Bunker Mentalities: The Shifting Imaginaries of Albania’s Fortified Landscape
Between 1967 and 1986, the Albanian government built an estimated 750,000 small and medium-sized military bunkers for defense purposes. These concrete constructions were spread across the country’s territory, with many concentrated along borders and beaches, in cities, and near key industries, strategic points, and transportation infrastructure. Long symbols of the communist regime, after it collapsed in 1991, the bunkers lost their purpose. As a result, both the narratives surrounding bunkers and their actual uses experienced significant transformations. Originally designed to control borders and instill fear in the population, bunkers have since been abandoned, destroyed, and graffitied, as might be expected. More notably, local entrepreneurs have transformed some bunkers into hotels or restaurants, while the state and non-profit organizations have turned others into commemorative sites that respectively glorify or expose the communist regime’s undertakings. Our ethnographic research into the discursive and material shifts to Albania’s fortified landscape, based on several field trips, interviews and investigations carried out between 2007 and 2017, identifies four contemporary “bunker mentalities” in Albania: indifference, derision, commodification, and commemoration.
Copyright (c) 2022 Frédéric Lasserre
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