Democratization v. Reconciliation: Post-Nationalist Memories of the Battle of Kosovo

Repeats every week.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
1219 International Affairs Building

Please join the Harriman Institute for a talk by Anna Di Lellio.

Policies attempting reconciliation in societies where competing national historical memories have been part of the conflict oscillate between imposing amnesia and negotiating history. Both projects, based on engineering memories while at the same time denying agency to the parties involved, are intellectually problematic; politically, they produce at best mixed results. A better option would be to reframe reconciliation as a democracy project. This includes breaking the monopoly that competing parties seek on national memory, not by trying to put forth a “true” history, or forge a “mediated” history, but by expanding history to memories. As an illustration of such project, I propose to take the case of Kosovo, where the medieval battle of 1389 that has become a national foundational myth for Serbs, and is widely known as such, also feeds a post-war pan-Albanian narrative. A post-nationalist Kosovo will have to face, rather than deny this contrast, by considering all the elements that make up the historical memories of this event -- facts, rumors, distortions, and sentiments, as they are experienced, read, or just heard.

Dr. Di Lellio is the author of The Battle of Kosovo 1389. An Albanian Epic (I.B. Tauris 2009) and the editor of The Case for Kosova. A Passage to Independence (Anthem Press 2006). She is a commentator and policy analyst on post-war Kosovo and lectures at the Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) at The New School in New York and the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication (KIJAC) in Prishtina. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Columbia University and a Masters in Public Policy from New York University.