“Brotherhood and Unity” versus State Security: Conflicting Visions of Loyalty in Socialist Kosovo

Thursday, January 3, 2019: 1:50 PM
Stevens C-4 (Hilton Chicago)
Isabel Ströhle, author
Prior to its declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo had been an integral part of Yugoslavia for the largest part of the last century. Despite its small size, the multiethnic province - predominantly inhabited by the country’s biggest non-Slavic minority, the Albanians - played a central role in both stability and demise of the federation of South-Slavic nations.

Due to the Albanians’ resistance against the Yugoslav partisans retaking power in Kosovo at the end of the Second World War, Yugoslav communist authorities imposed strict rule over the province until at least 1966. Particularly the state security apparatus saw the region at threat of the potential disloyalty and separatism of the Albanian national minority, and thus closely surveilled expressions of their national identity. This policy contrasted strongly with one of the founding myths and mechanisms, which the Communists applied with the aim to enhance loyalty to the new Yugoslav state, namely brotherhood and unity of all Yugoslav nations and nationalities.

Based on Albanian and Serbo-Croatian language sources ranging from party debates, state security reports to memoirs, the tensions resulting from the conflicting expectations of (national) loyalty, as defined by different Yugoslav party and state authorities, are explored. It is argued that the Yugoslav state security services enforcement of loyalty through repression obstructed the development of any positive identification with the Yugoslav state of its Albanian citizens, as it was advertised by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia.