From Inclusive Identities to Inclusive Societies:

Exploring Complex Social Identity in the Western Balkans

29. April - Kosovo

Conference on Social Identities of youth in Kosovo

Conference on Social Identities of youth in Kosovo: Interplay between ethnic, religious and national belonging

On April 29th, RIT Kosovo hosted a conference on Social Identities of youth in Kosovo: Interplay between ethnic, religious and national belonging, where results of a recent research project on this topic were presented and discussed. The conference was led by our faculty member, Edona Maloku Bërdyna, who is also the National Leader of this research project that explored the issue of theses social identities in four countries in Western Balkans: Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The main goal of the conference was to present Kosovo’s research findings and examine how they could be used to foster cooperation between ethnic communities, primarily between Kosovar Albanians and Kosovar Serbs. To do this, the conference brought together stakeholders that are active in minority issues, youth initiatives and media, including Mr. Adrian Zeqiri, from the European Center for Minority Issues Kosovo (ECMI Kosovo), Ms. Venera Çoçaj, from Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo (YIHR Kosovo) and Mr. Eraldin Fazliu, a political journalist from Kosovo 2.0. The panel also included project partners from Macedonia: Dr. Ali Pajaziti, from South East European University (SEEU Macedonia), who presented the situation of national, ethnic and religious identification among ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, and Mr. Admir Qose, Editor in-chief of Alsat Television in Macedonia, who talked about the role of media in overcoming inter-ethnic stereotypes. The conference was attended by over 40 participants, mainly coming from the youth sectors of non-governmental organizations, students from RIT Kosovo and students from University of Prishtina.

The main conclusions of the conference were that inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo remain difficult and particularly stand out compared to other countries, with over 70% of participants reporting to never have had contact with members of ethnic outgroup. This is because there are still singular forms of identifications prevailing among youth, and they are primarily based on ethnic belonging, or on highly intersected identities (e.g., an intersection of ethnic and religious identities only). Youth in general is little willing to accept and include others who differ on ethnic, religious or national background as part of own groups. Despite this, however, youth does show positive potential that could be used by policy stakeholders to improve inter-ethnic relations. For example, youth is aware of the extent to which these social identities (especially ethnic identities) are highly politicized and used by political elites. Most importantly, youth in Kosovo shows relatively high respect for group equality and is willing to work towards overcoming inter-ethnic divides.

The recording of the conference has been released at the American university's channel (the host of the conference) and can be accessed here:

The media announcement can be accessed here



Project is supported within the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans (RRPP), which is run by the University of Fribourg upon a mandate of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans