The Ambivalence of Memory and History - the Case of Kosovo and Serbia in the Biographies of the Kosovo Serbs

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Marija GRUJIC , Sociology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
The main topic of my presentation is how Serbian and Kosovo histories are discussed and negotiated in the biographies of the Kosovo Serbs living in the displacement in Serbia. I am drawing on the biographical interviews collected in Serbia in 2012, and my ongoing doctoral research on the intersectionality of national, gender and religious facets in the social and political realities of the war and belligerent nationalism caused migrations.

In particular, I want to focus on the interrelatedness between political (national) and religious dominant discourses on Kosovo as “Heart of Serbia” or “Serbian Jerusalem” in the biographies of the Kosovo Serbs. Therefore, I am looking into the period after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombing of Kosovo and Serbia in 1999 (when majority of the Serbian population left Kosovo), and the social and political situating of Kosovo in the Serbian national-religious (Serbian Orthodox) memory practices relevant to this event and the wider understanding of the “Kosovo conflict".

The question of history has emerged in my research as significant topic, and I am currently analyzing its relatedness. First, there is an ambivalences of knowledge(s) and memories on the Kosovo and Serbian histories - both on the individual and collective level, and second that the history of the former Yugoslavian conflicts and therefore “Kosovo conflict” is often orientalized and balkanized, both in the scholarly work and the media reporting.

My findings are that personal and collective histories are intertwined in the religious and national discourses on the collective (nation, religious community) histories. Moreover, I am arguing that in the case of the wars and conflicts this entanglement becomes more visible and prevailing, leaving the individual almost hidden in the biographies.