Street naming policies – Walking through Pristina

The state of Kosovo has been created 14 years ago. We created our symbols and signs, and developed institutions together with their legality; as an overcoming of the previous political status. Before being an independent state, despite the previous state influence, we had a cohesion of our national identity. This socialization through the history of collective memory has served us even today, as the identity of each one of us.

When we walk by our favorite places or in the dense ones to have something done, we can see that each road nowadays is named differently. These names are familiar to all of us. But it should be mentioned that during these years, we have talked about Kosovo in its own words. – Did you see Kosovo versus Malta? / – Majlinda brought our flag in Europe. / -Which library are you going to? – The National one. / – Where are we meeting? – At Bill Clinton. And so on. These parts create a cultural habitus which contributes to the coloring of the national identity as from the roads and many other cultural elements, such as the content of primary textbooks, the names of institutions, artistic or sports events.

Therefore, based on the treatment of nationalization, is treated the modernist theory, the idea of which is that an entity can develop as a nation thanks to modernity, considering the press, the media, and politicization. States like the USA and Germany have both different nationalization paths, one thanks to state’s modern politics and the other thanks to the elements inherited from tribal ages.
Although these elements interact with people with a strong Albanian identity, there is the possibility of changing the individual identification among new generations. A re-consideration of the taken-for-granted future would rise the question: How will Kosovars feel after a few generations with their variating national habitus?

All this started as a discussion in the academy, inone of the courses of the University of Pristina. This topic has been of particular interest due to its relevance and actuality.

In order to analyze the positioning of policy-making and that of a part of the national habitus, we decided to analyze the streets, boulevards and squares of Pristina. The object of the study is this, given that it is an institutional cultural element accessible on a daily basis by different people, and dense enough for the institutional reflection in them. / to mention that it is only part of the habitus.

From the published list of the portal of the municipality of Pristina, which is open to everyone, 465 streets, 3 boulevards and 14 squares have been analyzed. To find the form of cultural influence, the variables are classified into “Kosovar”, “Albanian”, “International”. This division could also be a kind of spectrum, identifying them with those with degrees; a little more Kosovar or a lot. But this form of classification has been followed for simplicity porpouses.

The identification of the variables has been done according to the association of the national activity of the subjects. So, the way their daily-life activity is intertwined with the notion of Albanian or Kosovar nationality; thus excluding their demographic data, someone may have been from Theranda, but fought for the liberation of the country, or someone from Shkodra but promoted the independence of Kosovo. The notion of Albanian identification has been broad, being connected with the cohesion of the collective memory of the two contents of the classifications. The Kosovar one has been very narrow, including mainly politicized elements. And International as the classification that has nothing to do culturally with the others, but which have been recognition awards for the worldwide contribution.

Analyzing the streets of the city has resulted in a majority of Albanian identification. This was the expected result from the hypothesis. Albanian identification is up to 82%, with 381 street names, Kosovar identification is 5% with 22 street names, International identification has 3% with 14 street names, and no data has been found for 18% of the list.

Kosovar entities have mainly been personalities connected to the independence of Kosovo and settlements of Kosovo. The subjects identified as Albanians were KLA [UÇK] fighters, personalities from Kosovo who contributed to national issues, and prominent personalities from Albania. The subjects identified as International were mainly scientists and poets from around the world. In general, KLA fighters, World War II fighters, and academics have been distinguished with a large number of designations, thus influencing the results.

Squares and boulevards also had a greater percentage of Albanian association. The squares have had 12 denominations with Albanian identification, and 2 Kosovar ones. The boulevards had 2 names with Albanian identification, and 1 Kosovar.

Although these findings are a form of analyzing only some elements of the cultural habitus of Kosovars, this at least ascertains the cultural elements with which the citizens interact, and the policy-making towards this topic. The results show that the Albanian identification remains convincing, both from the influence of nationalization and of the policy-making. In order to get closer to the creation of a clearer mosaic of this habitus, we need a further elaboration of other elements, and of the very essence of this discussion.

By Arian Vula

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