Kosovo: End of supervision

Western powers overseeing Kosovo have announced the end of their supervision of the Balkan nation, the last to be born out of the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
Since its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbian in Febraury 2008, Kosovo had been overseen by a group made up of 23 EU countries, the US and Turkey. On September 10, 2012 Pieter Feith, the Dutch diplomat serving as both serving as the European Union Special Representative(EUSR) and as the International Civilian Representative in Kosovo, declared the end of international supervision. What does this mean to the ethnic minorities of Kosovo is too early to say.

In 2008, in the months following the declaration of independence, I carried out fieldwork in Kosovo, interviewing several Roma, Askhali and Egyptian Kosovans and wrote two concept papers (Integrating minorities in a post-conflict society and Towards the social inclusion of RAE in Kosovo) to inform the implementation of the Kosovo’s strategy for RAE integration (funded by the EC).  This article published recently in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2012, vol. 38, n.8) discusses some of the findings of the work and portraits the challanges that the supervision status was posing to ethnic minorities. Stemming from my time in Kosovo, I have also published an interview with two very active Roma leaders in Romani Politics in Contemporary Europe (Sigona & Trehan, 2009) and a number of posts on this blog (both texts and photos).

Nation building and the others

I’m on my way to Cyprus where I’m giving a paper at the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration conference (IASFM: www.iasfm.org) . My paper is about RAE in Kosovo, but I’m not going to look into the appaling living conditions of the communities, as there are several detailed reports on this, rather I would like to use the situation of the RAE as a lens to look into tensions and conflicts in the process of nation building in Kosovo. In particular, i want to explore the tension between ‘colonial’ EU protectorate policy and practice and ‘colonial’ responses of  Kosovo ruling elite. Two chapters of the RAE integration strategy and some pilot interviews carried out last year are the empirical basis of the reflections. More work will follow next year when I’m planning a 2 weeks trip to Kosovo.

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