Friday, October 30, 2009

We need History Lectures based on FACTS not political motives! (The case of the so-called 7th Conference on Macedonia Studies at Utah.)

First of all I want to apologize from my bad English grammar. As native Macedonian [1] my mother language is Greek and not Slavic as the postmodernists [2] professors that participated in this Conference claim arbitrarily.[3]
In November 5-8 2009 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City took place the so-called "7th Macedonian-North American Conference on Macedonian Studies".[4] Although a number of presenters strictly deal with subjects of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, there are politically motivated lectures that attack and disparage the people of Greece, the Greek Cultural identity and as they twist historical facts through their disturbing presentation. These motivated lectures are influence under the umbrella of the Slavmacedonism [5], a post-modern ultra nationalist ideology.
In American universities today not everyone knows what extreme Slavmacedonists are doing in their ....

classrooms/conference/lectures or even if they do know, they choose not to ask questions. Ordinarily if someone has a theory that involves a radical departure from what the experts have professed, he or she is expected to defend his or her position by providing evidence in its support. But no one seemed to think it was appropriate to ask for evidence from the professors who claimed that the Slav Macedonians of the FYROM have any kind of connection with the ancient Macedonian civilization.
Normally, if one has a question about a text that another instructor is using, one simply asks why he or she is using that book. But since this conventional line of inquiry was closed to us, I have to raise my questions in a more public context.
A lecture at which serious questions could not be asked, and in fact were greeted with hostility--the occasion seemed more like a political rally than an academic event as this that will take place in Utah. Arthur Schlesinger says in “The Disuniting of America” that the purpose of history is to promote not group self-esteem, but understanding of the world and the past, dispassionate analysis, judgment and perspective, respect for divergent cultures and traditions, and unflinching protection for those unifying ideas of tolerance, democracy, and human rights that make free historical inquiry possible.
Slavmacedonists supporters have suggested many ways to revise the teaching of European history and science.[6] But if diversity does not apply to truth, then there are limits to academic freedom. That does not mean that we should try to keep students from knowing about erroneous theories or hypothetical possibilities, or from reading works like the Macedonians Slavs and the connection with the ancient Greek culture or the Slavic idiom that speak Greeks and Slavmavedonians is the same with the creation of the Slav Macedonian language that had as aim to de-Bulgarize the Slav Macedonians and create a separate national consciousness.[7]
But lectures that are designed to conceal a considerable body of evidence, or that are intended to instill resentment and distrust in place of open discussion, have no place in the academaic curriculum. I believe it is essential for all of us to realize that some action needs to be taken. It is not simply a matter of doing justice to the ancient Greeks and their modern descendants. Universities must encourage free inquiry and debate, and not permit the classrooms/conference/lectures to be used as a means of political indoctrination. Even more important than that is our obligation to teach history, history that can be supported by warranted evidence and not in half evidence.

As Pr. Mary Lefkowich points out the teachers of course need to have freedom to experiment and to test new theories and interpretations. But academic freedom does not give us the right to rewrite history without reference to the known facts—even if by doing so we imagine that we can bring about social improvement. The scientists among us, for example, do not have license to falsify data to achieve desired results. If a scientist in the "hard" sciences does so, he or she is disciplined and even dismissed. It is often more difficult to distinguish between false and true in the writing of history, but it is still usually possible to establish at least the broad outlines, and to give a clear account of the available evidence. Historians do not have the right to invent their own narratives or to misuse evidence.[8]

The November 5-8 University of Utah in Salt Lake City conference was a new link in the Slavmacedonism chain. The opposite opinion in this one-side conference was forbidden.The re-invention of history has been the selected terrain of action. The dispute is not a question of survival and grandeur but an issue of challenging territorial stability. This has led to the extreme position of discarding Slav origin and labeling it as a "derogatory term", an "insult". It is indeed dangerous not to cut ties with the Slav past because this brings the country closer to Bulgaria. At the same time it is convenient to baptize Bulgarian national heroes "Macedonians", to deny the Bulgarian origin of the language spoken, to usurp Greek history and to suppress Bulgarophilia and Grecophilia within the country. A visit to Vergina, Pella and tens of archaeological sites in Greece would be enough to ridicule those who suggest that ancient Macedonians spoke Greek because it was a fashionable thing to do. In effect what some suggest here is that ancient Macedonians did not speak their mother tongue but a "foreign language".

The finally questions that rose in my mind as regards in any kind of such is revisionist conference are:

(a) The ancient Macedonian culture was invented from the Greeks or the Slavs ?
(b) How you segregate a Greek Macedonian identity with a Slav Macedonian one?
(c) Utah University administrators ought to ask whether we need historical lectures basing on facts or in political motives ?

Thanks for your timing.

[1]- A Macedonian according to several sources [], [], [Oxford English Dictionary] is a native or inhabitant of the (Ancient or Modern) Macedonian region. Any usage diffrent from this that give from the dictionaries has political and ambiguous motives.


[3]-One of them is the Linguistics professor and Balkan Studies scholar Victor Friedman that portrays Greeks as a most undemocratic and oppressive nation, from ancient to present time, and places the role of Greece in the Balkans in a most negative light. The core of his arguments seems to lie in what he considers suppression of multilingualism and minorities in Greece, which he associates with the current dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the name of the latter country. Scholars and academics invited Dr. Friedman to debate his views in the Hellenic Electronic Center/Professors' Forum*, but he declined their invitation. For more details see “Ime romeos e xeuro plus glose Fazio degli” (

[4]- Post-modernism is a form of skepticism combined with self-consciousness. Its adherents believe that no historical narrative can be considered authoritative, because writers always have political motives, whether they are aware of them or not. For the post-modernist, the past is more problematic. Though nations are modern and the product of modern cultural conditions, nationalists who want to disseminate the concept of the nation will make liberal use of elements from the ethnic past, where they appear to answer to present needs and preoccupations. The present creates the past in its own image. So modem nationalist intellectuals will freely select, invent and mix traditions in their quest for the imagined political community. For more detail see the works of the Anthony D.Smith.

[5]- Slav-Macedonism(also call as Macedonism and pseudo-Macedonism) is the political idea prevailing in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which utilises historical revisionism to establish links between an ethnic group that formed in the 20th century - ethnic 'Macedonians' - and historical events and figures of the 19th century and Middle Ages. For example, Bulgarian Tsar Samuil, despite the overwhelming evidence, is portrayed as a "Macedonian" king. Further attempts are made to deny the Hellenic nature of the ancient kingdom of Macedon and to seek connections between present day ethnic Macedonians and the Ancient Macedonians. Unfortunately for extremist Macedonists , history bears witness to the fact that in the early 1940s the Bulgarian inhabitants of Vardar Macedonia were transformed into "Macedonians" for political reasons by communist dictators (Tito, Stalin, and Dimitrov) and infamous communist organizations (Comintern and the Balkan Communist Federation ).

[6]- The ROSETTA STONE and the Tendov-Boshevski Controversy by Miltiades, Phoebos and Hephastion Bolaris.[ ]

[7]- “Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question” by Stephen E. Palmer, Jr. Robert R. King, 1971.

[8]-History Lesson, a race odyssey, Yale University Press, 2008

UPDATED:10 Jan 2010

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