A Shift in Ethics. The Serb/Albanian conflict in the vernacular discourse of a conjurer from Kosovo

Marija Ilić


The paper offers the analysis of Vera Jovanović’s (1934) discourse, a well-known local expert in traditional medicine from the Serbian enclave of Vitina in Kosovo. Based on the transcriptions of the ethnolinguistic interview held during the summer of 2003, the present paper provides us with the analysis of Vera’s discourse on the subject of incantation, the traditional magical and medical practice. Within the frame of the conversation about Vera’s incantation practice, a few spontaneous discursive digressions regarding the personal war trauma revealed Vera’s change in attitude towards the local Albanians, which altered from the pre-war “notion of the ethnic (human) Other” to the post-war “dehumanization of the Other”. Thus, as Vera’s discourse indicated, it caused a dramatic shift in her incantation ethics by refusing to give help to the Albanians in need. In the present contribution, it is argued that spontaneous conversational digressions on the Serb/Albanian conflict provide us with valuable insights into the process of ethnic and religious divergence in Kosovo everyday life whereas discourse directly oriented toward the conflict topic introduces the ideological background of an individual.



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