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Kosovo’s B/Orders and Beyond: Crossing Borders, Challenging Social Orders, Workshop

Kosovo’s B/Orders and Beyond: Crossing Borders, Challenging Social Orders


at the Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder) (EUV)
May 2-3, 2022

organized by PD Dr. Carolin Leutloff-Grandits (EUV), in collaboration with Dr. Linda Gusia and Dr. Nita Luci (University of Prishtina)

Workshop Description

In Kosovo and more generally in South-eastern Europe, borders and social orders are contested both from outside and within and are anything but stable. They shifted enormously in the late 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, when the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire ceased to exist. After World War I and World War II, new political orders were created and state borders were redefined, dissolved, and reinvented. A prominent place is occupied by the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, which existed from 1945 to 1990 and of which Kosovo was a part. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the borders again shifted. After the violent disintegration of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, new nation-states were established within new borders. These changes also mark a new political order, the transition from the previous socialist society to a capitalist and neoliberal one, in which the ideology of 'brotherhood and unity' has often been replaced by antagonistic and partly extremely aggressive nationalism. The new state borders and social orders are still partly contested, and Kosovo is an example par excellence of this. The political leadership of neighbouring Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's independence, not least because Kosovo is considered the historical cradle of the Serbian nation and northern Kosovo is inhabited by a majority of Serbs. But Kosovo’s social order is also disputed from within. While some criticize the influence of the EU, others complain about the paternalistic, often patriarchal and corrupt approach of the political representatives and institutions in the country and the fact that EU membership is still not within reach. This also affects the situation of migrants and those who attempt to travel abroad. to enter the EU. Still, already for decades, migration takes an important place within the region and migrants cross and traverse borders and challenge social orders.
In this workshop, we will focus on the interrelationship between shifting state borders and social boundaries which effect social orders in Kosovo and more generally South-eastern Europe. In the context of contested geopolitical borders, contributions focus on shifting social boundaries that mark social orders within society. This includes the exploration of gender, ethnic, racial and class boundaries and their contestation from an intersectional approach. Simultaeously, we want to link to European and global dimensions, including the influence of the EU on South-eastern Europe and the importance of migration.

Keynote: Assembling Borders in the Supervised European Semiperiphery
Prof. Dr. Stef Jansen, University of Sarajevo / University of Manchester


How can we best understand and theorise the ongoing making of polity borders in Southeast Europe? Which tools do we have to avoid the weaknesses of explanations that posit 'the state' as a sovereign subject that draws borders? In this presentation I will explore how the conceptual apparatus of 'assemblage' can help us grasp the provisionality of bordering processes as well as the heterogeneity of the actors involved in it. Yet, going against a dominant tendency in uses of assemblage theory, I will pay particular attention to hierarchical relations between these actors: in a constellation of semiperipheral 'supervision' as part of EU conditionality, some of them are much more capable to provisionally stabilise particular border assemblages than others. This, in turn, produces particular tensions in terms of how stable these assemblages really are. The presentation will draw on research on the post-1990 bordering of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the hope that the subsequent discussion will make connections to Kosova.