Harnessing Tradition: Customary Law and State-Formation in Albania, 1919-1945


Dissertation Fellowships in East European Studies




This project focuses on the process of early state-formation in post-independence Albania, particularly in relation to Albania’s northern highland populations. One of the key challenges faced by Albania’s centralizing authorities was the role of the kanun, or unwritten system of customary laws, practiced by Albania’s northern highland populations. The historical research component of this study examines policies implemented by the central authorities vis-à-vis the kanun and the highland populations developed and changed throughout this formative period of Albanian state-formation. The study theorizes how the state, while claiming to reform what it commonly termed “primitive” populations, appropriated the practice of customary law.