Contests of heritage and the politics of preservation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, K. S. Brown

Local consequences

Perhaps the single most important historical site within the Republic in Yugoslav days was Krushevo, a town of around 3,000 people, mostly Macedonians and Vlachs. It has retained its significance today. Krushevo became a significant populated settlement in the eighteenth century when Vlach refugees from the city of Moschopolis fled to the area. Although they remained Ottoman subjects until 1912, the inhabitants were able to purchase the land on which their town was built as a result of the tanzimat reforms in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1900 it was one of the richest towns in the Balkan peninsula. The church of St Nikolas was the seat of an Orthodox bishopric and boasted an iconostasis that was ranked with the best in the region (Ballas 1962 [1905]).

In 1903, Western Macedonia was the site of an armed uprising against Ottoman rule and Krushevo was the seat of a provisional rebel government. The town was quickly recaptured by Ottoman forces and sacked: over 150 houses were burned, as well as the church. Although many people left to make homes elsewhere, the church and many houses were rebuilt. Because of the symbolic significance attached to the Ilinden Uprising by the new regime of Yugoslavia and Macedonia after World War II, the town in its entirety was designated a spomen grad a memorial town. Partly as a consequence of this designation, although some building programs were undertaken in the town centre, much of the town remained as it had been. Tito visited the town in 1969 and within a few years the road up from the valley had been improved, a ski-lift added at one end of the town and, in 1974, a monument at the other. On the basis of research conducted in the town during 1992 3, I offer a speculative archaeology of three particular sites in the neighbourhood of Krushevo. These are based largely on the narratives given by people of the town when asked about history. The parameters according to which they constructed their narratives reveal very clearly the kind of connection that space and architecture has with the recollection of the past, as well as the continual processes of construction and destruction at work on the material of a town.

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