Sunday, October 23, 2005

Kosovo fieldwork: ethnic, political violence

Kosova/Kosovo fieldwork notes extracts

At 2.25am on the 12th of July 2005, I recorded that:
I saw my first fascist! [Corrected for accuracy on the 15th of January 2007].... [He] was a skinhead built like a brick shithouse, gold ear-rings in, black (and white-striped) tracksuit, t-shirt and trainers on!

One person, a local, who first informed me of the three Prishtine bombs, today informed me that someone has been killed in Decan/Decani; it hasn't been put up on the BBC yet, but I'm sure it will be, sitting alongside the Wild West analogies for and documentation of the deaths in the KLA-FARK feuding in Peje/Pec and Decan, general mafia domination (which I witnessed just the other night, as, just as we went into a bar, its manager got off his mobile and started shouting, 'shut the fucking bar down! Shut the fucking bar down'), etc., the discussions of status and the consequent increase in political violence and yes, the targeting of the (inter)national institutions/international community.

This reminds me that there may have been a(nother) Bulgarian killed, a charity worker, back in 1999 just as NATO moved into Kosovo, as well as the Bulgarian, this time [a] UN worker, killed in 2002(?) for unthinkingly giving the time in Serbian or being thought to have spoken in Serbian (when it was in fact, of course, Bulgarian) (maybe those two possibilities are the two cases merged in public memory) [and maybe he was speaking in Serbian/Serbo-Croat after all, which should have, at most, elicited a surprised, raised eyebrow].

Anyway, yes, today I got out of the house, nearly getting all or most of the photos I wanted (of the things I've noticed so far, though that multiple-dual-steepled building [the Trade Centre and Youth and Sports Building] still eludes me), but I bumped into him, whereupon we went for a drink and argued about the flag.

He said 'that's the flag, you should, you know...', motioning that I should set the flag high - above myself, look(ing) up to it, revere it; he also said that 'Kosovo's 90% Albanian, so they should be able to decide what they want for a flag and shouldn't have to choose something different when they've had that flag for five hundred years'.

Undesirably clarifying, he said that 'Kosovo's Albanian' - that is to say, it's not Serb, Turkish or Roma and Roms, Turks and Serbs are not Kosovan, but guests hosted by the Albanians, unless 'they can identify with it' [the Kosovo (Albanian) flag] a symbol he not only didn't deny, but positively identified as ethnic.

He defended this again, with the notion of an indigenous Albanian community whose 'homeland', which they've 'always' lived in, was the five areas 'split up' or 'divided up' in 1912... The Serbs, in contrast, were 'Slavs' who 'belonged somewhere around Russia', but had migrated in.

His approach - or maybe this apparent profession - seems odd, or, rather, questionable, given he has said that, 'of course, I would prefer everybody to live together and there to be no borders'.

This, in turn, makes questionable the simplistically simplistic politics of '(no negociata [jo negociata]) vetevendosje' ((no negotiation) self-decision [self-determination]), from being one of it being 'a decision for the people who live in Kosovo to make' to a decision the Serbs - and other non-Albanians - would have to 'accept' (and for which they would be accepted).
He said they could "choose to accept" autonomy, though what their alternatives would be or how they would be accepted or could accommodate themselves remains to be seen.
Alleging that all of the other regions' flags were ethnic (specifying the Greek and Serbian flags), the Kosovo/Albanian flag was also defended on the basis that 'you can't deny one people what you let everybody else have'... unless it's a meaningful level of autonomy over their own lives (and I didn't mean the Bosnian-style partition) and they're the Serbs/non-Albanians, evidently.

I said 'a multiethnic state should not have an ethnic flag' and that 'there must be a non-ethnic symbol of Kosovo'; he replied that 'too many people have died for the flag to change it'; he went to work before I could ask him, 'how many have to die before it's too many to keep it?'

I think one of the images off the new UN stamps, from the Museum of Kosovo or something, could or would be appropriate, something that 'symbolises the future and peace, not death'.

The rest - including the fleas with which this entry was supposed to deal, ultimately, the possibility that the only archaeologists the general community have much (contemporary) contact with are forensic archaeologists (somewhat skewing their perception of me) and the potentially revealing differences in the inscriptions (in posters, graffiti, etc.) upon historical, cultural and other sites between Albania and Kosovo.
Newly concerned with the ethnic exclusivity of the Kosovo/Albanian flag, I then asked myself, "should I get a t-shirt from the museum rather than an Albanian flag t-shirt from the market?" and, in relation to Serb and Albanian constructions of Albanian identity, noted something that one of the local Albanians had asserted, that they were "(allegedly) split 60% Muslim, 30% Catholic and 10% Orthodox, even with [the] same proportions in Kosovo, which I thought was overwhelmingly Muslim Albanian..."

Participants have been afforded anonymity. Formatting has been changed to make it easy to read in a blog.

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