Many of Sanja Zlatanović’s respondents pointed out similarities in the models of organizing the existence of the two groups, a similar mentality, the “Kosovo spirit”. The two communities share many aspects of social life, regardless of ethnic, religious and linguistic differences. The regional, Kosovo identity is what connects Serbs and Albanians, and distinguishes Kosovo Serbs from those from Serbia proper. Zlatanović notes that her respondents, older Serbs from the rural regions of Kosovsko Pomoravlje, use the term “Shqiptar” as a straightforward ethnonym without the derogatory connotation that this word has in the public discourse in Serbia. Younger respondents are using the term “Albanian” instead. (This respondent was born in Gornje Livče in 1936, where the interview was conducted in 2006.)

“We dance the same way, we play the same way, we just don’t speak the same way. When one goes to [an Albanian] wedding, he is to speak Shqip… Albanian. We don’t speak Serbian but… And the dances are the same, the music is the same, everything is the same.”

Living alongside Albanians has contributed to cultural permeation, similarities in cultural practice and models of existence.  A respondent from the village of Šilovo, born in 1982, says in an interview with Sanja Zlatanović (2006):

“Because Shqiptars lived here, here with us, and Turks, we took some of their customs.”

Another respondent, born in 1928 in the village of Žegra, lives as a displaced person in the village of Gornje Kusce near Gjilane.

“And we, at that time – you were not supposed to build your house by the roadside. He’ll see my daughter-in-law, he’ll see my wife! We also had a bit of that Shqiptar spirit. Because, who you live with, that’s who you are!”

Source: Sanja Zlatanović, Etnička identifikacija na posleratnom području: srpska zajednica jugoistočnog Kosova, Etnografski institut SANU, Beograd, 2018, p. 294, 315.

Image courtesy of aleksandarmiletic | MALI VELIKI LJUDI

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