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$5,326 pledged of $8,000 goal
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By Ashley Elizabeth Wood
$5,326 pledged of $8,000 goal
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About this project

This project only receives the funding if the goal is met. If I do not raise the full $8,000, I get $0 and my contributors are not charged any money. If I exceed my fund raising goal, I will expand the project goals accordingly. Please donate generously and help this become a reality! Thank you all!

Twitter: @projalbavoices Email: projectalbanianvoices@gmail.com

Project Albanian Voices

Project Albanian Voices is a research and story-telling project that will document the immigration experiences of Albanians through the lens of music and language. I plan to travel to Albania during June and July 2013 to collect individual stories related to immigration and emigration. Since Albania is the poorest country in Europe, emigration is a reality for most Albanian families. Albanian transmigration leads to multi-nationalism, multilingualism and multiculturalism, strengthening the Albanian character. However, this fusion never ceases to be distinctively Albanian, even though it encompasses many countries. Because they all share the language, Albanians are able to relate to each other across borders through music. This is remarkable because for most of the 20th century, foreign music was either banned or censured in Albania. What you see now in Albanian music represents a fusion of cultures and influences that uniquely expresses what it means to be Albanian today. 

Why write a book? 

There are few (if any) books in English that specifically chronicle individual stories of Albanian migration in a non-fiction context as expressed in music. It is estimated that there are more than 4 million Albanians living outside of Albania. This number is larger than the actual current population of Albania, which the CIA world-fact-book estimates at a little over 3 million. This separation has led to a level of misunderstanding among Albanians themselves to an extent where comments such as “we don’t even understand each other” have been frequent in my preliminary research. This book needs to be written in English as well as Albanian so that more people can understand the Albanian identity and so that the stories of the Albanian people can be preserved in their traditional language. The Albanian language has used a standardized script for little more than 100 years and most of Albanian history and family stories are transmitted orally. I wish to preserve individual stories of migration, family, politics, love, survival and friendship in writing and discover how those things are reflected in Albanian music. I want to focus on the ways these stories are expressed in music because I believe it unites not only the Albanian people, but allows their stories to be more easily relate-able to Americans. For those of you who may be asking yourselves, when I use the term “Albanian”, I am referring to the ethnic group, whose members occupy all of Kosovo, parts of Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro and all ethnic Albanians or Albanian speakers in other parts of the world.

Why am I doing this if I’m not Albanian? 

I am completely in awe of Albania and its history. My original research interests included Hispanic linguistics and ethnomusicology, but through a strange twist of events, I found myself relying on Albanians for help and safety in the most random of all places, 30 km east of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Since then, I have been learning about how complex Albanian history and the Albanian identity are. Instead of writing about linguistics, this year, I have focused on music, culture, language and some politics. I know this project is ambitious and a bit obscure, but I know it will be a success because I truly care about it and believe in it with all my heart. 

Who will the book be for? 

The book will be intended for English-speaking Albanians, academics and experts on Balkan affairs.  I also plan to release a simultaneous translation in Albanian so that the book is accessible to all Albanians. My ultimate goal is for the book to be understood in the context of the ongoing immigration debate in the United States which tends to ignore the European immigrants' point of view. Anyone who is interested in the history of Albanian immigrants in the United States or abroad is encouraged to participate in the creation of this project. The stories are intended to give a personalized view to the last 30-40 years of Albanian history and political affairs. 

What will be in the book? 

I want to alternate my own analysis of Albanian migration as expressed through music with the opinions and stories of the participants in my research. I plan to transcribe first-hand accounts and interweave them with historical background information, cultural observations and linguistic interpretations. 

What still needs to happen? 

There is a lot of work to be done. I have a network of people who are willing to share their stories with me and a multitude of eager hosts in Albania, but I still need the funds to travel there to interview people and I need the ability to pay translators when needed. Since I will be doing this project alone, I also need to make sure I travel safely around the country, so I will spend part of the money raised on safe transportation and lodging. After the research and writing are completed, I will enter Phase 2 and begin working on raising money for proper self-publishing.

Where and how will I sell it? 

I will self-publish it and sell it with your help. It will require the participation of the entire community so please help me promote this project! 

Why no publisher? 

I could approach various publishing companies regarding this book, but there are two main reasons why I want to self-publish. 
1. I want full editorial control over the content of the book. The question of apparent Albanian nationalism is perceived as a political threat to certain nations, therefore I do not want to give the impression that my book's message could be swayed by political interests.
2. Self-publishing is the best option for me because it allows me to print in accordance with demand. This way I don't waste my money (or yours) on a publishing run that is unsuccessful. 

What have I done to prepare for this? 

I have a master’s degree in Hispanic linguistics and a few PhD credits under my belt. I have extensive field research experience in Latin America and have been writing on politics, language and culture for over 13 years. I have done a substantial amount of research on Albania and ethnic Albanians in that region. I am also doing my very best to make Albanian contacts and learning Albanian by studying the language daily. I have written an article about Albania's celebration of 100 years of independence, an article about Albanian hip hop and a more in depth article of why I am so interested in Albania. If you want to know more about me, I’m all over the internet! 

My CV 
My blog: MusiCulture & Language 
My personal blog: AshleyElizabethWood
My company: Language and Culture Solutions
My Twitter 
My company Facebook page 

Proposed Budget and Information for Backers

To be clear, the book has not been written yet because I need to travel to Albania to finish the interviews. The budget below reflects the costs of my initial research only. If you are a backer at this stage, I will keep you updated all the way through the process of how the book comes together. You can be assured that if you back me at the $250 level, no matter what, you will have a hard copy of the book in your hands within a year. 

Phase 1: Research and writing only - $8,000 total

  • Airfare to Albania ($1700 max)  
  • Travel within Albania ($1800) - The cost of a rental car (a mini fiat panda 1.1 from Europcar) for 30 days is approximately $1200 and then the rest would be left over for public transportation (buses and trains) and incidentals.
  • Gasoline ($1000) - The price of gasoline in Albania is currently at 1.37 EUR per liter ($6.74/gallon), which is 20% higher than the average world price of gasoline.  
  • Lodging and food in Albania ($1000) - I plan to stay with friends, but in the event I travel to a city where I do not know people, I need to have room in my budget for lodging and food.
  • Equipment for documenting photo/video ($1000) 
  • Translators/Interpreters/assistants, etc. ($1000) - this is the part of the budget that will be left up to negotiation between residents of Albania and I. Hopefully this will be enough, but if not, I will supplement with my own money.
  • Kickstarter fees, credit card processing fees, taxes ($500)

Proposed Timeline

May-June (2013) - Raise the necessary funds for research
June-July (2013) - Research and write in Albania
July-October (2013) - Finish first draft
*October-December (2013)- Editing 
*December-February (2014) - Design and layout
*February-Summer (2014) - First print run

*These steps are not factored into the budget at this phase.

Risks and challenges

As with any project, risks and challenges always need to be considered. This project is very well organized, so I do not foresee any problems with the execution of the research and the writing process. I feel secure about where I will be staying, who I will be with and what my goals are. I do not anticipate the project being overwhelming as I have done similar projects in the past for graduate school. I feel that I have done enough research to adequately estimate the amount of time and money that will be necessary for the completion of this project. If logistical problems arise, I will do my best to resolve them within an appropriate amount of time and I will keep my backers updated constantly. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    An email thank-you and a shout out on Twitter from @profesoramadera and @projalbavoices, just give me the @name you want me to tweet.

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    A PDF (electronic copy) of the book upon completion.

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    A chance to have an exclusive behind the scenes look at the research process. I will send you weekly progress emails during my trip. Also, all rewards above (shout out, Ebook)

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    A video version of behind the scenes access to the research process. I will upload exclusive weekly videos from Albania during the trip for your eyes only. Also, I include all rewards above (shout out, Ebook, weekly emails)

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    A chance to have a look at the writing process behind the scenes. I will send you weekly updates (email and video) of how the writing process is going when I return from Albania. Also all rewards above (shout out, Ebook, weekly emails, video updates)

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    A hard copy of the book upon completion (2014) and a personalized post card from Albania (2013). Also, I include all rewards above (shout out, Ebook, weekly emails, video updates, writing process access)

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    A few lines about how important you were to the project and how much your contribution meant to us in the "Acknowledgements" section of the book.

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Funding period

- (30 days)