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Building national identity in newborn Kosovo: Challenges of integrating national identity with ethnic identity among Kosovar Albanians and Kosovar Serbs

Boekbijdrage - Hoofdstuk

On February 17th 2008, these slogans, together with the typographical sculpture “NEWBORN” , were revealed at the centre of Prishtina, marking Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence. Every year, tribute to independence is paid by having Kosovo citizens paint the letters of the monument to refl ect major events that marked the past year. On its fi rst anniversary, NEWBORN was painted on the fl ags of all countries that accepted Kosovo’s independence, thanking them for their support. However, on marking the 7th birthday in 2015, NEWBORN refl ected a very different reality, after the glow of independence had worn off: It represented newborn Kosovo in bright multi-colours, with letter E completely painted in black to symbolise the gloom of the recent “Exodus” of about 10,000 Kosovo citizens who fled to European countries in just 1 month at the beginning of 2015 (Bytyçi & Than, 2015 ). The black E was also said to be refl ective of the country’s gloomy “Economy”, one of the main reasons people seek a better life abroad. Most of the people seeking asylum from Kosovo into European countries are young, as is Kosovo’s population. Demographically, it represents the country with one of the youngest populations in Europe, with over 60 % under the age of 35 (Kosovo Agency of Statistics [KAS], 2012 ). However, despite the potential and big dreams following independence, Kosovo remains one of the poorest countries in Europe (World Bank, 2010 ). Although the country has a lot of potential, one of its major problems is that it struggles with its history and the ethnic segregation among its population. The two largest ethnic groups , an overwhelming majority of ethnic Albanians and a much smaller minority of ethnic Serbs, have a confl icting past and now have to come to terms with one another in the new country. In the current chapter we present our fi rst steps in a new research project that aims to uncover the diffi culties of creating a new national identity based on these two highly segregated ethnic groups. In so doing, we fi rst provide a short historical background of the territory and these ethnic groups to understand the particularities of the context. Then, we present a recent study into the identities of Kosovar Albanians and Kosovar Serbs with the goal of determining strategies to improve relations between them.
Boek: Understanding peace and conflict through social identity theory: Contemporary and world-wide perspectives
Pagina's: 245 - 260
Jaar van publicatie:2016