My final project was a proposal for an online exhibition and archive that aims to become a public collaborative space for an international community of survivors, academics and the general public; and a starting point for an expansive archive on an important period in the authoritarian regime of Albania, 1970-1978. This project is centered on the 1972 Albanian Song Festival.
I remember my parents whispering about the festival when I was a young child in communist Albania. My father used to sing me songs secret songs from the festival in the morning, (they were banned in the 1980s) changing some of the words to dedicate them to me. I included this event in my research for a different project a few years ago, more as a nostalgic act than a particular interest. In the process I learned how crucial it was to the remaining decades of communist and the aftermath, how it changed the direction of the authoritarian regime, in particular to the feminist movement. I should mention that the word ‘feminist’ is a bit anachronistic because the word was never used during the communist period, the word ‘women’s emancipation’ was used to describe the official movement.
I had not considered revisiting research on the festival, but during our early visualization and mapping assignments I realized that it would make an excellent focus to discuss authoritarianism, anti-feminist movements, collective memory, not only in Albania, but bringing it in conversation with other authoritarian movements. This would also allow me to investigate the rhetoric of authoritarian regime and gender violence during regime changes, which is something I have been interested in for a long time.
As we looked at digital humanities projects during this class, I was very excited by how many of them were produced by historians, and how diverse the projects were. I read Blevins’ article during the first week of class and I understood very little about what intervention it was trying to make, but when we revisited it later in the course, it helped my imagine this format as my capstone project, because it can include an archive, develop a curriculum, and utilize the technical skills that I am acquiring in this program. I can also build on my research with a greater focus. I really hope that this project meets with some approval from own great leader, Prof. Gold and becomes a reality.
Finally, I wanted to say that I am incredibly grateful to Patricia for giving me the courage to go ahead with this proposal, because I enjoyed it very much and I learned a great deal about current research on Albania and the larger academic community and the political landscape. My parents live in Albania and we have a lot more to talk about on FaceTime thanks to this project. As it turns out, I am always grateful for a few extra hours of political discussions.
Many of you have said this already, but I wanted to add my special thanks as well. I am very grateful for every single person in this class. I have read and enjoyed all of your blog posts, and conversations. They have challenged and inspired me. I hope y’all have a wonderful holiday season and I hope to see everyone in other classes!!