History, Identity and Culture of the Borderland Community of Tsamantas in Epirus, North-Western Greece
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Before the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in the early part of the twentieth century, nationality was not of great significance to the people of Epirus; instead, diverse elements — cultural, historical, social and spatial — combined to form the identity of local communities, which differed from each other in terms of religion and language. However, the creation of Albania, and the protracted process of delimiting its border with Greece (1913–1926), brought about differing interpretations of ethnic identity and national consciousness amongst the people of the contested territory. This paper considers how historical events, such as the delimitation of the Greek-Albanian border, can influence local identities and cultures, and how such events help us to understand the social and economic decline of the border community of Tsamantas during most of the twentieth century. It also asserts that the possible future expansion of the European Union to include Albania might diminish differences in ethnicity in the region and facilitate the re-emergence of a distinct Epirote identity and culture.