Saturday, October 22, 2005

Kosovo fieldwork: atmosphere

Kosova/Kosovo fieldwork notes extracts

I arrived in Prishtine in Kosovo on the morning of the 9th of July, walked into and around the city and, in the afternoon, met my host, a member of Hospitality Club, who had offered me a place to stay.

At 3.55pm on the 10th of July 2005 I said that:
They're too nice, too kind, too hospitable! If I twitch, they think there's something wrong; if I move, they give me food or drink (or both); if I stand, they think I'm leaving the house! I haven't had the chance; even when I stood to clean my teeth I was waved down for more coffee and coke. It's past 4pm on my first proper day in Prishtine - and in Kosovo - and I haven't left the house!

Admittedly, I don't want to quite yet, as I haven't had the chance to shower yet either, because the water - and the electricity to heat the water - have been minimal or simply off all day. I think if I were here - in a house of my own, not captive in a house of an overly-hospitable local family - I could work round this.

I believe, then, that the significant obstacle to my work would be the background atmosphere... of bombings. There've been three in the past week; although no-one died in them and they were on institutional targets - UNMIK, OSCE and somewhere else (the 'president''s place?) - it's still not exactly what I was looking for in terms of topics of daily discussion.

I was hoping for what the weather was like, what people had done that day, that a film of someone getting hit by a football in the groin had won an Oscar... not what the explosion was like, what people had escaped that day, that another CCTV film of some building getting blasted by a bomb in the corner had been broadcast. I didn't expect to strike up conversation in the bakery that led to anyone declaring, 'I don't believe in these bombings. If someone wants to kill you, they will kill you. These bombings are nothing'.

Okay, there have just been the bombings in London; okay, there have just been the bombings in Kosovo; okay, I did expect to strike up those conversations... but the bombings in London are more of a concern in and of themselves than they are as a conversation piece... but the Kosovo bombings are I-don't-know-how-regular and not only against institutional targets...

... but the bakery conversations are so frequent, so normal, so casual that they surprised me. I expected more noticeable a change in the atmosphere when the conversation turned to such grave matters (no pun intended).
Participants have been afforded anonymity. Formatting has been changed to make it easy to read in a blog.

Technorati tags: ; ; ; /; ; //.

No comments:

Post a Comment