On April 17-18, 2013, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) hosted distinguished professor Dr. Christina Kramer of the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Slavic Language and Linguistics Department for two discussions on the Macedonian language over the last century and the works of Macedonian author – Ambassador Luan Starova. Academician Kramer is also an external member of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the author of one of the only Macedonian language textbooks designed for English-speaking beginner and intermediate students.
On April 17, 2013, at the UMD office, she presented a paper on the changes the Macedonian language has undergone in the last century since the partition following the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest. Dr. Kramer’s discussion on the Macedonian language ranged from the struggle for recognition of the Macedonian language through the 19th and early 20th centuries to contemporary issues such as Cyrillic or Latin representations of the language in both on-line fora and public signage. Dr. Kramer explored the process of standardization, and emphasized certain developments in Macedonian morphology and the interaction of dialects and standard language. UMD thanks Dr. Kramer for her insight into the language and formidable contributions to broadening the appeal of the Macedonian language abroad.
On April 18, 2013, the European Division of the Library of Congress hosted a presentation by Dr. Kramer of an analysis of Ambassador Luan Starova’s novels My Father’s Books and The Time of the Goats in conjunction with the United Macedonian Diaspora and the Albanian-American National Organization (AANO). Ambassador Starova was Macedonia’s first Ambassador to France. My Father’s Books and The Time of the Goats are the first two novel-memoirs in Starova’s multi-volume Balkan Saga that explores history, displacement, and identity under three turbulent regimes: Ottoman, Fascist, and Stalinist. Ambassador Starova writes first in Macedonian and then translates his works into Albanian. Since he also worked closely with the French translator of his works, Kramer discussed the interesting issue of ‘source text’ for the translations.
During the event, Dr. Kramer spoke about Starova’s insights on identity; historically, Macedonia and the southern Balkan region was not a center of discord-rather, inhabitants shared a similar fate and community identity. The peoples of the Balkans share a common history of war and exile, and in order to heal from that experience, its peoples must connect through their shared experience. As Starova wrote: each new border divided souls, lakes, even the snow that caps the mountains. Dr. Kramer concluded her presentation by reading an excerpt from The Time of the Goats in Macedonian, Albanian, and English.
The Library of Congress, UMD, and AANO hosted a similar event in May 2012 to promote the works of Albania’s most well known novelist Sterjo Spasse who was of Macedonian heritage. AANO is one of the oldest Albanian-American national organizations in the U.S.
Macedonian media covered the events extensively and both Albanian and Macedonian language services of Voice of America interviewed Dr. Kramer and reported about the promotion of the works of Ambassador Starova. UMD strongly believes that dialogue is best accomplished through cultural diplomacy especially between the Albanian and Macedonian communities, which are united through positive role models and individuals like Sterjo Spasse and Ambassador Luan Starova.