Β. ΣΕΙΡΗΝΙΔΟΥ, Βαλκάνιοι έμποροι στην Αψβουργική Μοναρχία (18ος-μέσα 19ου αιώνα). Εθνοτικές ταυτότητες και ερευνητικές αμηχανίες, Τετράδια Εργασίας, 28, 53-82


BALKAN MERCHANTS IN THE HAPSBURG EMPIRE (18th-mid l9th CENTURY)ETHNIC  IDENTITIES AND  DIFFICULTIES OF RESEARCHAt the heart of this article lies the difficulty, bordering on embarassment, felt by anyone conducting research on the trade migration from the Balkans to the Habsburg Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries, when asked to formulate hypotheses about the ethnic identity of the migrants or even to use a collective term about the subjects of his/her research. The multilingualism and the similtunaeous projection of different identities by the migrants reveal a reality reflected in the sources.The article is centred on those moments when this reality is subverted: when language becomes a battlefield and the subjects adopt the offensive projection of a specific identity. Such moments can be exclusively found on an institutional community level. Conflicts that arise within the multiethnic orthodox merchant communities of the Habsburg Empire lead to their division or to the exclusion of groups from the community's administration. Through the conflicts between Greeks and Vlachs on one side and Serbs on the other in Vienna, Triest, Semlin and in Hungarian communities, that between Greeks and Vlachs in Pest and the projection of a particular Vlach identity in other communities as well as the split up of communities between Ottoman and Habsburg subjects in Vienna we can observe the emergence of language, ethnic affinity and difference of citizenship as criteria of communal cohesion in lieu of orthodox faith, professional status and common Ottoman citizenship. At the same time we can examine the economic and social dimensions of the conflicts and especially the role of language as a field in which economic and social differences are manifested. The embarassment concerning the ethnic identities of the migrants does not cease. What ultimately shines through is their functionality and their practicality as adaptive means to various socioeconomic and cultural environments, further their use and modification as vehicles of social mobility.

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