Πέμπτη, 27 Ιανουαρίου 2011

Thede Kahl’s book, forgone conclusions on the ''Aromanian - Vlachic identity''

~ Για ελληνικά:

We read Thede Kahl’s book, entitled "For the identity of Aromanians - Vlachs, ethnocultural approaches of a Balkan reality" .It is a publication of the Center for Minority Groups (KEMO), Athens 2009, translated in Greek by Stefanos Bοulasikis. Thede Kahl is professor of anthropography in Austria and he is, of course, member of this group (KEMO). The book is a selection of revalued articles of his, previously published in various journals or collective works. 

We will try to make some comments in a simple, not ‘incomprehensible and cultural’ language as a simple man, with the knowledge that someone, who deals with the subject for many years , could have and someone ,who adores pop culture, tradition and addresses to common readers. I could write a lot of pages, analyzing one by one the chapters of the book, however, the space of a short article is not enough, so we will just mention some "very visible" points that forced me to have my objections. 

First of all, the teacher uses the ‘scientific method’, through which he seems to have already pre-reached to conclusions and then he tries to ‘document’ them through his research. A lot of researchers act this way and they construct the material of their research according to their beliefs on the subject. Thus, most studies of scientists, like professor’s, are not convincing, because they are trying to lead to predetermined (forgone) conclusions. 
"The Vlach issue ,unfortunately, is offered for politicians and politics, propaganda and propagandists, historians and historiographers, linguists and philologists , folklorists, ethnographers, ethnologists, sociologists, social anthropologists, patriots, nationalists, chauvinists, internationalists, politicians of left and right party, , ‘conservatives’, ‘progressives’, liberals , social-communists etc., because with this issue one can ‘play’ and ‘mock’ us. All these,’away from me’!” Georgios Exarhos in his book (Ellinovlahi-Armani, tome I, p.20) states. I, absolutely, agree with him.

The same author in the same book (Exarchos p. 114), who believes that history and folklore are not national scientifically and should not serve (political or national) feasibility , he, without predetermined conclusions and without favouring to anyone , after serious investigation, vast resources and bibliography, comes naturally to the conclusion that the AromansVlachs, as Greeks they are, do not consist a particular ethnic group, nor any particular anthropological type, neither have a common and uniform language, as lexicographers, linguists etc imagine. On the contrary, they keep, from the ancient times of distant past, the specific characteristics of their social life, since they are predominantly pastoral populations in Greek and wider Greek area. And, doubtless, the mountain cradles are their ancestral homes of pre Homer years and have not been created after the descent of immigrant groups and strangers in the years of Roman and of Romany (later Byzantium). 

It is well known, scientifically and historically undeniable the fact that the Vlachs of Greece are an integral and inseparable part of Greek history and reality, as they were components of modern Greek state / nation. knowledge and use, except the Greek, of the neolatin oral idiom, with various local dialectal variants , historically has never been and does not even now constitute an obstacle to the preservation of Greek national identity, despite the occasional efforts of exploitation by various foreign organizations and countries , mainly for reasons of political expediency and in particular of creation of minority issues. 

Thus, when reading Kahl’s book, we note that the author, all the time, tries to convince us that a common Aromanian consciousness was blocked and that in recent years (17-19th century) the Aromanians-Vlachs were ‘hellenized’. He states all these deliberately, omitting the vast bibliography (literature) that refutes him. 

His intentions are evident from the very first chapter of the book (Introduction of the identity of the Vlachs). He specifically writes on pages 22-23: 
"The references to the issue of the Aromanian identity are as old as the so-called 'Koutsovlachiko issue’.Bratter’s wording (1907, page186),'Today’s Romanian propaganda is just the historical continuity of the earliest Koutsovlachic national movement Koutsovlachic' can only be interpreted as a finding of a Romance self-consciousness of the Aromanians, before the onset of Romanian nationalism. In the same work there is also reference for 'strong national consciousness' (p. 17), thanks to which they (Aromanians) seem to have survived as a single nation (people, separate from the other Balkan ones. Greek writers of the time proclaim loud, of course, a supposedly very old Greek consciousness among Armani (Kostopoulos 1989, Averof -Tositsas, 1848/1992)”. 
In our opinion, an objective and neutral scientist, simply, would expose these both views and would not use the word ‘supposedly’ (very old Greek consciousness) in the second view. A right scientist should let the reader choose whether there was a 'supposedly' very old Greek consciousness among the Aromanians of that era. If the scientist expreesed this word (supposedly), he should have to give evidence, (Thede Kahl did not prove anything. He just reffered it).

In all chapters of the book, he insists on the diversity of Aromanians / Vlachs. In the second chapter ‘Language and objectives of the early Aromanian writing’, he says (page 65) that at that time, in early 19th century (characterized by the formation of nationally defined identities, preparation and establishment of national states and official languages in South East Europe) the trend evident among the Vlachs is their participation in new-Greek culture, which explains the low number of publications in Armanian (language). He seems not to understand that the Aromanians- Vlachs had Greek consiousness!! He, probably, does not want to understand! The fact that at Moschopole already in the 18th century the Vlachs had created the ‘New Academy’ and the first printing press in the Balkans with Greek education does not move him at all! He does not even mention the words Greek Academy and Greek Printing office! (P. 64). 

At the end of this chapter, p. 104, he states: "the texts (he means texts of early written language), that we worked on here, are unknown among the Aromanians - Vlachs of south-eastern Europe. The Aromanians-Vlachs’ (from Greece) prevailed view that the Aromanian language is not written or that it has poor vocabulary, is a typical example. He is probably unaware of what Modern Greek writers and columnists (magazines and papers) wrote and said about the early Aromanian written language (N-Siokis The Aromanian - Vlachic language and the efforts of its preservation by the Aromanians emigrants (overseas), magazine ‘Elimiaka’, December 2002. Ellinovlahoi G. Exarhos, p..228-229 Athens 2001, tome one A, interview George Anthonis Bousboukis interview to G. Exarhos, 3rd Programme of Greek State Radio on 02/14/1987, etc.). 

In Chapter 5 and on pages 152-153 he states: «The Aromanian-Vlachs when speaking Greek they define themselves as Greeks, but when speaking Aromanian they hardly define themselves as Greki* ». In order to prove this, he brings an example of a woman from the village ‘Klisoura’ (in one of his interviews), who says in Greek: "Of course I'm proud that I am Aromanian-Vlach, but I'm most proud that I am Greek, I boast for this!" A few minutes later when they talked in Vlachic language, she said about her daughter: "You can’t imagine my sadness when I learned that my daughter wanted to get married to a ‘Grekos’! None of us wants to give his children to ‘Greki’
From this example the writer (Kahl) concludes: Therefore, modern Greek national consciousness does not presuppose compulsively Greek ethnic consciousness. The example he brings, in our opinion, is not convincing. Firstly, he does not seem to know Greek reality. Traditional older people in Greece did not want to marry their children to people who didn’t belong to their own environment (Sarakatsan man married Sarakatsan woman, Cretan man - Cretan woman, Pontius man - Pontius woman , etc.). They didn’t even want to marry their children to any other village except their own. The Αromanian girls were robust and sturdy and their parents selected where to marry them. 
Also, the term ‘Grekos’ had pejorative meaning (puny, ranter, poor arrogant, snob etc.) and the word Ellinas (Elasli) meant brave people, warriors etc., as it is mentioned in folk songs of village Metsovo (Noi di tut mundz him Elasli = We, people from the mountains, are Ellines = Greek). Besides, from the Schism of the Church and after, the word ‘Grekos’ acquired pejorative meaning and religious sense and meant the non Latin. (G. Exarhos, Ellinovlahi Tome A, p. 60-62). We must not forget that, until Justinian’s reign, the official language of the Roman Empire was Latin. Therefore, things are not so simple and in the way the professor (Kahl) wants to show us with the previous given example. 

At the end of the chapter, the author is revealed and he shows his real intentions. On page 162, he writes: "The Aromanians-Vlachs of Greece insist on their refusal to to call themselves a minority for those precisely reasons (*he referred to them before). But if Aromanians-Vlachs are categorized as a minority in the Balkans, the same should happen in Greece”. So, more or less, he imposes by force (so I want it) to the Aromanians-Vlachs of Greece to be called minority, while in their greatest majority they do not want to! He does not only scold them!

As far as the music-dance tradition of Aromanians-Vlachs, a subject (issue) that he deals with on Chapters 6 and 7, we would like to point out that Professor Kahl’s research aimed to prove that the songs were first in the Aromanian language and later they were Hellenized (were changed to Greek language) He shows clearly that he supports Weygand’s ‘school’. On the other hand, other scientists argue that all the songs in Aromanian language were creations of the Romanian propaganda, which is not entirely correct. The solution should be in the middle (in both languages), in our humble opinion, because there was always a bilingualism in the Aromanian folk song repertoire. As for the dance (a subject that I studied extensively), the author was merely limited to a superficial field investigation and in some bibliography (Plitsis, Dimas, etc.) without taking into account, first, the great researchers (the famous musicologist Pantelis Kavakopoulos from Epirus, Socrates Liakos from the Aromanian village Pisoderi, etc.) and second, he has not well - experienced Aromanian dance, which is very important to draw effective conclusions. 

From the information given to us, he seems not to be well aware of the Aromanian dances .On page 168 , when referring to the rhythms of their dances ,he seems to ignore the rhythm of 5 beats in which we have great Aromanian dances (Leonidas Karapataki, Vasilarhontissa, etc.). 

He also seems not to know that, in Aromanian music (which is part of Epiros music and not something different), first we have the first main theme, e.g. Sigathistos (Metsovo) in 8 beats ,then the second musical change with a shorter speed in 8 beats again, third a musical change in 7 beats (4+3 opposite of the rhythm of Kalamatianos dance) and (fourth) the melody-dance finishes with 2 beats faster in speed and briskly till the end. 

In other simple words, the dance process does not consist of one dance, but of a combination of many dances and rhythms together, the one after the other, without stop. (Source, 4th Laography Symposium of Northern Greece, Ioannina 10 - 12 - October 1979, P. Kavakopoulos scientific Communication Organic music changes in folk music, reprint edition IMXA Thessaloniki 1983). 

He does not even mention the important dances from Aromanian villages Sirako and Kalarites (Balatsos, Gianni Costa, Vulu more Vulu, Levendia etc.) and a variety of dances from all villages of Pindos .If we list them, we will need another article to write.

On page 188, he gives a reference to the repertoire of the Aromanian dances, relying on a leader of a musical company from the Aromanian village Krania of Grevena without having thoroughly studied the dances, so he makes mistakes (e.g. The dance Fragitsa comes from the Aromanians of mount Paiko-Central Macedonia and not from Grevena. Maybe the melody was in Grevena but not in the last on and a half century. It entered their repertoire in the recent years through discography, see singer Stergios Dardakulis from Palio Skilitsi, village in Veria). 

Finally, he has asked for Athena Katsanevaki’s assistance (Greek musicologist, whom he thanks (sel.181) but he shows lack of knowledge about her views of the Vlachic songs (both in Aromanian and Greek language) of Northern Pindos. In her PhD (1998, p. 390) she notes that the archaism of Aromanian-Vlachic songs with their historical background proves that the Armani-Vlachs are indigenous, very ancient Greek population. Dr Katsanevaki, in her PhD ,later supports that it is almost certain that the two languages have always alternated in Aromanian-Vlachs and the use of one or another language in their songs ,probably, never stopped completely. 

* Our note: Greek people who speak only Greek language are called ‘Grekοs’ - singular ‘Greki’-plural (by Aromanians)

-The text in Greek is written and translated in English by John Tsiamitros, teacher of traditional dances-

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