Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Red, White, and Balkan

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Red, White, and Balkan

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Unapproachable Light" by Dimiter Kenarov, in Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2010.

PICTURE A PREDOMINANTLY Muslim city where residents celebrate Thanksgiving and Old Glory flies above storefronts. Pipe dream? Not in Ferizaj, Kosovo, home of the largest American military installation in the Balkans. As Dimiter Kenarov, a doctoral student in English at the University of California, Berkeley, tells it, "To walk around Ferizaj is to move through a weird fantasy that never came true in the Middle East."

Before the disintegration of Yugoslavia during the 1990s, Ferizaj was a small rural outpost that had grown around a train station built during the Ottoman era. (Eight thousand Christian Orthodox Serbs lived in the town. Now, one Serbian resident estimates they number just eight.) The vast majority of Ferizaj's 165,000-odd inhabitants are Muslim Albanians.

Today, the town has the "frenzied atmosphere of a frontier settlement," thanks to Camp Bondsteel--a 955-acre facility containing 50 helipads, two chapels, a Burger King, and a Taco Bell, along with three gyms and volleyball and basketball courts. It was created in less than 90 days in 1999.

Kenarov explains that Camp Bondsteel was ostensibly built to house the U. …

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