27 / 2008
Nataša Gregorič Bon

“Where are we? Europe or Albania?” Regionalism as Seen by the Local People of Dhërmi/Drimades in Southern Albania

This paper illustrates and explains how the villagers of Dhërmi/Drimades in Southern Albania envision and shape “their” place as a distinct region in relation to the European Union’s regional policies. Special attention is given to the local discourses about the inclusion and/or exclusion of the village space into and from the European Union, which is often referred to by the notion of Europe or Europi/Europa. The paper aims to explore the ways in which local people construct their regional identity and how they discuss it in their everyday lives. It questions the influences of historical, social, cultural, political and economic changes in postcommunist Albania on people’s perceptions of modernity, which they axiomatically link with “Europe” or the “West”. The paper argues that the local people of Dhërmi/Drimades negotiate their social and spatial boundaries and thus reconstruct their regional identity and belonging through debates about modernity and modernisation.
KEY WORDS: regionalism, modernity and modernisation, social and spatial boundaries, Southern Albania