Lucija Polonijo

Spring 2021 CAS SEE Fellowship recipients

The Center for Advanced Studies of Southeastern Europe (CAS SEE) is pleased to announce the 13th generation of fellows, recipients of the Spring 2021 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards at the University of Rijeka. The purpose of the CAS SEE Fellowship Programme is to further the research and creative work in the fields of the humanities and humanistic social sciences in the Balkans and to provide support for early-stage researchers. Inspired by the cooperation of previous generations of CAS SEE Fellows and their creation of long-term thematic synergies among researchers, the upcoming CAS SEE Fellowship will stimulate fellows to present their research in Rijeka and in the Moise Palace, new university premises in Cres, at the Cres Island. Alongside pursuing their independent research interests, fellows will attend regular CAS SEE regional conferences and seminars.

We congratulate the following CAS SEE Fellowship Awards, University of Rijeka recipients:

Valeria Graziano (Queen Mary University of London, UK)

Project – title: “Get Along Comrade – Tinkering as Care for Freedom”

Desara Dushi (University of Bologna, Italy and University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)

Project – title: “The Impact of Judicial Reform and New Judicial Institutions in the Rule of Law and EU Integration in Albania”

Nikolina Židek (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain)

Project – title: “The Genie Out of the Bottle: Engagement of the Argentinean-Croat Diaspora in Homeland Politics (1990-today)”

Bojan Bilić (University College London, UK)

Project – title: “Unexpected Challenges to Trans Freedom: Transphobia in Serbian Leftist Activism”

Viktor Pál (University of Tampere, Finland)

Project – title: “Red Trash. The Concept of Waste in Communist Eastern Europe”

Miloš Ćipranić (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia)

Project – title: “The Statutes of Eastern Adriatic Communes in Space”

Marko Luka Zubčić (University of Rijeka, Croatia)

Project – title: “Institutional Epistemology of Open Order”

Gabriele Giacomini (University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan, Italy)

Project – title: “The Utopia of “Rousseauian Democracy” in the Digital Age: A Liberal Critique”

CAS SEE Seminars with Guests: Čarna Brković

On Thursday, February 25th at 12:00 pm (CET) we will host CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Čarna Brković presented by our fellow Kevin Kenjar. The seminar is entitled: Minority Sexualities, Kinship, and Non-autological Freedom in Montenegro.

This talk explores conceptions of freedom among gay men in Podgorica, Montenegro, who strive to maintain love alongside kinship relations. The demands of liberal freedom and those of social relatedness are often seen as opposed. By contrast, in Podgorica we can trace a notion of “non-autological freedom” understood as an ability to engage in a certain practice while thinking through its conditions and constraints from multiple perspectives and in a way that Čarna Brković interlocutors saw as respectful of others. Linking anthropological discussions of freedom with a focus on ordinary ethics, in this talk she will explore how we can understand freedom as a shared category, practiced through an open and collective deliberation with other people. Gay men who pursued love and sexual fulfillment as well as stringent family expectations did not enact freedom as always-already individualized subjects who made autonomous choices; they came into being as particular socio-moral persons by deliberating either collectively, through an actual conversation, or by engaging in imaginative identification with others. By placing both relationality and deliberation at the heart of freedom, in this talk, Brković will discuss anthropological approaches to this concept.

Čarna Brković is a Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at the University of Goettingen. Her work combines a focus on inequalities and power with an eye for social complexity and ambiguity. After her PhD at the University of Manchester, she started developing two projects. One explores what happens with humanitarian affect and practices in Eastern European semiperiphery and how the fall of socialism transformed humanitarianism in former Yugoslavia. Another looks at the experiences and practices of sexuality and freedom among gay men in Montenegro. Čarna is the author of “Managing Ambiguity” (Berghahn, 2017) and has written about care, favors, refugee camps, and histories of anthropology.

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lifelong learning Program “Youth in Contemporary Society”

The lifelong learning Program “Youth in Contemporary Society” has started and is being implemented by the University of Rijeka and the Faculty of Philosophy in partnership with the Institute for Social Research and the University of Ljubljana. The program has 30 participants from six European countries who will attend (online and onsite) classes over the next 10 months with a focus on three thematic units, a youth research and youth work, youth work and youth and community development, in order to provide them with recent scientific research the findings enabled a better understanding of the position of young people in the modern world.


The Youth in Contemporary Society lifelong learning program is a youth study pilot project. At many universities within the European Union and beyond, the field of youth studies is considered a part of social sciences so the education of youth work professionals is performed at undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels (university and specialist study programs). The dynamics and complexity of contemporary society demand a methodical and coherent approach to the identification, analysis, and evaluation of the broad social context in which different social groups exist to develop responsive, adequate, and quality public policies aimed at efficiently solving their problems. The youth, as a separate social group, are no exception from that and their distinctiveness has been recognized in many normative and other acts on national, international, and global levels as well as the importance of quality education of professionals which will work for the youth and with the youth.

More about the program


CAS SEE Seminars with Guests: Larisa Kurtović

On Thursday, February 18th at 4 pm (CET), we will host CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Larisa Kurtović (University of Ottawa) presented by our fellow Kevin Kenjar. The seminar is entitled: Sarajevo’s Spring of Discontent: Public Safety, Youth Violence and Politics of Answerability in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In February 2008, the murder of a 16-year-old high school student, Denis Mrnjavac, inspired the first large citizen mobilization in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina. This wave of protests led many Sarajevans to come out to the streets but caught the political leadership and international reformers by surprise. This talk draws on ethnographic research among participants of these mobilizations to make sense of how a tragic act of youth violence could accomplish what a decade-long promotion of participatory democracy in postwar Bosnia did not, namely lead to a first sustained uprising against the country’s ruling officials?  In tracking the citizens’ response to the tragedy, I show how the murder and the government’s (non) response to the rise of youth crime, lead to a reckoning with both the material and the perceived collapse of the biopolitical order, both in its more punitive and more caring forms (c.f. Stevenson 2014).  In taking to the streets, protesting citizens, many of them middle aged parents beset by anxieties about their children’s and their country’s future, outlined a demand for a different kind of a relationship with the state, one based on an ethics of answerability (Bakhtin 1990). This form of political reason, emerging in the wake of the war and socialism, exceeded liberal conceptions of governmental accountability, and blasted open the question of what kind of state authority was necessary in the wake of catastrophe. In making sense of these protests, I ask what postsocialist anxieties about youth crime and public safety can tell us about the politics of the future writ large.

Dr. Larisa Kurtović is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Ottawa. She is a political anthropologist who conducts research on activist politics, postsocialist transformation and the aftermath of international intervention in postwar Bosnia. Her ethnographic analyses of popular mobilizations, political satire and nationalist politics, have appeared on the pages of the American Ethnologist, FocaalHistory and Anthropology and Critique of Anthropology among others. She is currently writing a book entitled Future as Predicament: Political Life After Catastrophe based on her long-term research in postwar-Bosnia, as well as working on a future graphic ethnography about syndical struggle and political possibilities with anthropologist Andrew Gilbert and graphic artist Boris Stapić.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Larisa Kurtović:


CAS SEE Seminars with Guests: Pamela Ballinger

On Thursday, February 11th at 3:30 pm (CET), we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Pamela Ballinger. After a brief introduction on the ‘Unlikely refuge?’ project by Michal Frankl (principal investigator), Pamela Ballinger (University of Michigan) presented her book ‘The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy’ (2020), in dialogue with Doina Anca Cretu and Francesca Rolandi (members of the ‘Unlikely refuge?’ project).

The seminar was organized in cooperation between the Center for Advanced Studies Southeastern Europe and the ERC project ‘Unlikely refuge?. Refugees and citizens in East-Central Europe in the 20th century’ (, hosted by the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences.  

In her recent book, The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy, Pamela Ballinger recuperates the histories of so-called “national refugees” who arrived on the Italian peninsula from the various possessions in Africa and the Balkans that Italy lost as a result of defeat in World War II. Locating these migrants within the vast population of displaced persons in Europe after 1945, the study analyzes the emergence and consolidation of distinctions between “national” and “foreign” refugees, together with respective regimes of humanitarian assistance (those run by states for their own displaced citizens, those under the aegis of international UN agencies). The exclusion of Italian and other national refugees from classification as international refugees proved complex and laborious, involving a wide range of international, intergovernmental and state actors who sharpened their categories for eligibility and relief through such debates. Simultaneously, assuming the burden of care for its own refugees served as an instrument through which the new Italian Republic asserted its sovereignty and reframed citizenship after empire. Ultimately, the Italian state’s experience of resettling migrants from its former territories reinforced restrictive policies towards foreign refugees, for whom Italy became an unlikely (i.e. rare and difficult) refuge for much of the Cold War. 

Pamela Ballinger is Professor of History and the Fred Cuny Chair in the History of Human Rights in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. She holds degrees in Anthropology (B.A. Stanford University, M. Phil Cambridge University, M.A. Johns Hopkins University) and a joint Ph.D. in Anthropology and History (Johns Hopkins). She is the author of History in Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans (Princeton University Press, 2003), La Memoria dell’Esilio (Veltro Editrice, 2010), and The World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundation of Postwar Italy (Cornell University Press, 2020). She has published in a wide range of journals, including Austrian History Yearbook, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Contemporary European History, Current Anthropology, Journal of Contemporary History, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Journal of Refugee Studies, Journal of Tourism History, and Past and Present. Her areas of expertise include human rights, forced migration, refugees, fascism, seaspace, and modern Mediterranean and Balkan history.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Pamela Ballinger:

CAS SEE Seminars With Guests: Rafael Marín 

On Thursday,February 4th at 10 am, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Rafael Marín, moderated by CAS SEE executive director Sanja Bojanić. The seminar is entitled: “Existential challenges and threats for the European Union in a post Brexit, post-Trump and post-Covid world”.

This seminar focused on four aspects of utmost importance for the immediate future of the integration process in a short of panoramic view:

  1. The search for European strategic autonomy.
  2. The relationship with China in the context of the signing of an agreement in principle regarding investment between the EU and China, last December 30th, 2020.
  3. The question of left-right national-populisms, illiberal democracies, and the rule of law.
  4. The economic recovery plan for the European Union.

The main aim of the talk was to suggest ideas and room for debate and exchange of views, taking into account the perception and impressions from a young Member State such as Croatia.

Rafael Marín (University of Granada, Spain) is an Assistant Professor of Public International Law (Profesor Ayudante Doctor de Derecho Internacional Público y Relaciones Internacionales) at the University of Granada (Spain). He obtained his Ph.D. in Law at the University of Granada. Master of Laws (LL.M.) at the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium), 2010-2011. He was awarded on behalf of the Curatorium of The Hague Academy of International Law with a scholarship to attend the 2015 Summer Courses on Public International Law. He has published numerous articles among others on the following topics: the protection of fundamental rights in European Union Law (EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, rights of people with disabilities…), the implications for the European and Spanish economic security of the reemergence of China, as well as the reservations made by Islamic states to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Rafael Marín:

CAS SEE Seminars with Guests: Nadia El-Shaarawi and Maple Razsa

On Thursday, January 28th at 4 pm (CET), we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Nadia El-Shaarawi and Maple Razsa, presented by our fellow Kevin Kenjar. The seminar is entitled: Ahmed, the Megaphone, and the Assembly of New Political Subjects In 2015.

Ahmed H. was detained following protests by hundreds of refugees against the abrupt closure of the Hungarian-Serbian border at Röszke. Hungarian authorities charged Ahmed with terrorism and eventually sentenced him to eleven years in prison. Central to the prosecution’s allegation that Ahmed led a “migrant invasion” of Hungary were photos of him holding a megaphone amid the tense, and eventually violent, standoff with riot police. Ahmed’s prosecution can be understood within the wider anti-migrant policies of the Orban regime. In response to such far-right state attacks on migration, many liberal critics have insisted, instead, on a humanitarian interpretation, rendering migrants and refugees apolitical victims. In this paper we seek to go beyond this political and analytical bind, which would have us understand people on the move as either victims or enemies, to ask what Röszke teaches us about the politics of movements against borders, in both senses of the phrase. What kind of assembly was this that demanded repeatedly that the state “open the borders?” What collective subject did Ahmed address with the megaphone? What kinds of conceptual tools, or political imagination, is required to recognize this plural political subject, this insurgent mobility, formed en route?

Nadia El-Shaarawi is an Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Colby College. She is a cultural and medical anthropologist who specializes in transnational forced migration, humanitarian intervention, and mental health in the Middle East and North Africa. Her current book project, Collateral Damages, reckons with the lived consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the violence that followed by analyzing how Iraqi refugees in Egypt negotiated conditions of protracted urban exile and sought to rebuild their lives after war and displacement. In collaboration with Maple Razsa, Nadia is also working on Insurgent Mobilities, a collaborative ethnography of the Balkan Route that refugees travel to reach Europe. In contrast to narratives that present the Route as either a humanitarian or border “crisis”, Insurgent Mobilities explores what’s revealed by viewing the route from the point of view of refugees and solidarity activists as they struggle for freedom of movement. Prior to joining Colby, Nadia was the Global Migration Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, where her work included research and teaching on the health and social effects of displacement and resettlement.

Maple Razsa is committed to using text, images, and sound to embody the lived experience, as well as the political imaginations of contemporary social movements. Trained as a filmmaker and anthropologist at Harvard University, he is an Associate Professor of Global Studies at Colby College. Maple has conducted fieldwork with alterglobalization protesters, anarchist-punk squatters, migrant-labor organizers, video activists, and, most recently, opponents and transgressors of the European border regime. His films—including The Maribor Uprisings, Occupation: A Film About the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In, and Bastards of Utopia—have shown in festivals around the world, including CPH:DOX, Hot Docs, and DOK Leipzig. The Society for Visual Anthropology named Uprisings the Best Feature Film of 2017. Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics After Socialism (Indiana University Press, 2015), the written companion to the film of the same title, won the William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology. His current research project is Insurgent Mobilities (in collaboration with Nadia El-Shaarawi), an ethnography of refugee and activist struggles to enact freedom of movement in Europe.

CAS SEE Seminars With Guests – Federico Giulio Sicurella

On Thursday, January 21st at 10 am (CET), we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Federico Giulio Sicurella in dialogue with Dimitris Serafis (University of Malta), and Francesca Rolandi (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences – Center for Advanced Studies Rijeka).

The seminar was dedicated to the presentation of Sicurella’s new book – Speaking for the Nation. Intellectuals and nation-building in the post-Yugoslav space that explores the nexus of intellectual activity and nation-building from a critical discourse-analytical perspective. By examining how public intellectuals from Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina commented on key national events in editorials and opinion pieces, it offers unique insights into contemporary nation-building discourses in an enlarging Europe. Through a detailed reconstruction of the debates concerning the selected events, the book also provides fresh empirical evidence of the implications and challenges of post-socialist transition, post-conflict reconciliation, democratization, and European integration in the post-Yugoslav region. Its versatile framework, which innovatively combines sociological and linguistic approaches to the discursive positioning of intellectuals, may be readily applied to the analysis of intellectual engagement with current affairs and public life in general.

Federico Giulio Sicurella is a researcher, lecturer, and consultant in critical discourse studies. He holds an MA in democracy and human rights in South East Europe (University of Sarajevo & University of Bologna) and a PhD in linguistics (Lancaster University). His research focuses on intellectual activity in post-socialist transitional societies, the discursive construction of national history and identity, as well as on media and public discourses on EU enlargement, democratization, and human rights. He is currently a research fellow at the University of Milano-Bicocca, working on issues of tolerance, solidarity, and migration in Europe.

Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Federico Giulio Sicurella:

International Conference: The Epistemic Circumstances of Democracy

The Epistemic Circumstances of Democracy

29th January 2021, 9:00 am – 7:30 pm (CET)

In both academia and layperson political culture, democracy has been enshrined as the system that best respects every citizen’s freedom and political equality. However, it is worth inquiring whether average voters – some of whom are neither informed nor unbiased and impartial – can be trusted to choose the correct option. For decades, studies in political epistemology, political science, and sociology have shown that citizens do not possess the most basic political knowledge and cannot even articulate their moral values. How can their electoral choices reflect the real common good? Those skeptical of democracy point to additional problems at play. Empirical evidence seems to suggest that partisanship is likely to devolve into polarization. Due to their function of representing a particular ideology, political parties often resemble echo chambers, closed epistemic structures that sequester their supporters from opposing viewpoints. Likewise, diverse media platforms, often hailed as good for democracy, make it easy for citizens to select those networks that best agree with their biases, further polarizing their beliefs. These apprehensions raise the question of whether the empirical epistemic circumstances of democracy in modern societies are so flawed that democracy has become another concept that functions only in theory, only to disappoint in real life.

On the other side of the spectrum, proponents of democracy argue the Condorcet Jury Theorem implies that minimally competent, sincere, and independent voters are, when amassed, almost entirely likely to make the correct decision. According to the original Condorcet Jury Theory, as long as voters are merely more probable than random to be right, are independent of each other, and do not vote strategically, the likelihood they are correct converges to certainty the more numerous they are. As a consequence, millions of citizens just slightly above average outperform even the most brilliant individuals. Besides, those eager to defend democratic decision-making stress that diversity reaps copious epistemic benefits: a handful of experts cannot match the political relevance of ordinary citizens’ judgments of their priorities and living conditions. Epistocracy and aristocracy are bound to remain overly elitist for a decent alternative to democracy.

This conference, keeping the debate’s complexity in mind, aims to examine whether democracy can outlast its harshest critics. Can Condorcet Jury Theorem’s requirements survive the real epistemic circumstances of democracy? Are empirical citizens ever genuinely independent of each other, and do our biases make us collectively worse than chance at making the correct choice?  Are political polarization, extremism, and voter ignorance too high a price for diversity? How can democracy be modified to both preserve its advantages and cancel its failures? The represented viewpoints include theorists ranging from those comprehensively distrustful of democracy, over epistemic democrats, to procedural democrats.

Conference program


Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Hana Samaržija / University of Zagreb

Watch The Epistemic Circumstances of Democracy:


CAS SEE Seminars With Guests – Saša Vejzagić 

On Thursday, January 14th at 4 pm CET, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Saša Vejzagić, in dialogue with our fellow Filip Balunović. The talk revolved around The Rise of Business Class and Managerial Elites in Yugoslavia, 1963-1978.

The thesis investigates an emergence of a business world in Yugoslavia in the midst of communists’ peculiar endeavor to develop a socialist society and a workers’ state. Its central focus narrows down on general directors in charge of large industrial (production) enterprises who in the period of liberalizing reforms between the 1960s and 1970s became both independent and powerful enough to attract the interest of the party leaders. The thesis provides the answer to the question of how Yugoslavia shaped its business environment and, more importantly, how the changes of the socio-economic setting allowed general managers to become relevant actors and even considered a homogenous group in both the public and the political discourse.

By delving into economic, ideological, socio-political, and legal domains of Yugoslavia’s life, the thesis identifies the first half of the 1960s as the critical moment for the emancipation of the managerial elite. It explores how the widespread modernization campaign, at the same time, accelerated the expansion of the Yugoslav economic potentials, while reproducing systemic contradictions that created the demand for new forms of company leaders. Since large industrial companies also appeared in this same period, the thesis explores their beginnings and relation of this phenomenon to the appearance of the new generation of managers. In its final part the thesis establishes the definition of the large production enterprise in Yugoslavia and builds a collective profile of its general director. In this sense, the typology of directors and the statistical analysis of their profiles, as well as their short professional histories, are at the heart of the thesis, giving a fresh understanding of their role in the Yugoslav political and business world. 

Saša Vejzagić earned a BA (2008) and MA degree (2011) in History from the Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, and an MA degree in Central European History from the Central European University in Budapest (2013). Since 2015/16 he has been a PhD student at the European University Institute in Florence and will defend his thesis in February or March this year. Vejzagić is an associate of the Centre for Cultural and Historical Research of Socialism in Pula and a doctoral researcher at the project “Microsocialism”. In 2018 he started a project with Vladimir Unkovski-Korica titled “The Second World Does Business? Enterprise in the GDR and Yugoslavia” Vejzagić is interested in economic, business, political, labor, and social history of the 20th century with a focus on Yugoslavia in post World War II period.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Saša Vejzagić: