“Liminal lakes” is an extension of my PhD research project (University of the Aegean, 2012) that dealt with the contested conceptualizations, representations and local perceptions of landscape at triple border of Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia. Surrounded by high mountains, the twin Prespa lakes, Little Prespa, shared by Greece and Albania, and Great Prespa, divided between Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia, are part of the Prespa Park, the first transboundary protected area in the Balkans.
For my PhD research I conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the Greek part of the Prespa lakes and I used different types of data, sources and materials, from 19th century maps and travel writing, to environmental studies, satellite images, interviews and social media feeds, to go through different scales, media, and modes of “producing space” in Prespa. The long-term engagement in this project made me rethink about the border as a fluid process of constant “re-bordering” and also caused a deep personal interest in the inefficiency of tools and technologies of “mapping”, often used and reproduced by scholars, against the richness of lived experience in the field. These are issues that I revisit and further explore through different angles in the projects I am currently working on. I also revisit my PhD project in light of current political developments and migrations in the Balkans.
On 17 June 2018, Prime Ministers Tsipras and Zaev signed the historic Prespa
agreement, on the shores of the Great Prespa Lake, putting an end to the so-called name dispute between Greece and North Macedonia. The signing of the Prespa agreement marks the latest use of this borderland and its ruins as a performative stage. Prespa’s landscape and its ruins, both its celebrated Byzantine monuments and the contemporary ruins of villages deserted following the Greek Civil War (1946–1949), have been used as aesthetic and performative objects not only to serve nationalist narratives but also to negotiate processes of loss, mourning, or personal commemoration and reflection.