The Pseudomacedonian Indoctrination at UKIM University in Skoplje

ukim2In relation to problem of Pseudomacedonian indoctrination, a particular importance is occupied by the system of university-grade education in FYROM. While the irredentist themes within textbooks and programs for primary and high education have been scrutinized and publicized, the form of education which is quite important through the fact that historians within FYROM’s national sciences are produced domestically with few exceptions, was left out from any serious analysis.

Skoplje’s public “St. Cyrill and Methodius” University (UKIM) via its Philosophical Faculty (FZF), country’s most important institution in the process of production of historians, classical philologists and archaeologist, most important professions dedicated to exploring and revealing the past, including the matters of ethnicity and cultural identity. Due to the fact that private research on matters of national identity regarding the genesis and ethnic anthropology of peoples historically present in FYROM is  forbidden by the 1996 Law for scientific-exploring activity (“zakon za naučno-istražuvačkata dejnost“), article 16, which reads:

“The approval (for performing public scientific work-V. G. ) can be given for all areas designated as a public interest in scientific-exploring activity, with the exception of scientific research in the area of historical and cultural identity of the Macedonian people and the nationalities which live in the Republic of Macedonia, defense and security. ”

Added to this draconian, totalitarian enslavement of free thought, designed to keep the state monopoly over the nationally important sphere of identity study is the fact that the state institutions, to which the aforementioned law gives a monopoly over the process are not only funded by the budget, but have their managers (“direktori”) appointed by decree. It is axiomatic that this configuration of the circumstances breeds conformism, inefficiency, rigidity and consequently, sustained dogmatism. Subservient to the politicians, university postgraduates remain firmly tied in Big Brother’s iron mold, having no chance to get support for projects outside the politically-imposed correct collectivist thinking. The political line is clear on this matter: a “Macedonian” ethnicity of a non-Greek type emergent in Balkan Neolithic period exists. It is completely culturally, anthropologically and linguistically in a category of its own. It is destined to dominate the ancient fatherland, partitioned in 1913 by the evil neighbors which had no ethnic and cultural presence in the region, nor was their action legitimate. This is the official, sacrosanct and all-pervading mythology of the young Balkan nation.

External scholars of Balkan affairs, classicists, archaeologists, byzantologists, slavists and all others focused on region’s culture, history and politics disagree firmly. Yet their voices of protest over the farce are not mentioned in FYROMian media. Their books, articles and other publicized works are not available in bookstores and public libraries in FYROM. Programs for study abroad are expensive in relation to local standard, at least for most students. Only few of those who study abroad take a curriculum in humanities. As a result, for anybody aspiring towards a carrier in history and for those who find this profession which offers little financial award, yet provides intellectual stimulus as few others, the only path is enrollment in UKIM. Neither the University of Monastiri/Bitolj nor  other private educational institution do offer programs in the science of historiography.

The FZF of UKIM issues a eclectic guideline for each curricula containing the University’s statute and regulations, practical general advice and a program, divided by study subjects. The program for each subject is left to the chair-holding professorship’s discretion, however the entire course is planned centrally. A brief review of the plan for four-year study of history as exposed in the UKIM’s current official guideline (“Priračnik-institut za istorija-nasoka arhivistika“ Skopje 2004) follows:

1. “History of Ancient Macedonians” is one of the 31 subjects during the program, studied in the first year. A tendency to separate Macedonian from general Greek history is immediately noticed. The section “Celi (lit. “Targets”) reads:
“Students should understand the historical processes (ethnogenesis, socio-economic relationships, the political system, the religion and the culture, as well as the contribution of the Ancient Macedonians to the human civilization) with the target of gathering a historicistic consciousness necessary for understanding of the contemporary (sic) historical processes  as well for the proper understanding of all types of sources which can be found among us”.

Apart from the usage of the word “ethnogenesis”, which is out of the place in relation to the phyllogenetical study of tribal and politically separate units within the same ethnic group, in this case the Hellenic one is puzzled by the usage of the phrase “sources. . [. . ]. . found among us”. Is this to be understood in terms that only historical sources-recognizing their primacy within the theoretical framework in the historiographic sources-only the quantitatively small part of Macedonian sources found in the southernmost parts of FYROM have any relevance whatsoever to the history of Ancient Macedonia and Macedonians? Regarding the statement that “the understanding of the contemporary historical processes” is the only reason why Ancient Macedonian history is studied today-so that one can be professionally equipped to cover the gaps of 900 years from Alexander the Great’s death to the arrival of Slavs and the subsequent gap of 1400 years to the first idea of separate “Macedonian” ethnicity with falsified abrogations-the observer finds unintentionally humorously, but truly expressed reality.

2. The list of basic bibliography (“osnovna literatura”) contains only 6 books, among which are:
Proeva, N. “Studii za antičkite Makedonci“ (“Studies about the Ancient Macedonians”), Skopje, 1997. This is rather strongly polemically-worded statement about the different nature of the Ancient Macedonian from the Greeks from the current holder of the chair at the faculty. Several highly specific properties of Ancient Macedonian language and the religious cult are used as a starting platform for deconstructionistic differentiation of Macedonians from Greeks over 300 pages. Similarly, both listed 1960’s studies by Fanoula Papazoglu, historian and classicist from Monastiri/Bitolj which spend most of her career in Belgrade (“Middle Balkan Tribes in Pre-Roman Times” and “History of the Hellenistic Period”) contain the typical for the era lack of definite statement on Macedonian ethnicity, and while extremely valuable in all other aspects, cannot be held as a source of direct knowledge about the issue.
Inclusion of the book “Demosthenes” by P. Carlie in FYROMian translation puts a too heavy spotlight on this protagonist of ancient History. The motive here is to put emphasis primarily on Demosthenes usage of anti-Macedonian rhetorics in his comment against the political clash between Macedonia of Phillip II and Athens for leadership in the Greek world.
The bibliographical sections lists 7 works by ancient authors translated in Serbian and Croatian language among which the only body of works translated in FYRO Macedonian language is-unsurprisingly-a collection of speeches by Demosthenes (Demosten, “Govori”, trans. Danica Čadikovska, Skopje 1995).

3. The Greek history is treated separately in the subject „History of the Old Age“ together with the cultures of the Fertile Crescent. Here, the influence of the discredited archaeological-historical paradigm Ex Lux Oriente formulated by the British Marxist Scholar Gordon Childe is visible. Out of 4 monographs mentioned in the guideline for the second part of the course Carlie’s biography of Demosthenes is mentioned again (!). Fixation with the ancient rhetorician by FYROMian scholars is obvious.

The blunt segregation of the Ancient Macedonian history from the general Hellenic one fortifies the impression in the student that these two entities should be viewed separately in an ethnological  sense. Left without a proper bibliographical guidance, the caricature of which contains mostly suitable collections of sources and politically-correct foreign monographs, the student is being mislead at the formative academic years. Overt usage of FYROMian and South-Slavic language books also raises suspicion. The rest of the program puts a heavy emphasis on the medieval and 19th/20th century history of the Geographic Macedonia (an ahistorical and geotechnical concept whose northern borders are set quite further than those of Macedonia proper). Furthermore, synthethic (in contrast with more topical) published material from the Communist era often carries not only the baggage of wrongful statement on the Macedonian problematic proper but employ a broad set of devices to fashion a monist (and thus fluid) materialistic-deterministic, economistic and quasipositivistic worldview , quite often laid out in a descriptive and didactic fashion. True knowledge about Macedonia, its development as a territorial and political concept, its Greek ethnological and anthropological character eludes the student. Tragically, this is the place where future generation of FYROMian historians, those patron-saints of ethnic identity in its modern and political context learn their craft. What was a world of their past, its idiosyncratic character left within confines of a hermetically sealed educational process grows in UKIM in a more elaborate, rich and detailed scheme. The interplay of awakened distant ages will, however , continue with its disharmonious, cacophonous sound , having no truthful meaning , in the next phase: creation of dogmatic and sanitized “truth” for internal purposes in a variety of genres: primary and secondary textbooks, lexicons, atlases, encyclopedias. These are widely available forms of expression against which most rigid standards of conservation within the dogma are set. Classic monographs and articles are products for which slightly more liberal circumstances for creation in the spirit of science and rigorous scholarship is in existence. But, even here, within the almost paramilitary structured state institutions, the difference is one of small quantity, not quality.

FYROMian writer, the Bulgarian nationalist Mladen Srbinovski called the neighborhood, where the State Archive, the s. c. MANU (“Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts”), the Institute for National History (INI) are located, “The institutional belly of Macedonism” in his essay “Turbo Makedonija” (“Turbomakedonija” in “Obedi ništožnost“, Skopje 1999). He could have added UKIM, too. Perhaps the  striking metaphor would have gained even greater potency.

Situated right to the bulevard “Aleksandar Makedonski”, UKIM, under the shell of gray brutalist architecture encloses the corridors of totalitarian misery, libraries of PC decrees disguised as literature and teaching halls where the “virtue” of conformism is forced with an iron hand of the Big Government. It is an institution that cannot in itself teach anything about truthfulness, self-discipline, aspiration towards excellence which are values through which any enthusiasm results in quality and productivity. For maximum efficiency, those FYROMians who cherish history as it is should strive toward autodidactism, mastery of several global languages and reliance on sources and non-FYROMian literature. Although UKIM is nominally autonomous, strong mechanisms of factual dependence to the government of FYROM in general, and on the actual Pseudomacedonian leadership set in particular are in existence, mutually reinforcing each other. Nevertheless, Skoplje’s university is bound to its mission which is cherished by all  institutions of its kind belonging to the European tradition: to stand above politics, to espouse principles leading to proliferation of science and increasing the sum of knowledge and the capability to act upon it.


One response to “The Pseudomacedonian Indoctrination at UKIM University in Skoplje

  1. What can I say, this article was revealing indeed…..

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