- Education, gender and religion: identity transformations among Kosovo Albanians in London
- Kostovicova, Denisa; Prestreshi, Albert
- Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics and Political Science; The School of Slavonic and East European StudiesUniversity College London
- Nov 2003
To explore identity transformations of the Kosovo Albanian diaspora in the UK by looking at the issues of education, gender and religion.
The report is based on fieldwork conducted among Kosovan Albanians in the Greater London Area in autumn 2001 and summer 2002. A total of 32 semi-structured interviews were carried out: 17 with men and 15 with women. All participants arrived in the UK prior to the outbreak of armed conflict in Kosovo. The ages of the participants ranged from early twenties to late thirties. Findings in the report are also informed by participant observation which was conducted at the same time as the interviews. This included visits to informal social gatherings, cultural events and religious celebrations.
The opening up of educational opportunities in the UK for Kosovan Albanians has meant that Albanian students have developed more extensive contacts with non-Albanians. As a result differences in social status began to emerge [those who obtained further education are highly regarded] and greater integration in British society have been encouraged. Female interviewees almost uniformly described the ‘exile experience’ as liberating because it has alleviated social pressures. Women’s sense of empowerment has come about as a result of education or work, or a combination of the two. As a result, it is the female interviewees who are either students or employees that appear best integrated into the host society. The majority of the female participants declared an intention to marry an Albanian man and all observed that [unlike women] Albanian men are not reprimanded for having non-Albanian partners. Women are assigned the role of guardian of the national boundaries and a commitment to the Albanian national culture and heritage is dominant amongst these women. The diasporic experience has not prompted a major change in the practice and perception of religion among the Kosovan Albanian community. Muslim Albanian Kosovans have chosen to differentiate themselves from other Muslims in the UK.
The uniform interpretation of Albanian identity is being challenged by alternative views of Albanian-ness, which are beginning to emerge as a result of the political, social and economic and cultural influences in the host country.
- Resource Type
- Journal article
- Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 29 (6)