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

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. This, however, does not mean that there is no territorial dimension to their "nationalizing" projects, but rather that their territorial claims assume a different form and have different objectives. Decentralization on the ethnic principle - advocated by both the Bosniaks and the Goranis - illustrates the point.2

In his book Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe, Rogers Brubaker argues that the abrupt changes in internal and/or international borders and the new reconfigurations by national/ethnic groups have resulted in "the new mismatch between cultural and political boundaries." The new reconfigurations are often manifested through a reversal process, whereby the national minority acquires the status of the "state -bearing" nationality and vice versa.4 Although the focus is on two "mutually antagonistic nationalisms" - the nationalizing state and the external national homeland - Brubaker, nevertheless, recognizes national minorities as "a political subject in their own right."5 The actions, practices, and polices of one actor are often perceived as threats to the other, triggering the process of "reciprocal monitoring. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.