Since I had a heated conversation (in Greek) about the nature and the genetic origins of modern Greek Arvanites‘ identity, I am copying here some important paragraphs about Arvanites from Wikipedia, followed by some cool video-clips of a very talented Arvanite guy, Mr. T. Kemos, who seems to be free of all nationalist prejudices, celebrating his Balkan, Greek and Arvanite identity. Mr. T.Kemos, this guy, is sometimes AS good as Borat!
more videos in: http://del.icio.us/omadeon/youtube+Arvanites
They settled in Greece during the late Middle Ages and were the dominant population element of some regions in the south of Greece until the 19th century. Despite their origins, Arvanites have traditionally self-identified as Greeks, and in modern times have largely assimilated into mainstream Greek culture.
Many of them became bilingual and culturally assimilated to the Greeks. Arvanites also held positions in many Greek Orthodox churches. In 1697, Michael Bouas and Alexander Moscholeon not only chronicled their positions in the Greek Orthodox Church of Naples, but they also professed their Greek identity.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Albanian-speakers of Epirus constituted a prominent element in the establishment of the effectively independent state of the Souliotes in the mountains of Epirus, which resisted Ottoman domination.
In 1899, leading representatives of the Arvanites in Greece, among them descendants of the independence heroes Botsaris and Tzavelas, published a manifesto calling their fellow Albanians outside Greece to join in the creation of a common Albanian-Greek state.
During the 20th century, after the creation of the Albanian nation-state, Arvanites in Greece have come to dissociate themselves much more strongly from the Albanians, stressing instead their national self-identification as Greeks. They are reported to resent being called Albanians.
At some times, particularly under the nationalist Metaxas dictatorship of 1936 – 1940, Greek state institutions followed a policy of actively discouraging and repressing the use of Arvanitika. In the decades following World War II and the Greek Civil War, many Arvanites came under pressure to abandon Arvanitika in favour of monolingualism in the national language, and especially the archaizing Katharevousa which remained the official variant of Greek until 1976. This trend was prevalent mostly during the Greek military junta (1967-1974).
While Arvanitika was commonly called Albanian in Greece until the 20th century, the wish of Arvanites to express their ethnic identification as Greeks has led to a stance of rejecting the identification of the language with Albanian as well. In recent times,
- ^ Botsi (2003: 90); Lawrence (2007: 22; 156)
- ^ See Biris 1960, Poulos 1950, Panagiotopulos 1985, Kocollari 1992, Ducellier 1994.
- ^ Some authors, particularly Biris (1961), have likened the medieval Arvanitic migrations to that of the ancient Dorians. Some Greek authors go one step further, and have proposed theories that link the ultimate ancestors of the Arvanites with pre-Greek «Pelasgians» (Kollias 1983), or relate Arvanitika with Ancient Greek. These views have no echo in mainstream modern scholarship. The «Pelasgian» view was fashionable in Greece in the 19th century and was then applied to Albanians in general. It was used to claim autochthonous status and hence historical affinity with the Greek nation, since at that time Greeks wished to win the Albanians over for the formation of a common Greater Greek nation state (Gounaris 2006). «Pelasgian» theories are currently still propagated by the largest association of Greek Arvanites (Αρβανιτικός Σύνδεσμος Ελλάδος,  and ). Other Greek authors have proposed an ancient Greek identity of the settlers based on their supposed Illyrian-Epirote ancestry.
Gefou-Madianou, pp. 420-421. «Those speakers of Arvanitika who were living in or near the capital came under greater criticism since their presence allegedly embodied the infection that contaminated the purity of the ethnic heritage. Thus, some decades later, during the dictatorship of August 4, 1936, the communities of Arvanites suffered various forms of persecution at the hands of the authorities, though during the 1940s their position improved somewhat as their members helped other Greek soldiers and officers serving in the Albanian front. Later, during the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, especially during the years of the military junta (1967-74), their lot was undermined once more as the Greek language, and especially katharevousa during the junta, was actively and forcibly imposed by the government as the language of Greek nationality and identity.»
- Travellers in the 19th century were unanimous in identifying Plaka as a heavily «Albanian» quarter of Athens. John Cam Hobhouse, writing in 1810, quoted in John Freely, Strolling through Athens, p. 247: «The number of houses in Athens is supposed to be between twelve and thirteen hundred; of which about four hundred are inhabited by the Turks, the remainder by the Greeks and Albanians, the latter of whom occupy above three hundred houses.» Eyre Evans Crowe, The Greek and the Turk; or, Powers and prospects in the Levant, 1853: «The cultivators of the plain live at the foot of the Acropolis, occupying what is called the Albanian quarter…» (p. 99); Edmond About, Greece and the Greeks of the Present Day, Edinburgh, 1855 (translation of La Grèce contemporaine, 1854): «Athens, twenty-five years ago, was only an Albanian village. The Albanians formed, and still form, almost the whole of the population of Attica; and within three leagues of the capital, villages are to be found where Greek is hardly understood.» (p. 32); «The Albanians form about one-fourth of the population of the country; they are in majority in Attica, in Arcadia, and in Hydra….» (p. 50); «The Turkish [sic] village which formerly clustered round the base of the Acropolis has not disappeared: it forms a whole quarter of the town…. An immense majority of the population of this quarter is composed of Albanians.» (p. 160)
- ^ Θ. Κ. Πίτσιος. “Ανθροπωλογική Μελετή του Πληθυσμού της Πελοπονήσσου: Η Καταγωγή των Πελοπονησσίων.” [«Anthropological Study of the Peloponnesian Population: The Ancestry of the Peloponnesians»] Βιβλιοθήκη Ανθροπωλογικής Εταιρείας Ελλάδος. Αρ. 2, Αθήνα, 1978.
- ^ Pitsios, Theodoros (1986): «Anthropologische Untersuchung der Bevölkerung auf dem Peloponnes unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Arwaniten und der Tsakonen». [«An anthropological study of the Peloponnesian population, with a special focus on the Arvanites and Tsakonians»] Anthropologischer Anzeiger 44.3: 215-225.
According to the anthropological studies of Theodoros K. Pitsios, Arvanites in the Peloponnese in the 1970s were physically indistinguishable from other Greek inhabitants of the same region. This may indicate that either the Arvanites shared extant physical similarities with other Greek populations or that early Arvanite groups extensively incorporated parts of the autochthonous Greek population.
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