Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ethnography in Cafes- Post on Allegra Laboratories

Check out this short piece I wrote for Allegra Laboratories on ethnography in Prishtina's cafes! There's more after the link!

EXCERPT: It’s cooling down now, and the weather would be pleasant, except the sun’s in my eyes. The time is approximately 7 pm, and I’m sitting at a table on the crowded patio of a cafe on Zahir Pajaziti square, a large, concrete public space in Pristina dedicated to a deceased Kosovo Liberation Army commander. Grimacing in the light, I order a small macchiato (makiato e vogël), thinking “at least the coffee looks nice” and, with my heart-rate accelerating, I look attentively over the patio. Who’s here, what are they doing, what’s the cafe like, what’s happening? Upbeat electronic music plays in the background, while the waiters, dressed sharply, serve a mixture of makiatos, ice cream, and juices. Many of my fellow patrons at this particular cafe seem to be of middle class backgrounds, with most people sitting in groups of 2 to 6, sometimes more. To my left, I see a group composed of two young men, two young women, and their children relaxing. They are having a political discussion, with words such as “Amerika” and “Thaçi,” Kosovo’s current prime minister, being accompanied by snorts of amusement.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Prishtina in Photos, Part 2: Scenes of Change

Buildings near City Centre
One thing about Prishtina: if you're walking around at the right moment, it can sound like the entire city is under construction. Indeed, each morning in Dardania, I wake up to see the complex outside my window slowly taking shape. In other neighbourhoods here, such as Dragodan, legions of apartment buildings are being built. Writing of Dardania, Norman notes that the recent waves of construction have led to significant changes in relationships, as residents leave their neighbourhoods for newer, perhaps cheaper, properties. These changes, of construction and deconstruction, have become common place in Prishtina's political discourse, where the need for urban planning and anti-corruption activities have become one-in-the-same. Perhaps, the skeletal commercial building and cave-like, half-complete apartment block are symptoms of unrestrained privatisation. Or, perhaps they represent adaptations?

The series of photographs below are some of the changes seen (and often heard) in Prishtina, and, as such, they are only a part of the overall picture. As such, I will be posting more photos soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Public Sphere in Prishtina: Rhetoric, Relationships, and Urban Space

Prishtina City Centre
Since arriving in early June, I have been undertaking my fieldwork in Prishtina, Kosovo, on political rhetoric and urban mobilisation. I am interested in how rhetoric, as a “moving force” between culture and events, may influence how people form their relationships and how they mobilise. My research then inquires into the reasons through which political actions occur and how communities form and fragment.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First Month in Prishtina!

Makiato, the symbol of my fieldwork.
I find it hard to believe that it's been almost a month since I've arrived here. I admit, it started off with a bang, including encounters with local bureaucracies and a still-contested election. Indeed, you may have noticed a serious gap in my posts through the middle of June. In the midst of getting used to a new culture, learning a language, and meeting new people, I got a bit overwhelmed here for a while. However, most things have settled down by this point (except for the election, of course), and I'm getting into the swing of that thing we anthropologists love to talk about: fieldwork.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Since my last post, I have begun exploring Prishtina's urban spaces in order to gain a broad space of data for later use. So far, I've visited several areas during this trip, such as the city centre, Vellusha, Pejton, and Dardania. Drawing on descriptions and observations so far (and yes, including a photo), this post centres on the latter, Dardania, and its immediate vicinity. This will be the first in a series of posts on Prishtina's urban spaces. From these posts, I hope you can appreciate that, not only is my time being put to use, but cities contain a diversity of spaces which should be appreciated in order to paint a picture of urban life.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Prishtina in Photos, Part I

A number of you have requested that I post photos of my time here in Prishtina. If you were one of this group, I hope you enjoy these photos, which I've taken over the last week. However, these pictures also represent some of my initial impressions of the city, and, as a result, they begin an ongoing series of posts through which I document my fieldwork.

Street leading from Mother Teresa Blvd., City Centre.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Back in Prishtina!

Skanderbeg Statue, Prishtina City Centre
I'm finally back in Prishtina! Or, to put it more accurately, I've been here for about a week and have just now found some time to write this post. Here, I'll recap some of my experiences over the past week and a half, although some things, such as Kosovo's still-contested election, will be explored in greater detail later on. Sufficed to say, it has been an eventful 11 days since leaving for Prishtina on 3 June.

I first traveled to Prishtina in March 2013, when I visited the city as part of my Masters programme at the interdisciplinary Durham Global Security Institute, located at Durham University. We spent about a week there, visiting people and organisations involved in Kosovo's reconstruction and statebuilding. Through this experience, I gained an interest in Prishtina's politics, leading me to conduct my dissertation research there during summer 2013 on communication and Kosovo Albanian identity. Following the course's conclusion, I embarked on a PhD programme in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, also at Durham University, and I began to plan for a year of fieldwork in Prishtina on rhetoric and political action.