Religion in post-communist Albania: Muslims, Christians and the idea of ’culture’ in Devoll, southern Albania
This paper addresses the issue of religion in post-communist Albania. It is based on ethnographic material collected in the southeastern district of Devoll in the mid-90s. Through an analysis of the role of religion within local society it attempts to question the common assumption that religion in Albania ‘does not matter’, without, on the other hand, claiming that there is ground for religious conflict or fundamentalism. In this paper, I analyse the relations between Muslims (who are in majority in this district) and Orthodox Christians by looking at local ideas about ‘culture’. This category, which should be understood as ‘civilisation’ or ‘education’, appears as a way to classify people and religious communities: Christians are generally granted more ‘culture’ than Muslims. The aim of this paper is to understand the meaning of such statements about the level of ‘culture’ of Muslims and Christians and to explain the use of the category of ‘culture’ in relation to the present state of Muslim/Christian relations.