Performing Identity: The Balkan Aromanians

In a historical context dominated by the ideology of the nation-state, the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), and especially the one between Greece and Turkey (1919-1922) led to the escalation of inter-ethnic conflicts and displacements of the diverse Balkan (ethnical, religious, linguistic) communities, such as the case of Aromanian communities from Greece.

Identity is a cultural construct which ensures for the participants in its community a type of existential meaning, and the most important aspect of identity is the sense of belonging that can be multiple and non-exclusive. One is not, let’s say, Greek while asleep, or taking a stroll, etc. but only in certain moments, when one assumes with a community a way of being together (speaking with a peculiar accent, singing or dancing in a peculiar way, etc.). For Aromanians, the polyphonic chants requires the invocation of common micro-histories and sharing a sense of personal relatedness or temporarily performing a way of being together.

The project questioned the problem of identity by conducting a field research in the Aromanian communities from Greece (Veria, Palaiomanina) and Romania (Cogealac), taking the form of three short documentaries that state the situation of Aromanian minorities from the Balkans. The aim was to specify experientially extant differences between the identity provided by national citizenship and the one provided by community allegiance. The project also entailed the organization of public events in Thessaloniki, Missolonghi, and Bucharest, where the documentaries were projected, followed by discussions on the situation of this endangered linguistic minority.

Vlachohoria of Aetolia-Acarnania (Palaiomanina 300 01, GR)
Short documentary, runtime: 14 minutes, made by Gregoris Douliotis and Olga Daskalis (“Diexodos” Museum – Missolonghi, Greece), 2018.

Performing Identity (Cogealac 907070, RO)
Short documentary, runtime: 19 minutes, made by Emilian Mărgărit and Elena Dobîndă (Image and Sound, Romania), with the significant help of Eliza Zdru, 2018.

Hiu Armãnu (Veria 591 32, GR)
Short documentary, runtime: 17 minutes, made by Eirini Delidaki (Thessaloniki International Film Festival – Thessaloniki, Greece), 2018.

Project manager: Emilian Mărgărit & Elena Dobîndă. Identity & communication: Elena Dobîndă. Special thanks: Eliza Zdru, Alexandru Gica. Supported by: “Sutsata Culturalâ Armâneascâ” NGO (Bucharest).
Cultural project organized by Image and Sound in collaboration with Thessaloniki International Film Festival and “Diexodos” Museum – Missolonghi (Greece), and funded by the Cultural Management Academy 2017 Project Fund and the Goethe-Instituts in Sofia, Bucharest and Thessaloniki.