Figuring out the Enemy: Re-Imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations (2014-2016)

Lead partner: Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Duration: July 2014 – September 2016

Project coordinators: Adriana Zaharijević, Aleksandar Pavlović, Rigels Halili, Gazela Pudar Draško

Project Figuring out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations challenged Serbian-Albanian hostility by reinvestigating events and discourses from the past and recent times, seeking to give explanation and identify common views, ideas and traditions that undermine the present enmity and promote cooperation.

Project brought together scholars and researchers from Serbia, Kosovo and Albania from various fields of social sciences, humanities, literature and art theory that were determined to penetrate into the logic of Serbian-Albanian hostility and into its manifestations by using various analytic tools. It covered several topics, including historical background, literature and history textbooks, artistic, literary and political discourses, media content, relations and collaborative plans.

Research efforts were divided in several thematic sections, which together explore the modes of a conflict that has lasted for centuries, with varying intensity. The introductory discussions were dedicated to researching the history(ies) and heritage(s) of both nations that aspire to the same exclusive territory. They explored memories that grew into myths, (re)construction of the past, but also of the recent key events, that become mutually nourished hostility hubs. This reconstruction continued with discourse analysis.

The research focused on finding dominant narrative frameworks, discursive devices used to create coherent stories, but also on absent motives that potentially disrupt the coherence by questioning nationalism as the core ideology – from the official language of SFRY to present textbooks and media narratives. Following these analytical lines, the research focused also on specific case studies (memoranda of the Academies, Kosovo independence proclamation, exhibition of Albanian artists, Brussels agreement, etc), exploring the cultural symbolical actions and key political and cultural events in mutual relations. Also, the research focused on trends in respective media. Researchers deconstructed strategic rivalry, tending to explore what emerges from the historical and mental knot of the violence – “executioner and victim” narrative.

This is the first joint initiative of scholars and intellectuals from Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, which includes the research endeavors and promotion of critically oriented findings outside the region. We aimed to create international attention by publishing a collection in English and organizing several events planned on the project. The project aimed to create lasting cooperation and a strong network between scholars, intellectuals and cultural institutions from Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. T

The Project has been implemented by the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade in partnership with researchers from the region and the association KPZ Beton from Belgrade, with support of the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

THE BOOK

Figura neprijatelja: preosmišljavanje srpsko-albanskih odnosa [Figuring out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations], Beograd : Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju : Beton, 2015, 464 p.

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