Following the death of George Floyd in May, the discourse surrounding racial politics in the music world has undergone a huge reckoning. #BlackOutTuesday saw its social media geared toward either respectful silence or content focused on racial justice; Black British Music Execs with the Black Music Coalition called for internal measures to tackle the industry’s systemic racism; in the US, Republic Records announced it would no longer use the term ‘urban’ to describe music of black origin.
The momentum gained by the Black Lives Matter movement has also encouraged a redress of racist norms beyond anti-blackness. In a move that was echoed last week by the Washington NFL Team, One Little Indian Records similarly have renamed themselves ‘One Little Independent’ to reflect the current climate. It is likely in this spirit of anti-racism that one of the world’s most streamed artists, Dua Lipa, posted this flag onto Twitter last night. The online reaction to the tweet however, was hardly one of anti-racist unity.
(of an inhabitant of a place) indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists pic.twitter.com/OD9bNmLcZ4
— DUA LIPA (@DUALIPA) July 19, 2020
Originally born in London to Kosovar Albanian (ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo) refugees, Lipa spent most of her childhood in Kosovo before returning to the UK. The flag she shared depicts a map of ‘Greater Albania’, an imagined area that in addition to modern day Albania covers land from several of its surrounding countries. Alongside the image, Lipa left a caption defining the word ‘autochthonous’, a descriptor meaning “indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists” as the definition reads.
Aside from the problematic implications that come with laying claim to land within other sovereign nations , the flag in question has historically been used by far-right nationalists who argue for the annexation of ‘ethnically Albanian’ areas, most notably when the country sided with Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Pink News also pointed out that in more recent history, the flag was flown by a drone at a football match between Serbia and Albania, inciting a riot.
While the caption likely stems from Lipa asserting that the ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo (in 2013 more than 90% of the population) have no less a right to live there than neighbouring ethnic groups, the idea of ‘Greater Albania’ is extremely insensitive to Kosovo’s ongoing struggle for international recognition as an independent state, not too mention that the area covers most of Macedonia, the island of Corfu, parts of Montenegro, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, where the ethnically Albanian populations are negligible at best (see map below).
— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen) July 19, 2020
As of now the tweet still remains uploaded and the row rages on. Several publications are still awaiting comment from Lipa’s representatives.