The article presents myths and stereotypes manifested in Serbo-Albanian relations in the years 1878-1912 as a significant influence that shaped the attitude of Serbs towards Albanians from the Kosovo vilayet in that period. The study is narrowed down to this Osman province as the scene of a full spectrum of neighbourly relations between representatives of both nations, not free from dramatic clashes and bloody incidents. The attitude of Serbs to Albanians was determined by the viewpoint of myths as well as the presence of stereotype images and descriptions, so the treatment of the topic takes into account the outlook of the Serbian elites (from Belgrade, the local elite of Kosovo, and Serbian diplomatic representatives in service abroad). The testimonies left by them provided source evidence accessible directly in the documentary material, and indirectly in the works of historians who used and interpreted the material. The article also refers to the author's own findings, included in his as yet unpublished doctoral dissertation (Serbs and Albanians in the Years 1878-1918, June 2005). In disclosing the myths present in Serbo-Albanian relations on the turn of the 19th and 20th century, thus also in the attitude of the Serbian elite to Albanians, and reflected as well in the then emerging 'Albanian issue', attention is drawn to the Serbian myth of Kosovo, the Serbian myth of the 'Golden Age', Serbian and Albanian heroic myths and the Albanian myth of the nation's origin. The fact that Serbs justified their nation's rights to the territory of the Kosovo vilayet by referring to the first of the above mentioned myths whereas Albanians based their claims to the disputed territories on last one, inevitably led to conflicts, which often evolved from milder forms to open confrontations with the use of force.
W. Szczepanski, Instytut Zachodni, Instytut Naukowo-Badawczy, ul. Mostowa 27, 61-854 Poznan, Poland
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