I share this with trepidation: The story of Kuqi

I am sharing this post knowing that my mother will probably yell at me later but I am going to take a risk. For a few years now a rather strange man has followed me around Tirana when I have stayed here for research periods. I’m not sure why but this gentleman would approach me often and ramble incoherent sentences about only God knows what, and while at first I thought he was a drunk with a few loose screws, several incidents from last fall forced me to contact the police as he had begun to stalk me, at times aggressively. Now I know it may sound crazy that the first time this man ever came up to me was in 2009, and that the first time I ever contacted the police was in 2013, but seriously it was only until last fall that it turned into stalking and verbal harassment.

So I am sharing this post now for a few reasons. First off, this situation with Kuqi, that’s his nickname, has become one of anthropological inquiry, as many of my friends, neighbors, and the police here did not (and maybe still do not) quite comprehend the situation as I did, or if they did, they never saw it as dangerous. Annoying, maybe. Bothersome, sure. But never dangerous. Even though my friends helped, just yesterday one of them was saying that I blew the entire thing out of proportion. As such, part of the reason I am blogging is to dig deeper into categories, phenomena, and how people make sense of their worlds. This especially comes out in the video as various people in the story try to help me understand what’s really going on, as if I don’t know. This brings me to the video. I am now experimenting with what I’m terming for the moment “performance ethnography”, and I’m doing so through the use of video. I envision this as part storytelling, part ethnography, and a way to get anthropology off of paper. I’m not exactly sure where this is headed but some friends encouraged me to try this out, so I am. I will say that the story is pretty long, so just know that beforehand. Also, it has taken some time for me to be able to blog about this, and yes now many parts of the story are very comical but they weren’t always so.

I think this story though sheds light on many aspects that need further examination, including the fact that many of my friends were more concerned about how this matter would cloud my view of Albania and Albanians; still when some friends hear about it they immediately get worried that I might think badly of the entire country, or worse, tell others that this is what Albania is like. Also this story opens the question of how people handle notions of verbal harassment and stalking. This especially comes out with multiple people telling me that there was nothing they could actually “do” about the situation. I also think that maybe cases such as this one really problematize the concept of “the ordinary” or “the everyday life”.  It’s really made me question things that I might think of as extraordinary that others do not.

Here it is the story of Kuqi: