Kenneth Andresen has received the medal of merit from the president of Kosovo for his contributions to higher education and research.
“I have come to love this country. I have always been met with openness and have many colleagues and friends in Kosovo,” says Professor Kenneth Andresen at the Department of Nordic and Media Studies at the University of Agder (UiA). He recently received the Medal of Merit from the President of Kosovo (Medalja Presidenciale e Meritave) for his contributions to education, research, art and culture.
Andresen received the medal also for making Kosovo better known in the world of academia.
“I have published a number of journal articles and book chapters about the country. And I am one of the few international academics to have been active in Kosovo for many years”, Andresen says.
Andresen received the news of the award at the start of the Covid lockdown in 2020. The medal itself and a diploma were presented to him this autumn.
Andresen completed his PhD entitled ‘Journalism Under Pressure: The Case of Kosovo’ at the University of Oslo in 2015. His assistant during the fieldwork, Abit Hoxha, later moved to Southern Norway with his family and continued the collaboration with Andresen. Hoxha is currently a researcher at UiA.
They were both behind the idea for the project RePAST, which was completed in the spring of 2022. The project was about how European societies deal with a troubled past. The funding came from the EU research programme, Horizon 2020.
Andresen and Hoxha have now received EU funding for a new project. They will look at the media development in Europe and examine how it might be a threat to democracy.
“The EU is considering whether to regulate the large tech companies that influence how people consume news. The research will be conducted in several countries in Europe. We will then give advice on how the European Commission can meet these developments”, Andresen says.
The project ReMed, which stands for Resilient Media for Democracy in the Digital Age, will be led by the University of Navarra in Spain. The application was submitted by UiA.
Kenneth Andresen came to Kosovo for the first time in 1999. He worked as a press and information officer in KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force that was responsible for peace and security in Kosovo.
Later he worked at what is today NLA University College Gimlekollen, where he took part in training journalists in Kosovo. One of the first free elections after the war in the country was covered by journalists who had received training in election coverage through Andresen’s course.
Andresen was also central to the development of the journalism programme at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication, which was active from 2005 to 2010.
“The programme was discontinued in 2010 when the Norwegian funds ran out. But we were able to train quite a few cohorts of journalists during those years”, Andresen says. Many of these journalists now hold leading positions in the media and other organisations in Kosovo.”
One of Andresen’s more personal projects is starting to attract more attention online. For the past ten years, he has been collecting historical postcards from Kosovo. The collection has grown to include 1,500 postcards from the years 1905 to 1999.
“I’ve become fascinated with postcards as a medium of storytelling. The photo combined with the stories people write on the back can tell us a lot about the country”, Andresen says.
Here is one of the postcards the researcher has shared on Twitter, along with the text: Postcard from Prizren in Kosovo, this one from 1963. It was sent from Prizren to Budapest in Hungary on June 4, 1963:
His postcards portray various phases of Kosovo’s recent history, from the end of the Ottoman Empire through the world wars and the time it was part of Yugoslavia.
“Postcards are yesterday’s Instagram in a way. Many of these cards also function as brief correspondent letters, where people who visit Kosovo write letters to send back home”, Andresen says.
He is now working on an article about the postcards, and he and Abit Hoxha are planning an exhibition to show around a hundred of these postcards in Kosovo.