chapter  2
23 Pages

Education and national mobilization in Kosovo in the 1980s

Student-led mass Albanian demonstrations in Kosovo in 1981 and the prominence of Albanian national demands showed that a delicate balance between national affirmation, on the one hand, and the acceptance of Yugoslavia’s constitutional arrangement on the other, had been upset. Education in the Albanian language in Kosovo was identified as a source of Albanian nationalism. Subsequently, a series of administrative interventions in Albanian education in Kosovo in the 1980s were aimed at stamping it out. This policy backfired. In contrast to the period prior to 1981 when Albanian national identity in Kosovo was nourished thanks to opportunities to learn and explore national history, culture and tradition, in the post1981 period it flourished precisely because this symbolic nourishment was denied to it. Albanians’ national identity became a resistance identity. Albanian-language education became a focal point in a national confrontation in Kosovo, pitting Serbs against Albanians. They clashed over the future constitutional visions for Kosovo, but fought out these visions in Kosovo’s schools and the university. Ultimately, separation emerged as a spatial analogy of symbolic national confrontation. A physical division of pupils and students along national lines was imposed in Kosovo’s schools and student dormitories in spring 1990. It was a precursor to total segregation on national lines, not only in Kosovo’s schools and the university, but in all spheres of life in Kosovo. This chapter first analyses the increasingly nationalist clampdown on Albanian-language education, and the Albanian response to it as they rallied together behind the defence of their nationhood. It then goes on to illustrate how the Kosovo education system was used in the context of Serbian nationalism as an argument for the abolition of Kosovo’s autonomy. It concludes by tracing the beginning of a new spatial order in the province.