Interview with Dana Landau
April 24, 2019
In 2018, Landau won Huttenbach Prize for her article published in Nationalities Papers. Learn more about what inspired her then and what she is working on now.
ASN: In 2018, your article "The quest for legitimacy in independent Kosovo: the unfulfilled promise of diversity and minority rights” won Huttenbach Prize. The Prize is awarded annually for the best paper published in Nationalities Papers in the course of the previous year. Can you tell us what your article is about?
DL: The article starts with the observation that when Kosovo declared itself independent in 2008, it did so neither as a nation-state of its large Albanian majority, nor as a purely “civic” or neutral state of all its citizens. Rather, I describe it as a “state of communities”, a framing that focuses on Kosovo’s multi-ethnic character (e.g. through ethnically neutral national symbols, and a wordless anthem), and its provision of extensive minority rights. This is understood as an attempt to increase the new state’s legitimacy internationally, and to generate buy-in from its Serb minority domestically. However, the focus on diversity inadvertently created a new, internal legitimacy contestation from within Kosovo’s Albanian population, as I illustrate with the example of the opposition movement “Lëvizja Vetëvendosje”.
ASN: How does the article fit with your other work?
DL: I wrote the article during the final year of my PhD that focused on state-building in Kosovo, and which resulted from my fascination with the omnipresence of the term “multi-ethnicity” during the time I spent in Pristina, initially working for an international organisation, and later as a researcher. While the article was the result of my immersion into the Kosovo context, it is also a reflection of my broader interests in legitimation strategies of post-conflict states and in the interactions between domestic and international actors in post-conflict peace- and state-building, particularly when it comes to the “management” of ethnic diversity.
ASN: How long did you work on this article?
DL: Since the article grew naturally out of my PhD and earlier MA research, one could say it is the result of 6 years of reflection on Kosovo, several visits, and dozens of interviews conducted there. In a more narrow sense, it was actually a call for papers for a conference I attended that inspired me to look at my interview materials and impressions from Kosovo from the angle of nationalism and legitimacy. Once I had the idea for the basic argument, it took a few weeks to write the piece, and a few more to re-write it following helpful comments by the discussant on my panel, before the first draft was ready for submission to Nationalities Papers.
ASN: How long did the Nationalities Papers review process take? Who was your managing editor? And what was your experience with the reviewers?
DL: The process was managed by Prof Peter Rutland and was extremely efficient – an encouraging start for me, as this was my first experience submitting to a peer-reviewed journal. I received comments from two reviewers one month after my initial article submission. The comments were constructive and precise, helping me to clarify parts of the argument, sharpen the text, and pointing me to literature I had not been aware of. Once I submitted the revised piece, I got news that it was accepted within days.
ASN: What are you currently working on?
DL: In the past two years I broadened my horizons beyond the Balkans to study peace processes more broadly, and I continue to be interested in questions of group representation, inclusion, and diversity in relation to peace-making and mediation. I’m also re-writing some of my thesis materials into a book manuscript, for which I continue to follow developments in the Balkans, and I returned to Kosovo a few months ago for a short research project on human rights defenders in civil society.