Institute of the Serbian Academy of
Sciences and Art
to the Book of Noel Malcolm
Kosovo - A Short History
This Scientific Discussion
The Discussion on Noel Malcolm's book Kosovo. A Short History was scheduled
for early April 1999, but it had to be postponed owing to the NATO aggression.
We invited some thirty colleagues to take part in the Discussion, notably
historians but also art historians, archaeologists, Orientalists and
political scientists. As a matter of course, we also invited the author
of the book Noel Malcolm. We have recently received his letter (fax)
telling us that he was not able to attend the Discussion.
Our historiography does not pride itself on a very rich tradition of
scientific discussions. Many books have been published here (in Pristina
and other Yugoslav centres), but also abroad, calling for impartial
scientific appraisal. As a rule, these books used to be passed over
in silence, or even met with a kind of haughtiness, and in the course
of time such unscientific attitudes became an accepted system of knowledge
which it was very difficult to counteract, and today it is even more
difficult to do so.
Needless to say, the motifs for this Discussion are scientific. It was
not organized because the book in question is worthy of it as a scientific
work, but because it deals with a phenomenon deserving to be thoroughly
discussed. Noel Malcolm's book Kosovo. A Short History is not a scientific
work, yet the general public, and even some professional circles, have
accepted it as an objective presentation of the past, notably the past
of Kosovo. The publicity it has received in many media in the West as
well as its eager inclusion in the holdings of many libraries bear witness
Noel Malcolm's book is undoubtedly a phenomenon. In other words, it
demonstrates the extent of the betrayal of the historical truth and
the manipulation of the past of nations, regions or states for the sake
of the political ends of the day. It was a commonplace view that such
books are possible only in totalitarian societies. But we can see that
the appearance of such books is also possible in a milieu which, until
recently at least, could not be called totalitarian, and that it is
possible within a historiog-raphy excelling in great authors and trustworthy
The colleagues about to talk about this book will throw light on various
aspects of this work ranging from its basic methodological and theoretical
approach, its research conception, to its documentary reliability and
Noel Malcolm has begun his studies of South-East Europe recently, at
the time when the process of disintegration of the Yugoslav state was
beginning. So he very rapidly became an expert in the history of the
"regions go-ing through a crisis" and of "unstable regions".
He has produced a short history of Bosnia, to be followed by this one
of Kosovo, so that he can be expected to manufacture "a short history"
of Dagestan or Chechnya tomorrow. He resembles a little, in everything,
a "holy warrior" brandishing a pen in his hand. With his "history"
of the regions with which he deals he caters to the demands of the political
moment. In this particular case, to the demands of the Great Albanian
project and NATO political plans in South-Eastern Europe.