Braha, Gentiana (2019) An exploration of displacement within diaspora and the use of memory and film to find cultural identity within cultural hybridity. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In 1999, Kosovo fought a brutal war against their neighbouring country, Serbia, in an attempt to gain independence and free itself from the attempt at ethnic cleansing by Serbian soldiers. The Serbian army massacred thousands of Kosovan Albanian ethnic Muslims to gain the territory they believed was their right. Over a million Kosovans migrated during this time, leaving their homes, relatives and lives behind in search of safety. They had to find temporary refuge in peaceful neighbouring countries, such as Macedonia and Albania, where some lived with volunteer host families; however, many lived in refugee camps along with their fellow natives. For Albanians who had to flee the war, the hardest part was leaving their homes, not knowing if they would ever return.

In recent years, researchers have used different methods to investigate the effects associated with migration and the implications it has on individuals, but also within diaspora communities around the world which share a similar heritage or homeland. Displacement is generally seen as a factor strongly related to refugees and the subsequent generational families who attempt to understand their ancestral roots. This distinction is further exemplified within the literature examined. Hirsch and Miller’s (2011) Rites of Return illustrates this point clearly by allowing us to better understand the impulses of Jay Prosser on his meditation of complicated family roots and the longing to connect to them. The past has many components and, through memory, we are able to explore a personal and social construction of identity. In addition, it is important to remember that memory is vital to experience; however, it is notoriously known that memory is not as reliable as a definite fact, but, rather, a reconstruction of the truth and more so for traumatic memories as these can be suppressed. As such, it is important to recognise that using film creates a new way of documenting memory and history.

The relationship between diasporas and displacement goes hand in hand with cultural hybridity; therefore, it is crucial that the following thesis discusses the implications that connect the migrant to their host society and how this has personally impacted their cultural identity. Hall and Du Gay (1996) hold ‘Identification as a construction, a process never completed - always “in process”. It is not determined in the sense that it can always be "won” or “lost”, sustained or abandoned’ Their book, Questions of Cultural Identity, questions cultural identity and who needs it, a statement that demonstrates the flexibility of identity and the idea that it is always in process, allowing for endless possibilities.

In the 2018 World Cup, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, two ethnic Albanians, who were raised in Switzerland, were fined by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for celebrating scoring against the Serbian national football team. They were using their hands to symbolise the Albanian two-headed eagle, commonly used by ethnic Albanians as a gesture of pride. This was seen as a political move. However, in regard to the research, this shows a great deal of nationalism as, regardless of the fact that they both were raised away from Kosovo, they chose to embrace their cultural roots and were able to express their cultural hybridity even during such a fundamental event.

FINAL THESIS - BRAHA.pdf - Accepted Version
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