THE VIOLENCE OF RACISM AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR MINORITY WOMEN By Malina Stankovska and Pandora Petrovska In this paper, we aim to examine the nature of institutional and physical violence against the Macedonians in Australia, borne out of racism. In so doing, a means of identifying and defining the sources of oppression which minority women such as those of Macedonian background endure are outlined. The fear which is a way of life for the Macedonians is exposed as a major factor in the “culture of silence” which pervades this people. The detuning process is central to equality issues and this is exemplified in the context of this paper. The healing process and the development of a positive collective identity and self image is only possible with the opportunity to state one's reality and to begin her story and it is for this that this paper is written. In order to understand the Macedonians it is first necessary to provide some basic background information about them and their homeland. Macedonia has existed within the present political borders of the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria and Albania since its political partition in 1913 and the Treaty of Bucharest. The ethnographic map of this Balkan region is presented, defining the area of the Macedonian speaking population. In the context of this paper, this divided nation will be referred to as the Republic of Macedonia, Aegean Macedonia (Greek dominated), Pirin Macedonia (Bulgarian dominated) and Prespanska Macedonia (Albanian dominated). It is only within the Republic of Macedonia that the Macedonian people have been free to develop as an ethnospecific nation with a recognised official language, education system, literature and sociopolitical life. The Macedonians in the other sections have at best national minority status and have been subject to systematic denationalisation. (1) The term “multistatal nation” is used by Van Den Bergbe (2) to define divided peoples such as the Kurds and Armenians, and this is also relevant to the Macedonian people. Ethnographically Macedonia exists as a “multi-statal” nation where only within the Republic of Macedonia the Macedonians have the freedom of self expression. In the neighbouring countries, they exist as unrecognised, divided minorities and commonly experience negation if they self identify as Macedonians because a “public” political identity has been suppressed by the dominant groups in their homeland. Macedonians have thus been subject to the usual power play observed between the colonizers and the colonized. Generations of racism have nurtured an “oppression culture” which has become a part of the collective psyche of the Macedonians. In order to overcome the burden of oppression culture, it is necessary to have the opportunity to tell their story without fear. The racism which envelops the Macedonian people has primarily evolved as a means to maintain territorial acquisition. Their exploitation and denationalisation has occurred via suppression of the language and identity. The use of racist ideologies in order to determine government policy is common and emerges in order to justify the domination of one group over another. We do not have to look too far in Australia's treatment of the indigenous population in terms of institutional racism to exemplify 1 this point. Until the recent Mabo legislation, Australia's indigenous people had not been acknowledged in any legal or meaningful way as having any legitimate claim to this land. Similarly, the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia have not been acknowledged as the original inhabitants despite the fact that they are referred to as “endopi” a Greek word which translates literally to indigenous. Unlike the racism of apartheid which is based on the biological premise of “I'm white, you're black, therefore I am superior to You”, the racism endured by Macedonians is more insidious. It rests on the premise that Macedonians do not exist; they are invisible, they have no language, no culture, no history, not even a name. There is therefore no need to justify any forms of racism, violence or human rights abuses. Defining the parameters of equality and evolving a feminist perspective for Macedonian women cannot occur until the ideology of racism is explained, understood and thereby demystified. Indeed, it has only recently been realised that the feminism defined in the 1960s and 70s was mainly a phenomenon of the white educated, middle class woman who had the time and oppor

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