Academic journal article Canadian Slavonic Papers

The Ethnic Division of Education and the Relations among Non-Serb Minorities in Kosovo*

Academic journal article Canadian Slavonic Papers

The Ethnic Division of Education and the Relations among Non-Serb Minorities in Kosovo*

Article excerpt


Kosovo's education system is divided along a Serb-Albanian line, with consequences for the non-Serb minorities. While Serb-Albanian relations have been researched and analyzed extensively, relations among non-Serb minority communities have typically been neglected. Although there are some studies addressing the treatment and rights of individual minority groups in Kosovo, there is very little written on the dynamics and relations those groups establish among themselves. This article uses education as the backdrop for analyzing the emerging inter-minority relations in Kosovo. The paper provides some background about minority education rights and the consequences of their partial implementation for those minority groups-i.e., the Kosovo Bosniaks and Turks-whose members opt to follow the Albanian (Kosovo) educational system. In addition, it offers insights into some of the economic and political considerations behind the decision of the Gorani community to endorse the Serbian educational system. Finally, I analyze the relations between the Goranis and Bosniaks that have been developing around education and language rights.

To Marianne Wightmanfor her tireless commitment to the Balkan Deployment Project


Traditionally, minority rights have contributed to the promotion and preservation of the ethno -national identity of a minority group in relationship to the state. Serb-Albanian relations notwithstanding, the implementation of minority rights in Kosovo positions one minority group vis-à-vis another - rather than the state. For example, when the political elites of the Gorani community in Kosovo defend their right to have education in the Serbian language (as opposed to the Bosnian), they are protecting their identity against assimilationist policies and rhetoric, both potential and real, promoted by their counterparts in the Bosniak community. In contrast, the elite of the Bosniak community perceive the Goranis not as a separate ethnic community, but rather as integral members of the Bosniak "corpus" who have not yet fully developed their "national consciousness." Thus, the preference of the Goranis to have education in Serbian rather than Bosnian is often interpreted as the betrayal of the Bosniak collective identity.1

I will look at Rogers Brubaker's "triadic nexus" theory, which is no doubt applicable to Kosovo, in particular to Serb- Albanian relations. The Albanians - a former national minority - are presently the "state -bearing nation" involved in the process of nationalization, while the Serbs - a former state -bearing nation - are a national minority who react by rejecting participation in, or affiliation with, Albanian-dominated institutions, i.e., they have their own separate "parallel structures." The Republic of Serbia might be seen as the external national homeland with the responsibility for protecting and supporting the Kosovo Serbs. I am not arguing here that the "triadic nexus" is directly applicable to non- Serb minorities, but rather that the inter-minority relations merit a theoretical framework within which those relations can be analyzed. Brubaker's theory is helpful to the extent that his analytical vocabulary and description of the historical context of nationalism facilitate my analysis.

In other words, I will try to show how in the context of the Gorani -Bosniak relationship a minority behaves as the "nationalizing" minority by using education and language rights as the main instrument for implementing and promoting its nationalizing projects. Furthermore, I acknowledge that the context in which the "nationalizing" policies and practices of a minority group are being formed is very much different from those that shape the Serb- Albanian relations. For example, unlike the Serbs, neither the Bosniaks nor the Goranis are politically and numerically significant to threaten the territorial integrity of Kosovo. …

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