An Ethnography of 'Political Will': Towards a Thick Description of Internal Scripts in Post-War Kosovo’

Authors: Schwandner-Sievers, S. and Ströhle, I.

Editors: Bojicic-Dzelilovic, V., Kostovicova, D. and Woodward, S.L.

Journal: Südosteuropa

Volume: 60

Issue: 4

Pages: 497-513


By using 'political will' as the framing concept, this article explores what ethnographic research can offer to the political sciences and to policy making in understanding opportunities and failures, including the subversion, obstruction and unintended consequences of post-war state-building processes under international tutelage such as the one in Kosovo. The article challenges the external actors’ assumptions of an absence or 'lack of political will' as normative and ethnocentric; indeed, a grounded engagement with internal social and political dynamics suggests the existence of a domestic political will that might not conform to international expectations. The article argues that an ethnographic approach to the study of post-conflict state-building is best suited to reveal the, to outsiders, often hidden scripts and signifiers that underpin such an internally relevant and negotiated 'political will'. On the basis of the authors’ research the article discusses several examples of the ways in which (and why and to what effect) these internal scripts are reproduced, performed and represented in assertions of this political will among and to, exclusively Albanian, target audiences. Along the way the article describes how such internal communication both intentionally and unintentionally eludes international attention and engagement.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers