From Inclusive Identities to Inclusive Societies:

Exploring Complex Social Identity in the Western Balkans

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October - Netherlands and Belgium

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Promotion of project results at universities in the Netherlands and Belgium

On October 2016, our team members Edona Maloku Bërdyna, Iris Žeželj, and Marija Branković had two study visits to promote project results and establish/ expand initiatives for collaborative projects with colleagues from the Netherlands and Belgium. They held three research seminars, followed by a number of bilateral research meetings with researchers at Utrecht University, University of Groningen, and University of Leuven, respectively.

In the research seminars, the team showed the extent of complexity and inclusiveness among youth in the region and how this shapes intergroup relations in the countries involved in the project. Main findings revealed that youth perceive national, ethnic and religious identities as highly overlapping and exclusive (not able to accommodate persons that share some but not all of one’s identities), therefore hindering inter-ethnic relations and reconciliation. Seminars were followed by interactive discussions and feedback from other researchers for potential policy implications as well as intervention programs that could address these issues. The seminars attracted high interest, with participants coming from a range of institutions: Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam, European Research Center on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER), University of Groningen, and the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology at Leuven University.

The team also had several research meetings with colleagues from these institutions to establish links for possible research, mobility and intervention projects. One of the first outcomes of these meetings has already been initiated; our team members have joined a large-scale cross-national research project on intergroup contact and support for social change in advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Two useful collaborations were also established: a colleague from Albania doing her research at Leuven University (Alba Jasini) and a colleague from Israel doing his research at both IDC Herzlya and Groningen University (Aharon Levi) will be joining us for Belgrade regional conference on November 12th. Finally, an important outcome of the visit is a draft for an intervention program to be implemented in Western Balkans; this too will be further developed on a regional conference in Belgrade.



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