MAKING A NATION ABROAD: THE ROLE OF MIGRANT COLONIES IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ALBANIA
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This dissertation examines the crucial role of Albanian emigrants in the development of the Albanian National Movement, and the establishment of the modern state of Albania. It takes a transnational approach, by surveying the migrant networks that operated beyond the confines of government authority. It highlights the importance that the migration processes held for the development of Albanian nationalist sentiment. Albanian-speaking migrants developed ethnic self-awareness by interacting with various cultures abroad, which strengthened their ethnic solidarity among them. Albanian migrant colonies in the United States engaged heavily in efforts to help their homeland, challenging the assimilation paradigm. Instead, there are an example of acculturation: a process wherein they selectively adopted certain American elements, and used these for the benefit to their homeland. They held the United States in high esteem, and even attempted to create a government based on the American model. Due to the peculiar nature of the Albanian-speaking communities within the Ottoman Empire, where they were categorized by religion, they possessed no rights to be educated in, or to officially use, their vernacular language. Although well incorporated within imperial structures, the restrictions on the use of the Albanian language made it almost impossible to organize a coherent nationalist movement inside the Albanian speaking territories. It fell upon the Albanian migrant colonies established around the world to organize and support a unified nationalist movement. By the end of the nineteenth century, migrants stationed in Istanbul, Bucharest, Sofia, Paris, Brussels, and Egypt established cultural organizations and newspapers with the purpose of unifying the nationalist movement and spreading nationalist propaganda inside the Albanian-speaking territories. After the turn of the century, the Albanian community in the United States became the most important center of nationalist agitation. Despite facing many difficulties, as well as divisions among themselves, these migrants successfully mounted a campaign to establish the independent state of Albania, and lobbied the European Powers and, especially, the United States of America to assist in the consolidation of the newly created state.