Between Accursed Mountains: a ‘hybrid’ ethnography of commodification processes in hospitality within northern Albania

This short film takes the viewer to two neighbouring valleys in northern Albania; the Theth and Valbona valleys. In the last decade, these historically isolated areas have developed into popular tourist destinations. The film shows how it is offered to tourists as an “undiscovered” place in which you can find some “unspoiled” nature and “exotic” customs. Regarding the exotic customs in northern Albania, tourist marketers refer to the ancient code of customary law, the Kanun, of which  hospitality is an important prescript. What does this coded custom mean to hosts in the context of increasing tourism, and how does it influence tourist experience? The film shows that hospitality (mikpritja) does indeed play a major role in encounters between foreign tourists and local hosts, but that it is also under commodification processes.

Jip van Steenis

Jip van Steenis is a young artist and visual anthropologist, that recently graduated from the visual anthropology pilot track run by Prof. Mattijs van de Port at the University of Amsterdam. She was educated both in visual arts as well as visual anthropology and is interested in the merging of these two realms. Tourism is a great interest of her, and Van Steenis’ first film is set in an increasingly popular tourist destination: northern Albania.