I am only interested in the individuals: I have no special interest in states. Unfortunately,
history was always written by states, not individuals.

Mira Furlan (2020)

About the “(Extra)ordinary People” Project


The project “(Extra)ordinary People…” launched in Kosovo in 2019 by the Center for Historical Studies and Dialogue, was from the very beginning focused on relations between individuals from Albanian and Serbian communities. We have intentionally neglected the “greater context” or “big politics”; also, we were unimpressed by the so-called grand narratives or questions of fostered ethno-national interests. Our attention was, from the start, concentrated on the microcosm of ordinary people’s (co)existence, as well as on the everyday interethnic relations between Serbs and Albanians in the past and today.

As part of preliminary field research, we conducted a pilot study as a series of interviews in the region of Kosovska Kamenica, in which respondents would often tell us stories of mutual cooperation, assistance and friendship between members of the two communities. Time and again, we were fascinated by the little people who, through their testimonies and personal examples, demonstrated much more social responsibility than the political and intellectual elites of their corresponding nations, and this is what motivated us to continue our research. These preliminary results were in line with the conclusions of the extensive research and brilliant book by Sanja Zlatanović on the ethnic identity of Serbs and interethnic relations in the Kosovsko Pomoravlje district. It was also clear that her conclusions and ours deviate from the dominant stereotypes about the inevitably conflictual context of Serbian-Albanian relations.

In 2020 and 2021, we began cooperating with the Network of Peace Movement NGO based in Kosovska Kamenica and CASA in North Mitrovica. With their help, we interviewed respondents from the Serbian and Albanian communities. By combining structured interviews and casual conversation, we collected testimonies of positive examples of their coexistence and common life in Kosovsko Pomoravlje and the wider area of North and South Mitrovica. The results of the research will be published gradually on this website, which will serve as a digital repository of the material about the coexistence of the two communities in Kosovo.Our next project cycle will be focused on the municipality of Štrpce, and then on other parts of Kosovo.

Searching for positive examples of interethnic relations, our intention is not to fabricate or embellish the reality, but to contribute to its more complete understanding. Namely, today’s tabloid media and reckless ethnocentric historiography in both regions have already done enough to highlight the negative heritage and negative examples of Serbian-Albanian relations, and this has already become the standard mutual perception in people’s minds. We are searching for positive examples in order to offer them as a model for today and the future. Unfortunately, these are often memorials to interethnic communities that no longer exist because people have been displaced or expelled from their place of birth.

In addition to collecting interviews, the project activities are focused on researching historical material, photographs and newspaper articles that testify to the good relations, cooperation and friendship between these two peoples in Kosovo in the past. This points to an equally present historical perspective in Serbian-Albanian relations, which must be taken into account. In academic and activist terms, our role models were Svetlana Broz’s project “Good People in an Evil Time” on positive examples of interethnic relations during the war in BiH, as well as books by Petrit Imami and Sanja Zlatanović on Serbian-Albanian relations. Our conscious endeavor is that this archive of coexistence should be dominated by individuals, not elites, and by the ethos of individual responsibility, not ethno-national delusions.

From the very begining the project has been receiving support and funding from Foundation Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung’s regional office in Belgrade.  In 2021 our project was also supported by the European Fund for Balkan.