We took Georg Simmel’s notion of “stranger,” who “comes today and stays tomorrow,” the potential wanderer, who, “although he has gone no further, has not quite got over the freedom of coming and going,” – to better identify those natives of other countries who came to Kosovo especially after 1999, and lived in Kosovo for an extended period of time, and/or currently live in Kosovo. They are officials of international institutions, staff of non-governmental organizations, business people, journalists, teachers, etc. They are commonly known as “the internationals.” They are not simply foreigners, they are part of Kosovo itself: they participate in local life in different fields and varying positions of power, and they are also co-creators, with Kosovars, of a transnational space which is cultural, social and political. In the words of Simmel, they are not unlike “inner enemies,” whose membership within the Kosovo society involves both being outside and confronting it. By collecting their life histories, we aim to shed light on the complicated status of outsiders/insiders and on what constructs this divide.

Slavica Jovanović


… when I started working on that April 1, 1990, at the time Albanians and Serbs worked together at that firm. And things started to… and that lasted… things started to change […] I started working when things started to change because the… because the secretary at the time, who was an Albanian, older, an older gentleman, got fired and I, I mean, they gave me his position. And my, my first task, this was my job, was to write the decision to fire Albanians. And I did that.

[…] The director at the time, a Serb, sort of implemented the policies. Of course I always pointed out that this isn’t according to the law, that we should follow [legal] procedures, that we should prove that the person has done something wrong and what he had done wrong and that he cannot fire people just like that, take the decision, refer to an amendment, who knows what, you read the amendment halfway and you write the decision, all of that was stupid, and yet.

Around eight o’clock I asked the director, ‘Should I give this to them, should I hand them the decisions?’ ‘No, no, wait a bit.’ Nine, ten passed and at eleven o’clock he invited me to his office and said, ‘Now you can hand them the decisions.’ In that moment around ten men appeared in his office, those Serbs prominent in the company and in the surrounding area, who were all armed, only later I understood that. So, they were there to protect him from their possible reactions, yes. And they sent me, of course, to hand the decisions to these people who did nothing wrong, and they took it and said to me, ‘We know that you are not part of this and we know you have your reasons [for doing it], of course, it is something that we too would do.’ And they said, ‘OK,’ and took the decisions and signed them and left the company.

Cristina Marí


Here I am a foreigner. I am an expat […] even though I have lived here, now it’s been five years, I have learned the language […] My partner is from here […] And I don’t see myself as an expat or as a foreigner, I always find the word expat charged and loaded with status and privileges […]  especially here in Kosovo, where these is such a big international community […] I often get asked here, ‘Do you work in EULEX?’ or, ‘Do you work in KFOR?” It’s either one or the other. They never think that I might work in a civil society organization […]  

And that also comes with ideology, because these institutions have policies or have implemented work here that has some consequences or, and did or not fulfill the expectations of society here. So we’re coming back to how I feel here […] I always feel that I must be careful because I’m not seen as a person from here […] And I always think, if people know me, they, they will understand what I’m trying to do and they will not see it as a, or I hope they will not see it as something, as a patronizing approach. Or as a foreigner trying to tell them how things work, ‘Because she is a foreigner, in her country things are different, things work and she can…’ No, actually, in my country things don’t work that well either (laughs).