Theory and Society

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 567–596

Becoming citizens of empire: Albanian nationalism and fascist empire, 1939–1943



This article uses the case of Albanian nationalism during the period of Italy’s occupation of Albania (1939–1943) to challenge prevailing conceptions of nationalism that define it primarily as a political doctrine that espouses national self-rule. Using archival research, the article discusses the nationalist discourse of Albania’s pro-Italian political and cultural elites during Italian domination and examines the discursive strategies employed by these elites in reconciling nationalism with foreign domination. Among other techniques, the article shows how both empire and fascism’s claim to universality enabled such reconciliation. More fundamentally, the article shows how nationalism’s historical power does not primarily lie in the enunciation of a political doctrine of national self-rule, but rather its constitution of the “inner” cultural sphere of the nation around the problem of split temporality, in which tradition and modernity co-exist disharmoniously. The resolution of this cultural problem requires the exercise of state power within both the political and cultural realms, a solution that Albanian nationalists saw in empire and fascism.

A small race, left in a truncated state of only one million, surrounded by enemies and in an envious geographic location, could not survive without reliance on the force and protection of a friendly nation. History, reason and patriotism counseled Albanians that before the European clash, they rely on the Italian people, and therefore it was necessary, reasonable and secure for our... redemption and national development that Albania enter into a personal union with Italy under the blessed Dynasty of Savoy.

Kolë Bib Mirakaj, Tomori, 1940

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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