Blackout and paranoia

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These notes were written a hour ago. I had just woken up after a night without electricity and water. No internet, no news, no battery life on my laptop, no credit on my mobile phone, no matches to light a candle. I felt suddenly very isolated and a bit worried for the first time since I’m here. But yesterday was a special day, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7300015.stm

Now power is back. I checked the BBC. No news from Kosovo. Apparently, it was a normal power failure. That’s a relief. But, I am amazed how easily one can end up joining the dots and expecting the worst.

Lesson learned: have at hand a top-up card for the phone; buy a box of matches

17 Marzo

Oggi, a Mitrovica, la Nato si e’ scontrata con i dimostranti serbi kosovari.

Oggi, un mese fa, il Kosovo dichiarava unilateralmente l’indipendenza.

Oggi, quattro anni fa, scoppiava proprio a Mitrovica la piu’ grande rivolta del post-1999 che porto’ a morti, feriti e migliaia di sfollati.

Oggi, un mese fa, nasceva a Pristina Dion, il figlio del tassista che mi accompagna all’aeroporto.

Ancestors

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The search for ancestors is a key task of nation-building. To root the present into the past – and the older the better – it is essential to substantiate and embellish any claim over a territory. Thus, it is not surprising that one of terrains on which the battle for the control of Kosov@ is/was fought is the ownership and meaning of the items found in the region. In the museum there are a lot of empty windows and spaces. Posters here and there call for international support to the campaigning for the return of hundreds of pieces taken/borrowed by Serbia in the immediate aftermath of the war in 1999.

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It is also not surprising that in the post 1999 Kosovo, many efforts were put into excavations and archeological research  (with the support of internation donors, of course). And here I come to my final point: why the international community is keen on archeology. Politcs and archeology are closely related in contested territories. This is true for Albanian-speaking Kosovans as well as for Serbian-speaking ones, but also for the western sponsors of the new independent Kosovo. Let’s not forget that we are talking of a country were Islam is the main religion. While keen to affirm/confirm their geopolitical control over the Balkan against the pro-Russia Serbia (for how long?), the western powers  are keen to promote and enhance a specific vision and imaginary of Kosovo as a secular country for the rest of the world but in primis for Kosovo inhabitants. Investing in archeology is therefore instrumental in achieving this aim as it can date back the claim over the territory but also over its cultural roots and heritage to a pre-Islamic time.