Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo

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9780231113830: Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo

Little notice has been paid to the growing ethnic and religious tensions within the Serbian province of Kosovo-tensions that now pose a serious threat to the security of the Balkans. Miranda Vickers explores the roots of this conflict, and tracks the recent trajectory of Serbian and Albanian relations in Kosovo. The first third of the book outlines the history of Kosovo during the medieval and Ottoman periods, when relations between the two communities were generally good. The second part of the book examines Kosovo since 1945, when the area fell under Serbian administration in the socialist Yugoslav system. Vickers concludes by surveying the steady deterioration in Serb-Albanian relations since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1981. With careful detail, she reveals how a largely peaceful, politically driven campaign for the independence of Kosovo has recently turned to violence with terrorist attacks on Serb political and military institutions, on Albanians thought to be collaborating with the Serbs, and on Serbs themselves. In the process, the author provides a balanced account of the Serb and Albanian positions, while placing much of the blame for the current situation on the repressive policies of Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

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Review:

The ethnic conflicts in the Yugoslavian province of Kosovo are often bewildering to readers without a grounding in the tangled history of the Balkans. Miranda Vickers, the leading English-language student of Albanian history, does much to clarify the situation with this thorough account of the tiny region, a fertile, mountain-ringed plateau whose Serbian name means something like "place of the blackbirds." That bucolic place name, however, does not speak to the violence that has been visited on the land for centuries.

Kosovo, as Vickers writes, has long been a place where different cultures--Slavic, Albanian, Jewish, Turkish, and Central Asian--have met and, at times, either peacefully coexisted or battled bitterly. The lines of division, Vickers proves again and again, have never been clearly drawn. The debate in the 1990s, as it was in the Middle Ages, is over which group has the clearest ancestral claim to Kosovo: the Muslim Albanians, who make up about 90 percent of Kosovo's population and trace their roots to the ancient Illyrians, hold that it is theirs, while Orthodox Serbs, defeated by the Turks at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, similarly claim that their long presence in the region gives them dominion over it--a claim that, Vickers writes, "derives purely from history and emotion." History and emotion are powerful motivators, of course, as demonstrated by the Serbian nationalists who now seek to thwart ethnic Albanian attempts to unite Kosovo with Albania itself. (The issue is complicated, Vickers contends, by the presence of many Serb fighters in the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army who are not native to the region, but mercenary veterans of the now-dormant civil war in neighboring Bosnia.) After centuries of inhabiting parallel worlds, in Vickers's useful metaphor, these two groups are now drawing on the memories of centuries of conflict to shape the present. The result is a continuing legacy of bloodshed and hatred that has captured the attention of the world. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

MIRANDA VICKERS is Britain's leading historian of the Albanian people in general and Kosovo in particular. She is the coauthor (with James Pettifer) of Albania: From Anarchy to a Balkan Identity and is the author of A History of the Albanian Peoples.

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Miranda Vickers
Editore: Columbia Univ Pr (1998)
ISBN 10: 0231113838 ISBN 13: 9780231113830
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Descrizione libro Columbia Univ Pr, New York NY, 1998. Soft cover. Condizione libro: New. No Jacket. 1st Paperback Edition. First edition 1998, first paperback printing. Trade softcover, no DJ as issued. Condition new, spine not creased, sharp corners, No names no highlighting no underlining no bent page corners, Not a reminder. 8vo, 328 pages including bibliography, appendix and index. Codice libro della libreria 003585

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