The Kosovo-Albanian elite and high culture is primarily concerned with enacting representation of ethno-nationalistic politics based upon a Grand Story of oppression and resistance. Among what I call the ‘older high culture’, political leadership is often a continuation of social organisation and kinship relations. As international actors became increasingly involved in Kosovo, a new high culture has emerged, consisting of returning emigrants and ‘trans-nationals’; they play an important role as mediators between the older high culture and the international elite in the process of introducing democracy and governance according to international European standards.
There is a widespread conception of a ‘hierarchy of nations’, referring to the symbolic and often economical capital of the world’s nation. The international elite, and in particular its military forces, contribute to enhancing this hierarchy, through the usage of national symbols. It also rests upon a common regional perception of nations. Because ethnic groups are increasingly incorporated through the establishment of political parties and interest organisations under the UN protectorate, ethnicity has become a major denominator in political life. While the international elite are pushing for ‘multiculturalism’, the current situation is more that of ‘ethnocracy’ and ‘plural society’; each group has power according to its size and capacity to defend its interests.
There are indications of a strengthened territorial identity, as a result of the creation of democratic self-governance institutions in Kosovo. This is because ethnic minorities are incorporated into society and perceived as a legitimate part of the population and because the government institutions are increasingly perceived as servicing the whole population and operating according to international standards of ‘good governance’. This identity is supra-ethnic and based upon a civic perception of human rights and citizenship; it enhances a civic nationalism that can counter-balance the dominant ethno-nationalistic politics of today.