Kosovo Oral History Initiative (KOHI)

The Kosovo Oral History Initiative (KOHI) is a collective of women of different generations, nationalities and competences whose mission is to record life stories. It is born from a collaboration between the Kosova Women’s Network (Pristina) and The New School for Public Engagement (New York).

There is an evident lacuna in dealing with the past beyond the limited time of the conflict, and this has allowed for history and past events to either be erased or hijacked by official ideological narratives. It is for this reason that KOHI focuses on life histories and creates a multilingual, multimedia and user-friendly virtual archive of Kosovo history. Life stories reveal both the context of people’s behaviour and the personal choices shaping their context that also influence the conflict and its perception.

Recording individual voices provides the foundation for new ways of thinking about the past while engaging with the present. With KOHI’s collection of hundreds of hours of interviews with individuals from all walks of life, the Kosovo archive helps people understand the formation and contestation of national identities from above and below. It reveals not only ethnic tensions and victimization, but also cooperation, adaptation, and the variety of individual experiences that cannot be always reduced to collective ones. Because identities play an important role in state building, this scholarly work is as crucial as the work of policy makers and reconciliation/negotiation processes.

The bulk of the work on the platform has been completed on a voluntary basis, while KOHI has recently been the recipient of private donations and funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). forumZFD participates predominantly in the activities related to the collection of oral histories in Serbian/Bosnian and facilitating translation into these languages. By doing so, we contribute to the creation of a culturally diversified (history of) Kosovo as a place of coexistence of multi-perspective memories.

Other activities