Locating Albanian otherness via the black female body : an ethnographic inquiry of (non)belonging

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West, Chelsi Amelia

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This report is an ethnographic exploration of othering and belonging in Albania . In the past twenty years there has been a significant amount of scholarship addressing the construction of difference and collective identity in the Balkans. Much of that research has focused on processes of Orientalism, historical analyses ethnic conflict, and nationalism. The work presented here has been shaped by these discussions but is also an attempt to further deconstruct identity and nationalism vis-à-vis the ethnographic examination of belonging. Specifically, this paper addresses my positionality in the field and the ways that this positionality allows for a particular inquiry of belonging. In this report I address how my identification as a Black American female shapes my day-to-day interactions with Albanian informants, and how these encounters can be used to probe representations of what I term “Albanianess”. In doing so, I reveal the ways in which the ethnographic encounter allows for an interrogation of meaning, public intimacy, difference, and local attachments to identity.




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