The Balkan Society for Theory and Practice held its first workshop from July 18th – August 1st of 2018 in Prizren, Kosovo. The goal of the workshop was to orient theoretical and organizational tools rooted in decolonialism and post-colonialism toward the often-neglected region of the Balkans.
We gathered participants and lecturers from all over the globe, and from a range of disciplines (including philosophy, anthropology, art history, performance art, and political theory) to discuss the possibilities for thinking decoloniality in post-socialist Yugoslavia.
The daily workshop structure incorporated two presentations a day, reserving two hours for each participant. During these two hours, the presenters shared highlights of their work, and received feedback from the group in the effort to advance their project. Topics presented during the 2018 workshop ranged from the politics of documenting folk art and music in Bosnia, the fictional representations of Albanians in literature, ethnic and racial discrimination against Albanians in Europe, and the current "refugee crisis" as it has affected the region, among others which can be found here. Participants reported that the structure of the workshop allowed them to challenge their intellectual and political positions, engage with new disciplines, and move their respective projects forward toward possible publication.
Considering that the BSTP aims to provide a space for discussion and critical thinking for the wider public as well, evenings were reserved for public lectures, films, panels, and art performances. Throughout the duration of the workshop, evening lectures shared works on the Balkans from a variety of perspectives. Marina Gržinić and Tjaša Kancler held a panel that brought decolonial theory emerging from the global South to bear upon the particular conditions within Eastern Europe. Piro Rexhepi explored expressions of queerness within eastern European Muslim communities. Paola Bacchetta provided a map of the theoretical trends within and between decolonial, post-colonial, post-socialist thought, and epistemologies of the south. Boris Buden discussed the politics of language and national identity, especially as concerns diasporic Eastern European communities. Sezgin Boynik challenged the usual schematization of the Cold War cultural politics as the contradiction between capitalist (Western) forms of free expression and socialist (Eastern) forms of committed art. And panelists Nita Luci, Eli Krasniqi, and Linda Gusia rounded off the 2018 BSTP lecture with a sociological and anthropological analysis of the roles of women during various Kosovo nationalist movements.
In addition to the lectures, BSTP hosted an art performance and screened a documentary on the post-Ottoman eastern European region. The Kosovo-based art group, HAVEIT performed a piece titled, "Jepi me Goje/Use Your Mouth," which highlighted the precarity of the LGBTQA community in both public and private spheres in Kosovo. While, co-directors Piro Rexhepi and Ajkuna Tafa shared and discussed their film, "A Post-Ottoman Trilogy: Skopje-Sarajevo-Salonika." Lectures were attended mainly by the local community in Prizren, as well as other cities in Kosovo with the majority coming from the capital, Prishtina.
he inaugural BSTP workshop was held at Kino Lumbardhi, which is a former cinema, a civic space and an independent cultural institution in Prizren, Kosovo. Lumbardhi, built in the 50s, was left vacant from 1999 until 2015 (with various exceptions when the space was used as a club for elderly or an illegal coffee bar, etc). In 2014 the Privatization Agency of Kosovo decided to liquidate Lumbardhi as a public property and turn it into a parking lot. The community of Prizren fought this attempt to privatize the space. In 2015, Ares Shporta founded the Lumbardhi Foundation and was appointed as its executive director. This summer Kino Lumbardhi officially became a public institution belonging to the city of Prizren, under the administration of the ministry of culture.
While the workshop has ended, BSTP now welcomes submissions for the special issue "Breaking with Transition," a collaboration between BSTP and Feminist Critique Journal. Submissions are due on September 1st, 2018, please click here for more information. For those interested and in need for further information, you can contact the team of editors directly ot firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2018 workshop received great feedback from local and international institutions and civil society organizations. The team is now engaged in organizing the 2019 edition of the workshop which will take place in Prishtina, Kosovo. Detailed information on the 2019 theme, application procedure, and working opportunities will be published on the BSTP website.
Event was done in cooperation with transform! europe.