Pursuing the Albanian Dream: Loyalty, Language, and Nation in Socialist Kosovo

Thursday, January 3, 2019: 2:10 PM
Stevens C-4 (Hilton Chicago)
Justin Elliott, University College London
In 1968, the Prishtina Linguistic Consultation, in the name of the Albanians of Yugoslavia, decided to adopt Standard Albanian as created in Enver Hoxha’s Albania. This seemed rather surprising, because Yugoslavia had very poor relations with Albania and the dialect spoken by Yugoslav Albanians was very different from the dialect on which Standard Albanian was based. Moreover, Standard Albanian, as created in Albania, was a tool of revolutionary change and control for Hoxha’s regime, rooted in Stalinist linguistics. The reasons for Yugoslav Albanians’ adoption of this form tell us much about Yugoslav Albanians’ self-understanding in relation to Albania and Yugoslavia. This paper will examine Yugoslav Albanians’ growing sense of national identification with an Albania to which they felt inferior, and will argue that the issues surrounding the Prishtina Linguistic Consultation had less to do with language than with an identification with the “mother state” Albania, albeit an imagined Albania rather than the one actually across the border. Albanians in Yugoslavia no longer felt themselves to be a minority, but asserted their position as part of a greater Albanian whole. This paper will thus identify conflicting loyalties over nation, state, and scholarship that still continue in fierce debate in present-day independent Kosovo.
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