Title: The Forgotten Contribution of Women in Two Pre-war Social Movements in Kosovo

Author(s): Rita Berisha
Final project
Year of publication:
Gender and Social Movements
Number of pages:
Supervisors: Valur Ingimundarson
Social movements, women’s role, Kosovo, memory, history


While Kosovar Albanian peaceful resistance in Kosovo has a long history, it has been marginalized in many ways, because of the emphasis on the 1990s armed struggle and wars in the ex-Yugoslavia. After the 1981 protests in Kosovo, the Ilegalja movement – an underground protest movement led by Albanian students and intellectuals – continued protest actions. The counter-measures of the authorities led to the imprisonment of many members, who were not freed until the early 1990s. From the Ilegalja political prisoners emerged the idea of blood feud reconciliation as a necessity to stop the so-called eye for an eye law, which had a long tradition in Kosovo. This essay focuses on the crucial role of women in both movements, which has largely been suppressed because men have taken the credit for their activities. The topic is explored from the perspective of history and collective memory to show how women have been erased from master narratives. The predominant mode of remembering in independent Kosovo has to do with the Kosovo War, which mostly brackets out the period preceding it. Women’s experiences and expectations are studied through interviews and newspapers and photos of statues of men in Prishtina are used to amplify scholarly works, giving an insight into what “should” be remembered and which part of history is neglected.

Documents and links