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Albanisation (or Albanianisation) is the linguistic or cultural assimilation to the Albanian language and Albanian culture.

In Kosovo[edit]

The concept is most commonly applied to Kosovo.[1] [2][dubious ] During censuses in the former Yugoslavia, many Romani and Turks were registered as Albanian, as they identified with Muslim Albanian culture as opposed to the Christian Serbian culture.[3] Albanisation has also occurred with Torbesh people, a Muslim Slavic minority in the Republic of Macedonia, and the Goran people in southern Kosovo, who often have Albanised surnames.[4]


The term Arnautaši (from Arnauti, a historical Turkish term for Albanians) was coined by 19th century Serbian historians and means "Albanized Serbs" (Serbs who had converted to Islam and went through a process of Albanisation).[5][6] While the theory that acquired its maximal form by Spiridon Gopčević and Miloš Milojević became popular among some Serb historians, pro-Albanian advocates among historians dismiss it.[7]

At the end of the 19th century, writer Branislav Nušić claimed that the Serb poturice (converts to Islam) of Orahovac began speaking Albanian and marrying Albanian women.[6] Similar claims were put forward by Jovan Hadži Vasiljević (l. 1866-1948), who claimed that when he visited Orahovac in World War I, he could not distinguish Orthodox from Islamicized and Albanized Serbs.[6] According to him they spoke Serbian, wore the same costumes, but claimed Serbian, Albanian or Turk ethnicity.[6] The Albanian starosedeoci (old families) were Slavophone; they did not speak Albanian but a Slavic dialect (naš govor, Our language) at home.[6]

In the 1921 census, the majority of Muslim Albanians of Orahovac were registered under the category "Serbs and Croats".[6]

Mark Krasniqi, the Kosovo Albanian ethnographer, recalled in 1957:[6] "During my own research, some of them told me that their tongue is similar to Macedonian rather than Serbian (it is clear that they want to dissociate themselves from everything Serbian[6]). It is likely they are the last remnants of what is now known in Serbian sources as 'Arnautaši', Islamicised and half-way Albanianised Slavs."[6]

Between 1961 and 1981, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Albanians from Albania were said to have crossed and settled in Kosovo per invitation by Tito,[8] and Tito forbid[9] Serbs who had fled during the World War II, to return to their homes in Kosovo.[8]

In the Republic of Macedonia[edit]

Riza Memedovski, chairman of a Muslim organisation for Macedonian Muslims in the Republic of Macedonia, accused the majority Albanian political party, the Party for Democratic Prosperity, of trying to assimilate people, specially Macedonian Muslims and Turks and create an "... Albanisation of western Macedonia."[1]

In Albania[edit]

During the rule of King Zogu and the communist regime, the government encouraged Albanisation of the Greeks of Southern Albania (the territory was also called "Northern Epirus", especially among the Greeks).[10]

"Minority status was limited to those who lived in 99 villages in the southern border areas, thereby excluding important concentrations of Greek settlement in Vlora (perhaps 8,000 people in 1994) and in adjoining areas along the coast, ancestral Greek towns such as Himara, and ethnic Greeks living elsewhere throughout the country. Mixed villages outside this designated zone, even those with a clear majority of ethnic Greeks, were not considered minority areas and therefore were denied any Greek language cultural or educational provisions. In addition, many Greeks were forcibly removed from the minority zones to other parts of the country as a product of communist population policy, an important and constant element of which was to preempt ethnic sources of political dissent. Greek place-names were changed to Albanian names, while use of the Greek language, prohibited everywhere outside the minority zones, was prohibited for many official purposes within them as well."[10]

In 1967 the Albanian Party of Labour began the campaign of eradicating organised religion. Their forces damaged or destroyed many churches and mosques during this period; they banned many Greek-language books because of their religious themes or orientation. Yet, it is often impossible to distinguish between the government's ideological and ethno-cultural motivations for repression. Albania’s anti-religion campaign was merely one element in Hoxha's broader “Ideological and Cultural Revolution” begun in 1966. He had outlined its main features at the PLA’s Fourth Congress in 1961. "Under communism, pupils were taught only Albanian history and culture, even in Greek-language classes at the primary level."[10]


  1. ^ B. Allen, "Why Kosovo? The Anatomy of a Needless War", in Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 1999
  2. ^ Ruža Petrović, Marina Blagoǰević, & Miloš Macura, The migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija: results of the survey conducted in 1985-1986, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 1992, accessed 4 Sep 2010
  3. ^ N. Sigona, "How Can a ‘Nomad’ be a ‘Refugee’? Kosovo Roma and Labelling Policy in Italy", in Sociology, Vol. 37, 2003, pp. 69–79
  4. ^ G. Lederer, "Contemporary Islam in East Europe", in Central Asian Survey, NATO International Academy, 2000
  5. ^ Dietmar Müller, Staatsbürger aus Widerruf: Juden und Muslime als Alteritätspartner im rumänischen und serbischen Nationscode: ethnonationale Staatsbürgerschaftskonzepte 1878-1941, p. 183-208. ISBN 3-447-05248-1, ISBN 978-3-447-05248-1
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Duijzings, Gerlachlus (2000). Religion and the Politics of Identity in Kosovo. C. Hurst. ISBN 9781850654315. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Malcolm, Noel (2006-07-01). Anna di Lellio, ed. Is it true that Albanians in Kosova, are not Albanians but descendants from Albanianized Serbs?. The Case for Kosova: Passage to Independence. Anthem Press. p. 20. ISBN 9781843312451. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  8. ^ a b The wreckage reconsidered: five oxymorons from Balkan deconstruction, p. 101
  9. ^ War of words: Washington tackles the Yugoslav conflict, p. 43
  10. ^ a b c G97 T.J. Winnifrith (2003), Badlands-Borderland: A History of Southern Albania/Northern Epirus, ISBN 0-7156-3201-9, p. 138. Quote: "Under King Zog, the Greek villages suffered considerable repression, including the forcible closure of Greek-language schools in 1933-1934 and the ordering of Greek Orthodox monasteries to accept mentally sick individuals as inmates." and "On the other hand under Hoxha there were draconian measures to keep Greek-speakers loyal to Albania. Albanian rather than Greek history was taught in schools."
  1. ^ Greek Helsinki Monitor (2001), Minorities in Southeastern Europe - Albanians of Macedonia (available online here)

See also[edit]