Arnisa Halili


  • since 2022 Fellow at the DFG Research Training Group 2227 “Identity and Heritage” at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
  • 2019-2022 Master European Urban Studies (M. Sc.), Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
  • 2020-2022 Research assistant at the Institute for European Urban Studies, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
  • 2019-2021 World Heritage Coach advanced training of the German UNESCO Commission
  • since 2020 Pandemic diary project “Hajde” during the COVID-19 pandemic funded by the Women’s Promotion Fund of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
  • December 2020 – March 2021 Internship at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig
  • Bachelor “Cultural Engineering- Cultural Studies, Knowledge Management, Logistics” at Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Prishtina, Santiago de Chile


Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
Fakultät Architektur und Urbanistik
DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 2227 „Identität und Erbe“
D-99421 Weimar

Sitz: Prellerhaus | 3. OG | Raum 303
Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 6 | D-99423 Weimar

The destruction of the National Theater in Tirana during the COVID-19 pandemic as a negotiation process of European belonging and identity.

On May 17, 2020, the Albanian government decreed the destruction of the National Theater in Tirana during the Covid-19 lockdown. At the site of the National Theater, the Danish star architect Bjarke Ingels was supposed to build a shopping center to improve the city’s image.

The illegal demolition of the National Theater was accompanied by strong protests from citizens, especially the Alliance for the Protection of the Theater, and led to the first 10-month occupation of a building in the history of Albania – the authoritarian action of the government contradicted the majority desire of the population to preserve and protect the National Theater. For many, the National Theater represented more than just a cultural center. The futuristic-style building was constructed during the Italian occupation by architect Giulio Bertè between 1938 and 1939, and its construction technique was considered innovative at the time. It was representative of the cradle of Albania’s cultural institutions and the struggle to preserve the National Theater was considered a glimmer of hope for democracy in the country.

Within the framework of my dissertation, I would like to use a biographical-empirical and discursive methodological approach to examine the significance of the destruction of the National Theater for the European identity and the local sense of European belonging. The actions of the Albanian government will be reviewed against the background of its notion of a “modern European City” standing opposite that of the actual model of the European city being a place in which the protection of heritage plays a fundamental role.

The doctoral project is relevant in two regards: Socio-politically, the current “othering” and exoticization of the Balkans must be countered by classifying heritage destruction on the ground as a destruction of European heritage. In addition, it answers to the research gap concerning the question of on how authoritarian leaders deal with European heritage destruction and loss in the Balkans, and it examines its impact on the local sense of European belonging.

Current Publications

Halili, A. (2021): Handlungspotenzial von (Anschlags-)Städten im Umgang mit Rechtsterrorismus. In Eckardt, F. & Bouguerra, H. M. (Hrsg.): Stadt und Rassismus: Analysen und Perspektiven für eine antirassistische Urbanität. 1. Auflage. Münster: Unrast.

Journalistic Publications:

Gästin zum Thema „albanische Idenität in der postmigrantischen Gesellschaft“ im Podcast von Wiedemeier, I. & Yelken, R. (2021): Folge 15: Ermir Destani,[05.10.2022].

Halili, A. (2020) The Case of Énissa Amani,[05.10.2022].

Halili, A. (2020): Urban Conflicts Podcast: Urbane Konflikte in Europa und darüber hinaus, /[05.10.2022].

Halili, A. (2020): Istanbuls erster Botanischer Garten: Deutsch-türkische Geschichte mit allen Sinnen erspüren,[05.10.2022].

Halili, A. (2020): „Nicht Andere forschen über uns, sondern wir machen das!“,[05.10.2022].

Halili, A. (2020): Albanien: Zerstörung des Nationaltheaters im Schatten von Corona,[05.10.2022].