30 / 2009
Nataša Gregorič Bon

Constructing locality and property in Dhërmi/Drimades, southern Albania

The paper concentrates on the meaning of “rootedness” or locality in one of the southern Albanian villages, Dhërmi (official, Albanian name) or Drimades (local, Greek name) and question its relatedness to land and property. Nowadays with the process of privatisation which often involves land conflicts the meaning of locality is becoming conditioned with individual claims for land ownership. The paper illustrates how the villagers who are “on the move” negotiate, manage and contest their locality through which they seek to ensure their ownership and property and vice versa. Based on the fourteen months of fieldwork in the mentioned village I particularly focus on the returnees who own the tourist facilities on the village’s coastal plain and the emigrants who continue to regularly return to their natal village Dhërmi/Drimades. I argue that when expressing their feelings of locality and belonging, people continuously reconstruct their past in order to reassure their present, reconstitute and corroborate their ties to the land, create order to control their own labour, products and income and negotiate their sense of mastery.
KEY WORDS: migrations, return migrations, locality, property, land tenure, postcommunism, southern Albania