MAIN INTERVENTION LINES

Three main lines of intervention were identified for Serbia

Serbia

Documentary Series on Serbian and Albanian Relations

Context

Improving Serbian–Albanian relations is considered one of the preconditions for the peace and stability in the Western Balkans and its integration into the EU. In the light of increasing political cooperation between these two nations (under the “Berlin Process”), it is important to debunk some of the prevailing stereotypes in Serbian–Albanian relations. Social sciences play a significant role in this by showing times in history when Serbs and Albanians were not enemies and that there are many cultural and historical links among the two nations.  

There is a number of ongoing and emerging civil society and government initiatives aimed at improving Serbian–Albanian relations. However, despite the increasingly positive environment, social science researchers and their institutions have not developed any substantial collaboration. They cooperate mainly ad hoc and on individual basis. 

Communication of social science research results in the WB region through mainstream media, social media and other, less traditional formats of communication, is rare. Consequently, many significant and interesting research results reach only limited number of people, or specific audiences, while other important audiences do not have appropriate access to these results. 
 

Intervention Logic +
The study: “Figuring Out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations” brings to light different aspects of Serbian–Albanian relations with the aim of challenging currently entrenched hostile perceptions by presenting stories about persons and events excluded from the public discourse, which tell a different story about Serbian-Albanian relations. The study conducted by a group of researchers from Serbia, Albania and Kosovo, and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s RRPP project (Regional Research Promotion Programme) was published in 2016. 

The Study gathered a group of younger generation of Albanian and Serbian researchers who were open to different interpretations of history and Serbian–Albanian relations, and willing to work with their peers from the “other” side. This was an important step forward in establishing links among all three research communities and a model of cooperation that should be further promoted. 
 
In order to ensure greater outreach of the study and spark interest of a wider audience for this unique research, a feature documentary series will be made. The documentary series based on this study would ensure reaching a much wider audience, but would also show why social science is important and how it can help in resolving some of the ‘hot’ issues related to Serbian–Albanian relations. 

PERFORM is supporting a group of researchers from Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, who participated in the study “Figuring Out the Enemy” to continue their cooperation and produce:
  • Comprehensive and high quality video library of interviews and archived videos, accessible to researchers worldwide. This would be an educative web portal, created to host knowledge and a video database. This database will contain interviews with representative politicians and public figures from the region, educative content on Serbian-Albanian relations, documents and texts of common interest. The primary target audience of the online video library will be scholars and social science researchers interested in different aspects of Serbian–Albanian relations. The library can also serve to the media and think tanks as a relevant source of materials for their research and media production.

  • Series of short documentary videos and a feature documentary series on Serbian–Albanian relations, built on the study “Figuring Out the Enemy”. After the launching of the web portal, extensive video production in Serbia, Kosovo and Albania will follow, and all relevant persons for the history and current Serbian-Albanian relations will be interviewed. The purpose of these interviews will be: 1) to shed a light on past events from an individual perspective, thus providing material for a later media and discourse analysis, and 2) to give personal opinions on possible paths for going a step beyond enmity among the two nations. This phase will be followed by a production of a series of short documentaries for media usage, alongside a feature documentary series. Documentary series is intended for the widest audience – general public (particularly younger generations), the media and all those audiences usually not reached by typical academic presentations of research. 

The documentary will be submitted to appropriate festivals and later broadcasted on public televisions of the countries involved. The goal of these documentaries is to offer a different picture of Serbian-Albanian relations throughout history, especially focusing on the unknown private stories about mutual friendship, love and cooperation. 

The role of PERFORM is to provide the initial support to the group, in order to develop the full project proposal and fundraising strategy, so they are able to reach other donors (domestic, such as the ministries of culture, and foreign donors) and obtain the funds necessary for making the online video library and the documentary series. PERFORM has supported the organisation of promotional events of the project idea in Belgrade, Pristina and Tirana. 
The main partners in this intervention are:
  • The Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory from Belgrade, which was the coordinator of the study. 
  • Qendra Multimedia from Prishtina, which co-produced a joint Serbian-Albanian play Romeo and Juliet that attracted a huge audience and public support in the region. 
  • Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Art Studies, Center of Albanian Studies - a successful research unit, which currently operates a Horizon 2020 project as partner institution and cooperates closely with the Albanian Ministry of Culture. 
  • Samaljot Production from Belgrade, which previously produced several documentaries on regional issues.
 
Expected Results +
Results of the immediate intervention include: 
  1. Trailer and promotional material for making of the documentary produced (in–kind contribution of Samaljot production);
  2. Three promotional events organised in Belgrade (end of September 2016), Pristina and Tirana (end of March 2017); 
  3. Full project proposal for making of the online video database and documentary developed; 
  4. Fundraising strategy developed;
  5. Initial funds obtained from donors. 
 
Next steps to expand systemic change +
Making of the documentary movie and the web video database would provide a framework for longer-term cooperation of researchers and their respective institutions. They are the new generation of researchers who, with their socially engaged research, are able to break the dominant discourse on Serbian–Albanian relations and provide alternatives, based on the hard, scientific data. 

Making of such a documentary will also support further cooperation and exchange among researchers from Serbia, Albania and Kosovo. Currently, scientific cooperation is rare and limited to a small number of researchers / academics from each country. There are no longer-term models of cooperation, although there is a plethora of research topics on which they could work together. The documentary will bring together scholars and researchers from Serbia, Kosovo and Albania from various fields of social sciences, humanities, art and media. 
 

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contact information

Serbia
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation SRB
Njegoševa 5/II
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Tel. +381 11 3640 044, +381 11 3640 045
PERFORM-Serbia@helvetas.org

Albania
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
Rruga "Donika Kastrioti" 14, Ap. 15/6L
1000 Tirana, Albania
Tel: +355 4 453 5050
PERFORM-Albania@helvetas.org