An Ethnographic Approach
Edited by Davide Torsello
Chapter 5: The making of citizenship against corruption in Kosovo: protest, lies, and the public good
Corruption in Kosovo has been researched from a variety of perspectives and methodologies, as well as with various research and policy goals in mind. Dominated by quantitative and positivistic studies, where social and historical contexts are seen as direct contributors to corruption, or disregarded at best, the said research takes for granted the need to understand and inquire into socio-economic and cultural relations. Cultural practices and traditions, often read as backwardness, remnants of socialism, or post-war criminality, are cited as most frequent enabling factors, if not determinants of Kosovo’s high rates of corruption. Therefore, the need to build “a rule of law culture” is frequently followed by discussions on Kosova’s “transition to democratic governance and [need to] strengthen its institutions.” As Samuel Zbogar, the head of the EU Office in Kosovo and EU Special Representative has declared: “In regard to corruption we have to build together, together with the laws, a culture of non-tolerance on corruption. This is the European way.” Most people who were consulted for this research have made similar claims: “If we wish to become European, enter the EU, we must fight corruption.” Nonetheless, understandings of rule of law, “culture of corruption,” or the “European way,” do not mean the same thing to all those who use this terminology. While this research cannot address all of these issues in detail, it does ask questions that any study which aims to link the shifting understandings and practices of what are considered social norms and values, as well as experiences with public and private institutions, should take into account. These are: (1) how knowledge about corruption and socio-cultural values is produced; (2) how this knowledge resonates among citizens, the forms of consent and dissent they generate; (3) the ways in which access and resources are distributed (validated) by emerging political and economic formations. To date no ethnographies of corruption have been produced on Kosovo. The research presented here is a first step, as well as an argument for the necessity of deeper ethnographic inquiry into how the legal, economic, and social worlds collide to produce structures, experiences, practices, and understandings of corruption. Having conducted ethnographic research in Albania, Smoki Musaraj argues that: “rather than being an undisputable form of knowledge about corruption, the making, publication, and interpretation of the data in . . . corruption perception survey suggests a series of translations and mistranslations regarding the legitimate or illegitimate market transactions and the means to address them on the ground” (2013). The same claim can be made of numerous surveys conducted in Kosovo, although it is impossible to treat them all here.
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