The Death of Academic Honesty in FYROM: The Case of National Sciences

If any honest investigation is to be made into the question of academic competency regarding humanities in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is to be made, a theoretical definition of the ethnocentrism in humanities has to be set a priori. By definition, exercise in humanities tend to embrace the cultural phenomena specific to anthropologically established social group, many of them having the hallmarks of identity and modes of interplay resembling to a certain extent the actual ethnic groups.

The plurality of postmodern liberal conceptualization of recent times and the revival for identity studies within the globalized framework of the Huntington’s theory of “Clash of the Civilization” as the predominant leitmotiv of variety of interaction revived interest in humanities from a pragmatist perspective. In the context of miniaturized, yet sufficiently articulated as set of traditional practices and institution within a single, monolithic interrelationships of the traditional humanities in FYROM, many of
various trends regarding the aforementioned revitalization are yet to manifest themselves within the provincial sphere of productivity of the national myths of Macedonism.

Humanities in FYROM tend to be highly reflexive of the social zeitgeist that articulated itself after their inception in 1940′s. Doomed to a life of subservience to what history has demonstrated were grossly erratic Marxist doctrines, the chance of fresh start after the pluralization and liberalization promised by liquidation of the Titoist regime was soon wasted in fruitless effort to secure scholarly plausibility to the previously marginal idea of synthetic “Macedonian” history, which never existed as a coherent narrative of event which furnished the genesis of an alleged “Macedonian” nation. The typology of the phases of interaction of politics, common mentality as well as certain determinants goes\related to the development of ethnic sciences in FYROM in author’s opinion, through six phases:

The first phase encompasses the period from 1944 to early 1960′s that saw a transition from the initial didactic propagation of “Ethno-Communism, the apologetic local genre into the more analytical
application of Marxist theories of economic determinism, in context of severe split from Serbian and Bulgarian roots of humanistic investigation. At the same period, the entire infastructure represented by Faculties, Museums, Institutes was created. According to the most prominent exponent of local national studies, “the Macedonian people is product of early differentiation from other South Slavs, based on adoption of the name “Macedonia”, which facilitated a set of discrete, yet present ethnic characteristics, that came to establish the “Macedonian” people in the 19th century.

The second phase from early 1960′s to mid-1970′s, strongly supported by the Croatian historian Stjepan Antoljak, further straightened the narrative structure of the myth, enriching it with pseudoscientific
studies of middle age. Recognizing the Samuel’s state formation as the first “Macedonian” state and thus projecting the alleged continuity between the contemporary generation of Pseudomacedonians centuries
back, this mixture of politically correct doctrine based on falsification gave energy to wealth of speculations, which were massively produced with pretensions of genuine academic quality. Many
works considered magnum opus of the Pseudomacedonian history, archeology, linguistics and philology were published in that period. Assertive translation and export of the domestic material was often
met with ridicule in the Western World, but nevertheless was a way to attract more foreign scholars for the purpose of obtaining a credibility from authority.

The third phase from mid-1970′s to late 1980′s saw exponential rise of productivity and newly found interest in Paleobalkan studies, non-Marxist sociology and anthropology and publishing a number of
archaeological as well as Byzant ological works. Emphasis was for the first time put on the construction of model of ethnicity which emphasized biological and to a certain extent cultural continuity in the formation of the “Macedonian” people. While Marxist rhetorics, preoccupation with the largely fictional epical presentation of WWII and Slavic studies were represented, they had a marginalized role, especially in the process of differentiation of FYROMian academia into three camps: conservative communist, ethnocentric liberal and pro-Serbian, the latter trend having a number of adherents after 1986.

With the fall of the Titoist system and the subsequent disintegration of Yugoslavia, the national humanities of FYROM restructured themselves into two camps: the “Ancient Macedonian” group of
historians which sought a wholesale revision of the national historiography and the transformed ethnocentric liberal.

The fourth phase of historiography displayed the eclectic method of the both camps, the appearance of activity by amateur/dilettante historians which would exponentially rise in terms not only of production, but also in influence among the general public and idiosyncratic influx of greater number of approaches. These not rarely included non-sequitur and lack of polemic inclusion of multilateral views. The main trends
crystallized by mid-1990′s, adding to common outburst of national hysteria in conditions of challenged identity.

The 5th and 6th phases are two subperiods in development of the contemporary clash of adherents of several methodological approaches:

the commercial pseudoscience, often supported by sponsorship from the official academia, then the “mainstream” current based on models which propose a polymodal ethnogenesis, a school of thought which although of apparently more moderate type is nevertheless erroneous in some basic assumption that determine its lack of usability.The first phase coincide with the first government of VMRO-DPMNE, from 1998-2002 which manifested itself with several policies that modeled the development of the distinct flavor of academic thought. Among these were attempt of slow, but steady liberalization of cultural communication with Bulgaria which facilitated exchange of ideas and common projects. In terms of academy, it manifested itself with a number of works dealing with Bulgarian aspects of FYROMian history and ethnolingustic characteristics of the local Slavic population, although with strong provincial emphasis. The 2001 military conflict among local Slavs and Albanians and the implementation of egalitarian policies which strongly discouraged systematic ethnocentrism, but in practice shifted the energy of ethnocentrism into stronger emphasis of alleged exceptional ethnic character of the Pseudomacedonian population. In
addition, an autarhic development of the Vlach ethnos was furthermore emphasized and resources begun to be mobilized into the support of investigation of its ethnology which never included the Greek aspect
of this old Balkan entity. The process of De-Slavization of the history of FYROM accelerated during the revival of sociological and anthropological studies which shifted their working paradigm from
ethnocentric to liberal, with forced egalitarian themes complemented by integrative policies within FYROM. Furthermore, the “Bulgarian Spring” period was obliterated with withdrawal of official support in terms of state sponsorship, further degrading the status and eminence of the authors which stood by rationalist principles. The trend in national sciences, established with these tectonic social changes and
escalated since the 2006 elections, are the following:
1.The principle of dialectic debate is replaced by dogmatic selection of preexisting data.

2.The local school of Slavic studies is based on senior authors and lack of interest by the general public for Slavic-related aspect of their identity, insofar its members recognize such identity which often more is no more the case.

3.The Bulgarian position has a stable, but marginal support by small number of authors and remains actively opposed by a de facto governmental policy.

4.Scholarship regressed to the early false dichotomy of defending the “uniqueness” trough real and imagined arguments for defense of ethnic typology.

5.Fictional kinship with the Ancient Macedonian is vigorously defended and is outside of any polemical realm, having obtained a monopoly in perception of the plebeians in FYROM.

6.Themes of even greater, pre-Indo Europian antiquity rooted in the Neolithic era are making their occasional appearance, stirring public sentiments of ethnic supremacy.

One final observation should be made: while relatively adequately founded, the Academia in FYROM is strongly correlated with the policy makers, existing in authoritarian atmosphere in place where ethos of
critical individuality is almost non-existing. Decades of mismanagement of funds which accounts for poorly equipped infrastructure and limited access often even to capital scholarly publication together with a tendency of overproduction of cadres also contribute to the current conformism, coupled with a common,
commercially-driven outlook In conclusion, the only way to secure a restoration of FYROMian academia and restitution of the national science is formulation of a more idealist working philosophy. Cultural policy of layman education less depended on state centralism, but on grassroots activism by individuals and groups which realize the absurdity is needed and should be strategically implemented. The atmosphere of doctrinal populism is the major obstacle to the realization of capital works and communication between the intelligentsia to the people. The alternative is a stagnation and continuous isolation of those who
invested their being into liberal arts investigating the real nature of identity, but opted not for truthful formulation but for an futile exercise of creating and supporting the construct of a fictional nationality.

Skoplje, FYROM

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