How is it possible to grasp stories and meanings communicated through bodily and emotional pain? Here, you will meet women who master the art of embodied storytelling. Through symptomatic expressions, symptomspeak, they share critical messages about Kosovo’s violent past and, through the past, about both the present and the future that are otherwise difficult, if not impossible to hear.

Utterances of Distress


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Headache

Worries

Sadness

Blood pressure

Nervousness

Pain

Sleeping problems

Stress

Back pain

Impaired eyesight

Heart problems

Stomach pain

Paralysis

Neck pain

Breathing problems

Chest pain

Feeling cold

Dizziness

Eating problems

Losing one’s mind

Fear

Heat

Losing consciousness

Lack of energy

Nightmares

Noises in the head

Suicidal thoughts

Tiredness

Claustrophobia

Collapsing

Cramps

Diabetes

Losing one’s head

Pressure

[…]

Nervous Talk and Magic


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“I get nervoz a lot.” Shkurta tells me, looking out the window onto the snowy farmyard.

I had meant to start small talk by asking her how she was doing; but, a reference to “nerves” doesn’t allow the space for this. Instead, it creates an opportunity for women to describe their pain and suffering as well as their dissatisfaction and frustration with the wider context of their experience within the family, the community, and the state.

So, I asked: “What happens when you feel that way?”

“I have headaches, I have low blood pressure, I have nervoz. Sometimes, something sour comes up and I feel […]

International Day of the Disappeared – Torn between Hope and Despair


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Today is the International Day of the Disappeared. Sitting on the floor, with our backs pressed against the couch, Teuta and I watch televised pictures of hundreds of people marching through Kosovo’s major cities demanding to know the fate of their loved ones. Women, dressed in black, solemnly carry oversized portraits of their husbands, sons, and fathers. White banners are held high calling for truth and justice from local and international authorities as the sounds of wreath ceremonies, interviews, and speeches, echo in the room.

Behind us, on the living room wall, hangs a large frame with the portraits and names of fourteen […]

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