'I Am Muslim but I Am the European One'

Contextual Identities among Muslims from Western Macedonia in Everyday Practices and Narratives

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

Muslims have been present in the Republic of Macedonia for more than five hundred years, yet they remain constantly under discussion. Contemporary Muslims negotiate various ethnic or national identifications and differently evaluate their past. Moreover, while many Macedonian Muslims migrate to Western Europe and thus engage in transnational practices, many of them are trying to place themselves between what they conceive of as 'modern-European' and 'religious-traditional'. In this essay I present some of the everyday practices and narratives in which Muslims from the western part of the Republic of Macedonia discuss their religious identities. Based on my ethnographic fieldwork, I describe vernacular perspectives on 'Muslim identity' in relation to nationality, ethnicity, gender and local tradition, and I analyse the ways in which different modes of identifications are being performed and presented. By illustrating various contexts in which Muslim belonging is being emphasised and labelled by social actors, I envisage its symbolic meanings in perspective of local and global hegemonies.