In the past decade, an extensive number of publications have analyzed the Kosovo conflict, the future of Kosovo, the unilateral declaration of independence and the international presence in Kosovo. Often, when analyzing Kosovo, more attention is given to the territory itself than to the people of Kosovo and the changes they have lived through in the last decade. While political processes and politicians are in the media spotlight, policy analysis and other writings about everyday realities and peoples’ lives in Kosovo have been overlooked or forgotten. Additionally, while the Albanian population in Kosovo receives most of the attention in research and analysis, the Serbian minority in Kosovo is discussed in a way that does not reflect their everyday lives. Therefore, in this paper I attempt to capture the everyday lives of young Kosovar Serbs whose stories and realities are almost hidden in the context of the Kosovo declaration of independence. To this end, I look at daily encounters between Serbs and Albanians from the perspective of Serbs in Kosovo who attempt to interact in today’s society, in what is now an Albanian space. Such interactions, which I refer to here as daily unstructured encounters, are almost non-existent and take place on a very small scale, as Serbs in Kosovo are completely segregated and disconnected from the newborn state. I then contrast such daily unstructured encounters with structured encounters occurring between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs from Serbia in the form of the ‘visiting program’ initiated and facilitated by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR).1 By structured and planned encounters I refer to meetings and projects initiated and facilitated by local or international groups. In making this comparison I highlight the shift in power relations that has occurred in Kosovo as a consequence of the 1999 international intervention. I understand this shift as a crucial one for reshaping intergroup relations inside Kosovo and between Kosovo and Serbia, as well as in transforming the everyday lives of both Serbs and Albanians during the past decade in Kosovo. In focusing on intergroup relations in Kosovo and on the issue of balance of power, I do not claim that Kosovo is a region torn between Serbs and Albanians only, nor do I wish to oversimplify other existing divisions and issues in Kosovo’s population today or ignore the rich history of other communities in Kosovo.2 I do, however, focus my study here on Serb-Albanian relations in the context of the new post-Yugoslav states, and more specifically in the reality created in Kosovo after June 1999. I am interested in the ways the shift in power relations between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo has transformed identities and the everyday lives of ordinary people.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/orli_fridman/7/