Memories in the aftermath of armed conflicts remain highly contested. They become politically utilized, while a critical engagement with such memories become essential to building democratic and inclusive society. As a result of the political exploitation of memory and the construction of it, a dominant master narrative is developed, which marginalizes and silences diverse civilian memories and multi-perspectivity of it.
Kosovo mainstream and the official historical narrative don’t contextualize only the last armed conflict. It starts far back to classical antiquity, Ottoman Empire rule, to WWI & WWII, Socialist Yugoslavia rule and, Civil and peaceful resistance (at a very limited scale). Many aspects of respective narratives are presented in a very conservative and self-centered fashion, embodying a sense of glorified Albanian militant and masculine resistance, sacrifice and victory againstthe enemies of times, and a sense ofloyalty and unity to allies.
The material culture of memorialization; statues, memorials, commemorative sites and events reproducing this sense of interpretation have visibly and ubiquitously occupied Kosovo’s public space and memory landscape, and replaced the previously (mainly Serb and Yugoslav hegemonic memory). On the other hand, cultural heritage, architectural and vernacular monuments such as: Byzantine/Orthodox/Catholic architectural monuments, Ottoman/Islamic architectural monuments, (clock) towers, archaeological sites, museums, fortress’, schools (old), library, personalities’ houses etc. are left with little or no institutional care, exposing to the threat oftime, humankind and political and economic interests.
The one-dimensional culture of remembrance has co-opted the educational sector and become taken-for-granted by the country’s youth, while contested and distant memory heritage is leftto neglect and to the fate of time. The demand that the collective memory becomes specific and constructive, rather than useful or pleasurable, has changed our social, political and cultural understanding of ourselves and our fellows. The current technological trend for lifelogging and the rapid expansion of digital-geolocation supporting technologies may accelerate change on the ways we think, modulate and engage with memories of the past.
The project “Memory Heritage in Kosovo: General context” tends to collect, centralize and document memory landscape in Kosovo through online media and printed publication. The increased use of smartphones, online information and the broad coverage of internet networks, indicate a huge opportunity to provide and distribute knowledge that would provoke development and improve education. On the other hand, catalogues and publications as the second source of information, fill the missing gaps of opportunity to promote history, memory, and cultural heritage in a reformed sense, amongst youth, general population and culture explorers from abroad, but also policymakers, textbook writers, scholars, researchers and social critics, to critically and constructively engage with memory.
The project aims at establishing a culture of remembrance that is based on evidence, rather than political propaganda, (which has been the case so far) by researching on Kosovo memory heritage and mainstreaming it using the advantage of innovation and technology.
This project also introduces an alternative methodological frame that engages various disciplines (historical research, informatics, and technology)to deliver accurate and non-fictive historical data. Information that is found in this publication is also available on line at the following address www.kosovomemory.org. The research and this publication is the first phase of forumZFD Kosovo program and lntegra collaboration. Further plans include archive, literature and field research on neglected and marginalized memory in Kosovo.