Paper Accepted for ISA 2010 in New Orleans

I am happy to report that my paper-in-progress, “Kosovo is Serbia”: Nation and Homeland in Contentious Territorial Politics, has been accepted for next year’s International Studies Association annual conference.

The conference will be held in New Orleans from February 17 through February 20, 2010 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel. My panel, “Building Nations,” will take place on Saturday, February 20, at 8:30 am. Much to my surprise, I have also been assigned to chair the panel! This will be a first for me so if anyone has any pointers on how to do this job well, please pass them along!

For your reading pleasure, I have attached the paper abstract after the jump. Enjoy and, as always, feedback is greatly appreciated:

“Kosovo is Serbia”: Nation and Homeland in Contentious Territorial Politics

In the two decades following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia has slowly reconciled itself to the new Balkan political map in every substantive instance save one: Kosovo. Serbia’s intransigence has weathered regime change from dictatorship to democracy and political incumbency from ultranationalists to liberal continentalists. This outcome stands in stark contrast to Serbia’s eventual renunciation of claims to Bosnia in 1995 and its calm acquiescence to Montenegro’s secession in 2006. Both territories boast significantly larger Serbian populations than Kosovo, both are economically more productive, and Montenegro with its Adriatic coastline is more strategically valuable. This behavior is not explained by conventional approaches to international territorial conflict. Rather this paper examines the integral role of Kosovo in the Serbian national imagination. As Serbia’s medieval capital, claims center not on its material assets or ethnic demographics but on the meanings that popular national narratives draw from the territory itself. Homeland claims of this nature assign worth to territory neither dependent on nor perfectly substituted by strategic, economic, or political prerogatives. The value-laden nature of these spaces contributes to the sense that they are integral to the identity of the state and nation making compromise highly unlikely.

3 Responses to Paper Accepted for ISA 2010 in New Orleans

  1. Nice start. I dunno if someone told you that through interviews and chats, but I (as a non Jew; a non expert; a Serb) think Serbs’ ties for Kosovo i Metohija [a side note: why western guys don’t use word Metohija? because it comes from greek word metohkia – meaning monastery’s land… again meaning somebody lived there first, left notice of it, and might claim it..etc ^^] might be compared with Jews’ ties to Jerusalem and other sacred places. Am I right?
    Good luck with the paper!

  2. arielzellman says:

    One of the most common phrases I heard this summer was: “Kosovo is our Jerusalem”; this from activists, politicians, priests, and ordinary people off the street.

    As for Metohija, I have been inconsistent in my use of Kosovo’s full name. It has become a standard practice among academics and policymakers to use Kosovo minus Metohija in an effort to appear neutral: i.e. it is neither calling the territory Kosovo i Metohija as Serbs would prefer nor is it Kosova as Albanians would prefer. However in reality, even this “neutral” term makes a political statement.

    It is themes like these which are at the center of my research. Thanks so much for your thoughts and for reading.

  3. […] can read the abstract of the paper on my earlier post announcing my acceptance to the conference and you can download the entire paper in PDF format from […]

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