
Article
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Pas një hyrjeje për karakteristikat e rajonit të përkufizuar si zonë kulturore dhe për përballjen e nacionalizmave serb dhe shqiptar, që nuk kanë humbur asnjë rast për t'u acaruar në çdo moment, do të përpiqem të integroj në këtë artikull qasjen antropologjike në lidhje me konsideratat historike dhe gjeopolitike mbi territorin dhe kulturën shqiptar...
Article
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Lévi-Strauss's Centennial is an opportunity to show his inextricable connections with the evolution of twentieth-century thought and what these promise for twenty-first century anthropology. In this article I argue that some essential aspects of Lévi-Strauss's theory could lay strong claim to having mapped within anthropology the philosophical para...
Article
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In this paper I explore the ways and extents to which religious identifications and affiliations become instrumental political resources for ascertaining hierarchical relations among social groups and individuals, with extensive use of gendered metaphors referring to different categories of people as whether effeminate or truly manly, and actual wo...
Book
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Expanded from the original published in: Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 7 (1), 2006, pp. 83-107. Mistikët dhe heretikët e të gjitha llojeve, që ndjekin një vijë fetare jozyrtare, herë shihen si rrezik dhe herë të tjera gëzojnë besim, në varësi kjo të zhvillimeve politike. I tillë është edhe rasti i bektashinjve. Sistemi i besi...
Book
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Revised Reprint. Original published in: _Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions_, vol. 7 (1), 2006, pp. 83-107, doi:10.1080/14690760500477919. Book-length Reprint with permission by Taylors & Francis Ltd., London
Article
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This article aims to substantiate the idea that within the contradictory strands of anti-structural critiques of Lévi-Strauss's anthropology as whether inherently anti-humanistic or metaphysically humanistic, his Rousseauian inspiration and the new humanism of structural anthropology as a human science are rarely appreciated, despite the fact that...
Article
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Në këtë artikull shqyrtoj mënyrat e identifikimit dhe përkatësisë fetare në Ballkan si instrumente politike që aplikohen për të konsoliduar strukturat hierarkike midis grupeve shoqërore dhe individëve, të cilët shumë shpesh përdorin metafora gjinore që përshkruajnë kategori të ndryshme njerëzish ose si të feminizuar ose si vërtet burrërorë si dhe t...
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Në këtë artikull shtjellohet kontributi i Claude Lévi-Strauss-it në antropologji. Lévi-Strauss e shndërroi antropologjinë në një projekt shkencor me një vlerë shumë më të sofistikuar intelektuale për të kuptuar njerëzimin sesa ç'mendohet apo sesa ka arritur më parë kjo fushë. Kontributi i tij përfaqëson rithithjen e kësaj fushe në qendrën e ideve p...
Article
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Trong các phê phán chống cấu trúc luận, sự công kích chính của tiếp cận nhận thức luận (epistemological approach) của levi-Strauss dường như bị mất, ảnh hưởng không tốt cho ngành nhân học và các ngành khoa học xã hội. Với một đặc tính bất hủ, nghiên cứu của Levi-Strauss đã gợi lại những tính cách của một số cha đẻ ngành học, đồng thời, trong mối li...
Article
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In a now much read critique, Derrida claimed to show the weakness and the supposed contradictions of Lévi-Strauss's interpretation of writing and his characterization of modern industrial society by the pathology of written communication. Lévi-Strauss is tweaked, however, for everything at odds with what is normally understood as Lévi-Straussian an...
Article
Full-text available
The system of beliefs and practices related to Bektashism seems to have corresponded to a kind of liberation theology, whereas the structure of Bektashi groups corresponded more or less to the type of religious organization conventionally known as charismatic groups. It becomes understandable therefore that their spiritual tendency could at times c...
Article
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Paradoxically at first sight, Derrida's grammatological project joined the same idea of thought-decentring that was already morally and epistemologically central to Lévi-Strauss. But recognizing that Lévi-Strauss's anthropology anticipated thinking on deconstruction and on decentration would contribute to grant it with the benefit of a gesture that...
Article
Full-text available
In a now much read critique, Derrida claimed to show the weakness and the supposed contradictions of Lévi-Strauss's interpretation of writing and his characterization of modern industrial society by the pathology of written communication. Lévi-Strauss is tweaked for ethnocentrism, subjectivism, empiricism, truism, archaism, primitivist utopia, epig...
Article
Full-text available
The system of beliefs and practices related to Bektashism seems to have corresponded to a kind of liberation theology, whereas the structure of Bektashi groups corresponded more or less to the type of religious organization conventionally known as charismatic groups. It becomes understandable therefore that their spiritual tendency could at times c...
Article
Full-text available
Heterodox mystics and heretics of any kind become sometimes dangerous and other times reliable, depending on political situations, as was the case with the Bektashis. The system of beliefs and practices related to Bektashism seems to have corresponded to a kind of liberation theology, whereas the structure of Bektashi groups corresponded more or le...
Article
Full-text available
English In the course of anti-structuralist criticism, the main thrust of Lévi-Strauss’s epistemological approach seems to have been lost, to the collective detriment of social sciences and anthropology. By its monumental character, Lévi-Strauss’s work evokes that of the founders of anthropology, whereas, by the way in which it puts in relation the...
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Every individual occupies a determined place in a chain of descent. The criteria of this determination are usually conceptions concerning physical resemblance and difference, paternal and maternal kin ties, ceremonies celebrating the birth, as well as marks and practices involving augury, prediction, divination and predestination, etc. Through thes...
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Journal of the History of Ideas 66.4 (2005) 633-650 It is sometimes claimed that Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski more or less single-handedly created modern anthropology. This may have seemed to be the case at midcentury, when Boasian American anthropology had diverged out into many specialized strands and Marcel Mauss's students had not yet made th...
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In Albanian rural society, the child was first and foremost a son, who will succeed his father, inherit from him, guarantee the everlastingness of his lineage and honour his ancestors. If the daughter is a future wife and a potential mother, polyvalent images made of the boy child the symbol of the radical transformation, of renewal and of regenera...
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Anthropological Quarterly 78.4 (2005) 917-950 The need and the necessity to represent the natural process of birth by means of a symbolic action and to organize it ritually as a cultural process of constructing personhood are inherent to all human groups, which have always sought to transmit their collective experience through their cultural system...
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In Albanian tradition, the essential attributes of the mythological figures of destiny seem to be symbolic interchangeable representations of birth itself. In addition, their mythical combat is but the symbolic representation of the cyclic return in the watery and chthonian world of death, leading, like the vegetation, to the cosmic revival of a ne...
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Studimet e specializuara fetare, të ngecura diku midis etnocentrizmit, empirizmit dhe literalizmit, sidomos në rastin e Islamit, nuk kanë sjellë ndonjë analizë të veçantë antropologjike përsa i përket pasqyrimit të suksesshëm të realiteteve praktike dhe ideologjive politike te feve. Për më tepër, ideja e popullarizuar se grupe të caktuara etnike që...
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In wide areas, including Albania, names were fixed as patronymics and family surnames, showing that their context fluctuation is related to a relative transmissible fixity which must make possible an instrumental politics in naming practice as well as the assertiveness of a kind of individual agency, especially by means of nicknames. Such an emphas...
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Review Article: Ger Duijzings, _Religion and the politics of identity in Kosovo_, London: Hurst, 2000.
Thesis
Le rapport de soutenance rend tout d'abord hommage à la qualité du dossier présenté à l'appui de la demande de l'habilitation à diriger des recherches: un mémoire substantiel, deux livres (en français et en anglais), une quarantaine d'articles publiés dans des revues reconnues, des contributions originales à des ouvrages collectifs, ainsi que de no...
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Review of Ger Duijzings, *Religion and the politics of identity in Kosovo*, London: Hurst, 2000.
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Biographical notes on contributors
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http://www.berghahnbooksonline.com/journals/focaal/abs/2004/43/FL044311.html
Thesis
Le rapport de soutenance rend tout d’abord hommage à la qualité du dossier présenté à l’appui de la demande de l’habilitation à diriger des recherches: un mémoire substantiel, deux livres (en français et en anglais), une quarantaine d’articles publiés dans des revues reconnues, des contributions originales à des ouvrages collectifs, ainsi que de no...
Article
Full-text available
Review Article Duijzings, Ger. *Religion and the politics of identity in Kosovo*. London: Hurst & New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Trix, Frances. *Spiritual discourse: learning with an Islamic master*. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press (Conduct and Communication Series), 1993.
Article
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Heterodox mystics and heretics of any kind become sometimes dangerous and other times reliable depending on political situations, as it was the case with Bektashis in Ottoman Anatolia or in early independent Albania. The historical anthropology perspective taken in this article appears helpful in revealing that Bektashism is probably the mystical o...
Article
Full-text available
The starting point for this article is the conviction that at the present time, the efforts of stability and democratization in Southeast Europe could not achieve their goal without the serious implication of local actors nor without these actors themselves making use of major reforms in the field of democracy and economic, political, and social de...
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Full-text available
The starting point for this article is the conviction that at the present time, the efforts of stability and democratization in Southeast Europe could not achieve their goal without the serious implication of local actors nor without these actors themselves making use of major reforms in the field of democracy and economic, political, and social de...
Article
Full-text available
Pour apprécier la réelle signification historique des processus successifs de conversion et de re-conversion, parmi des Albanais et d'autres populations sud-est européennes, et les soumettre à une analyse anthropologique plus effective, cet article soutient qu'ils doivent être compris en termes de la dynamique d'objectivation et de résistance contr...
Book
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Me synimin për të vlerësuar domethënien e vërtetë historike të proceseve të njëpasnjëshme konvertuese dhe rikonvertuese, në gjirin e popullsisë shqiptare dhe popullsive të tjera europiano juglindore dhe për t'ja nënshtruar ato një analize antropologjike më të efektshme, ky artikull mbështet idenë se këto dukuri duhet të kuptohen në optikën e dinami...
Article
Full-text available
Cet article part de la conviction qu'à l'heure actuelle, les efforts de stabilité et de démocratisation en Europe du Sud-est ne pourraient pas atteindre leur but sans l'implication sérieuse des acteurs locaux ni sans que ces acteurs mettent en œuvre eux-mêmes des réformes profondes dans le champ de la démocratie et du développement économique, poli...
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Full-text available
Review article on: Véronique Nahoum-Grappe, ‘L'usage polititique de la cruauté: L'épuration ethnique, ex-Yougoslavie, 1991–1995'. In Françoise Héritier (ed.), *De la violence*, 275–323. Paris: Odile Jacob. 1996. ISBN 273 8104 088.
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Full-text available
Review article: Frances Trix, Spiritual discourse: learning with an Islamic master. Conduct and Communication Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-8122-3165-6.
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Full-text available
Me synimin për të vlerësuar domethënien e vërtëtë historike të proceseve të njëpasnjëshme konvertuese dhe rikonvertuese, në gjirin e popullsisë shqiptare dhe popullsive të tjera europiano juglindore dhe për t’ja nënshtruar ato një analize antropologjike më të efektshme, ky artikull mbështet idenë se këto dukuri duhet të kuptohen në optikën e dinami...
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Full-text available
In order to appreciate die very historical significance of the successive sive processes of conversion and reconversion among Albanians and other Southeast European populations, and to subject them to a more effective anthropological analysis, this article argues that they should be understood in terms of the dynamics of objectification and resista...
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Les événements dramatiques qui ont secoué l'Europe durant dix années à la suite du démembrement de la Yougoslavie, surtout le dernier épisode retentissant qui a affronté les Serbes et les Albanais pour la paternité de Kosova, ont impliqué l'ensemble de la communauté internationale pour la défense d'un certain modèle de société et de relations entre...
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The study of religious belief, collective identity and Islamic conversion of Albanians and other Southeast European groups provokes both passion and research. The origins of Islamic conversion, its nature and its ration- ale, are still subject to academic debate, and even to ideological and senti- mental confrontation, as indeed are its consequence...
Book
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Cet ouvrage propose une analyse, du point de vue de l'anthropologie sociale, des représentations collectives et des pratiques symboliques relatives à l'enfance dans la culture albanaise. Éclairant les processus de construction identitaire et de socialisation, cette recherche débouche sur l'hypothèse que les diversités sociales, culturelles et ident...
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After an introduction toward the characteristics of the region defined as a cultural area, these articles attempts to give an historical and geopolitical overview of Albanians and their culture, asserting successively on cultural stratification, local particularisms and unity. Then, going over the history of the national movement and the formation...
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Full-text available
Les événements dramatiques qui ont secoué l'Europe durant dix années à la suite du démembrement de la Yougoslavie, surtout le dernier épisode retentissant qui a affronté les Serbes et les Albanais pour la paternité de Kosova, ont impliqué l'ensemble de la communauté internationale pour la défense d'un certain modèle de société et de relations entre...
Chapter
Full-text available
Dans la société traditionnelle l'ouverture et la nécessité de s'ouvrir aux “autres” sont sévèrement contrôlées et hautement codifiées. C'est notamment à travers une construction idéo–logique du système d'amitié qu'on s'ouvre à l'étranger en même temps que l'étranger gravite vers “nous”. Dans la perspective de la conception traditionnelle il faut co...
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Two categories of reference constitute the social organisation of Albanese society. The notion of fisi (‘lineage’) represents the first, which is typifying, segmentary and holistic, while the second, classifying, linear and individualising is represented in the notion of lisi i gjakut (‘tree of blood’). These categories do not oppose each other as...
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Full-text available
In the Albanian tradition, the name reflects both the genealogical lineage as well as a territorial membership. The name is transmitted from generation to generation, especially in the paternal lineage, generally in alternated manner. The Albanian nomination system appeals for three elements: the individual name, the individual name of the father,...

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Symmetry is perhaps one of the notions that is circulating most in contemporary anthropology, but it has not avoided misunderstandings and criticisms. Bruno Latour argued for “symmetrical anthropology” between modern and non-modern, or once-called primitive, people, which is an anthropology of ourselves in symmetry with the classical anthropology of others (Latour, 1991). Over the course of recent decades, science and technology studies have established some principles of symmetry to avoid asymmetrical studies that treat science differently from other ontologies. An anthropology based on these principles of symmetry promises to overcome not only the modern western idea of nature and society as two distinct spheres, but also the divide between modern and primitive (pre-modern) societies by framing them as collectives that integrate a different number of human and non-human beings and which construct their cosmologies around them. In addition, the idea of symmetry demands that we seriously consider the notions of dialogue and reflexivity. An ontological reinvention of the discipline seems to be occurring through the triple problem generated by symmetrical, reverse, and reflexive anthropology. Bruno Latour, along with Roy Wagner, Marilyn Strathern, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Philippe Descola, and a host of their students have been at the forefront of what has been called the “ontological turn” in anthropology in the last few years (Holbraad and Pedersen, 2017). Following the proposal of symmetrical anthropology, which was intended to “expand the range of actors” to include the “nonhuman” (Latour, 2005), the anthropologist should assume a unique “system of distribution of properties”, where the modern ontology of naturalism must be placed on the same symmetrical level as animism, totemism, and analogism (Descola, 2005). In this project, anthropology is recast to include more than the Anthropos in its scope. It would no longer be the science of humankind, but will be based on the symmetrical similarity or difference of the interiorities of “existants”, living beings, things, and spirits. The articles gathered in this Special Issue of the Journal of Symmetry intend to answer an open-ended set of questions: What happened to the project of symmetrical anthropology after the recent efforts at an ontological turn? What difference does it make to consider a multiplicity of cultures over the background of a unified nature, or a multiplicity of natures in addition to a multiplicity of cultures? How does it open up another type of scientific anthropology, no longer based on comparison but on ontological symmetry? With the proposal of a symmetrical anthropology, do the very rejection of the old dualisms of moderns and others or nature and culture run the opposite risk of reifying them anew and throwing us back into the entrenched belief in the old ontological dualities as if they really were separate wholes? By stepping aside notions of culture and meaning, and by simply replacing culture with ontology, do we risk falling back into old traps, for example, seeing other ontologies as given substances, like other cultures may once have been, instead of relational processes generated in historical events (Carrithers et al., 2010)? Starting with Boas and Lévi-Strauss, most theorization in anthropology points toward the notion that all cultures are formed in relation to external events rather than mirroring or symmetry. Lévi-Strauss once explained in his Mythologiques why myths cannot be transposed into something else, but are only “translatable into each other” (Lévi-Strauss 1971:577 [Eng.646]). Actually, they are translations or transpositions of each other at the point of boundary articulation of one culture with other cultures. The point is that neither cultures nor ontologies are separate, but they are already historically interconnected and mutually constitutive; they are, in many, ways already in common as symmetrical translations and transformations of each other. Far from a pseudo-mathematical mystification, as receivedmany Anglo-American anthropologists, Lévi-Strauss’s notion of symmetrical transformation originated in mathematics and has been well received by modern scholars seeking to study culture and society by formal means. After the theoretical regress of anthropology in the 1980s, the question is whether re-employing the structural method of symmetrical transformations could pave the way to a new symmetrical approach in anthropology.