Albania: Escaping the East, Aspiring for the West
Paperback, 264 pages
Release date: Jan 2021
Perparim Xhaferi’s book Albania: Escaping the East, Aspiring for the West is a timely reminder that this small Balkan country with an Eastern history but Western aspirations remains a potentially important player in the Eastern Mediterranean. With its unique historical relationship to Turkey, despite almost half a century of communism, Albania remains uniquely placed to understand Turkish influence in the contemporary environment. However, for Albania to become a player between West and East, rather than a pawn in the politics of its more powerful neighbours, the nation must come to terms with its Ottoman heritage as well as its immediate communist past. Dr Xhaferi’s insightful analysis covers the important points in the formation of the Albanian nation before focusing on the relationship to Turkey, past and present. Xhaferi casts a critical eye over those aspects of the Ottoman heritage that still exercise influence in Albania and that are in danger of being instrumentalized by a newly powerful Turkey attempting to consolidate a regional presence beyond its immediate borders and to the north of Greece. With his coverage of the cultural aspects of Albanian identity, in particular in his analysis of the work of leading author and public intellectual, Ismail Kadare, Xhaferi provides a unique perspective on Albania as it reshapes itself after a calamitous twentieth century and in the context of potential membership of the European Union in the twenty-first.
-- Professor Peter Morgan, Director, European Studies Program, The University of Sydney