Lucija Polonijo

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:



CAS SEE Seminars with Guests – Dominique Kirchner Reill

On Thursday, January 14th at 10 am (CET), we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Dominique Kirchner Reill, in dialogue with Natka Badurina (University of Udine), Ivan Jeličić (Institute of Political History Budapest), 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 Reill’s new book – The Fiume Crisis.

The Fiume Crisis recasts what we know about the birth of fascism, the rise of nationalism, and the fall of empire after World War I by telling the story of the three-year period when the Adriatic city of Fiume (today Rijeka, in Croatia) generated an international crisis.

In 1919 the multicultural former Habsburg city was occupied by the paramilitary forces of the flamboyant poet-soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio, who aimed to annex the territory to Italy and became an inspiration to Mussolini. Many local Italians supported the effort, nurturing a standard tale of nationalist fanaticism. However, Dominique Kirchner Reill shows that practical realities, not nationalist ideals, were in the driver’s seat. Support for annexation was largely a result of the daily frustrations of life in a “ghost state” set adrift by the fall of the empire. D’Annunzio’s ideology and proto-fascist charisma notwithstanding, what the people of Fiume wanted was prosperity, which they associated with the autonomy they had enjoyed under Habsburg sovereignty. In these twilight years between the world that was and the world that would be, many across the former empire sought to restore the familiar forms of governance that once supported them. To the extent that they turned to nation-states, it was not out of zeal for nationalist self-determination but in the hope that these states would restore the benefits of cosmopolitan empire.

Against the too-smooth narrative of postwar nationalism, The Fiume Crisis demonstrates the endurance of the imperial imagination and carves out an essential place for history from below.

Dominique Kirchner Reill received her PhD with Distinction from Columbia University and is currently Associate Professor of Modern European History at the University of Miami. Her first book, Nationalists Who Feared the Nation: Adriatic Multinationalism in Habsburg Dalmatia, Trieste, and Venice, was published by Stanford University Press in 2012 and received the 2014 Book Prize from the Center for Austrian Studies, as well as Honorable Mention from the 2012 Smith Award. Her new book, The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire, comes out December 1, 2020 with Harvard University’s Belknap Press. She is an Associate Review Editor for the American Historical Review, editor for the Purdue University Press book series Central European Studies, and member of the editorial board for the Cambridge University Press journal Contemporary European History. Currently, she is a Visiting Scholar at the European University Institute, Fiesole, where she is working on her next book tentatively titled The Habsburg Mayor of New York: Fiorello LaGuardia.

Photo by Lia Avant Photodesign

Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Dominique Kirchner Reill:


International Conference “Horizons of Engagement: Eternalizing Pierre Bourdieu”

22. December – 23. December

The conference “Eternalizing Bourdieu” is organized on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002), the world’s most-cited sociologist. The achievements of Bourdieu’s academic work are reflected in the high institutional positions he held, such as the position of the general secretary of the Centre de sociologie européenne, the position of the studies director of the École des hautes études en sciences socials and the position of the professor of sociology at Collège de France. His academic work has also been awarded with numerous accolades like the “Golden Medal”, the highest acknowledgment of the French Centre national de la recherche scienti que and the “Huxley” medal, the highest acknowledgment of the Royal Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. The greatest indicator of the scope of Bourdieu’s in science is the fact that we are talking about the world’s most-cited sociologist, ahead of Émile Durkheim and the world’s second most cited author in social sciences and humanities, after Michel Foucault and ahead of Jacques Derrida. As LoÏc Wacquant pointed out: “Bourdieu became a name for a collective research endeavor that transcends the borders of states and disciplines”.

All of Bourdieu’s major works contain a thorough critique of the elements of the established social order: from the school system (in “Reproduction”) to the aristocratic pretensions of the dominant class (in “The Distinction”) and the state as the instrument of the dominant class (in “State Nobility”). Establish and publicly announce the reality of the social world becomes, in his vision, the main stake of the social struggle. Precisely because of that, he criticizes the artificial separation between scientific work that produces knowledge and intellectual engagement that introduces that knowledge into the public sphere. After rarely taking a stand on current political issues with the publishing of “The Weight of the World” in 1993. – in which he pleads for a ‘different way of doing politics’ – Bourdieu became one of the most engaged French intellectuals. The support for strikers, support for the unemployed who blocked École normale supérieure, supporting Algerian intellectuals, and supporting European social movements are just some of the most famous of Bourdieu’s public appearances through which he earned the status of the “main enemy” among the most prominent defenders of the neoliberal order in the French intellectual eld.

The aim of this conference is to familiarise the domestic and regional audiences with the work of Pierre Bourdieu, by presenting his academic work alongside his public engagement. The conference will consist of several thematic segments which will introduce some basic concepts and methodological approaches that appear in his work and Bourdieu’s relationship with some of the most significant authors from his intellectual milieu, as well as the most important theoretical approaches in sociology. The last segment of the conference will deal with Bourdieu’s public engagement and his understanding of the public roles of intellectuals.

Conference program
Book of abstracts
Register here



Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka
École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Institut français de Serbie


Ivica Mladenović, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Zona Zarić, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Milan Urošević, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade


Marc Crépon, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Ivana Spasić, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
Laurent Jeanpierre, University of Paris I (Sorbonne)
Adriana Zaharijević, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Philip Golub, American University of Paris

CAS SEE Seminars with Guests – Paul Stubbs and Noémi Lendvai-Bainton

On Thursday, December 17th, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Paul Stubbs and Noémi Lendvai-Bainton, presented by our fellow Tanja Anđić. The talk is entitled: The Temporalities of Policy Translation in the Semi-Periphery: revisiting the Europeanisation of welfare reforms in Central and South East Europe.

This presentation seeks to conceptualise time and temporality in the semi-periphery, with a particular focus on the transnational dimensions of policy translation. In particular, we show how, albeit within the co-existence of multiple temporalities, ‘policy time’ and ‘time in policy’ are structured in dominance and tend to enable and privilege particular kinds of policy processes over others. The presentation addresses a number of themes from our ethnographic work on social policy reform drawn from the post-Yugoslav and Hungarian contexts. We place particular emphasis on problematizing processes of ‘Europeanisation’ as well as the temporalities of policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exploring the spatio-temporal dimensions of policy processes, we address key challenges in terms of how to treat time within critical policy studies.

Paul Stubbs is a UK‐born sociologist who has lived and worked in Croatia since 1993. He is currently Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Economics, Zagreb. His work focuses on policy translation, social protection, and the history of the non‐aligned movement. His latest book, co‐edited with Sofiya An, Bob Deacon and Tatiana Chubarova, is Social Policy, Poverty, and Inequality in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: Agency and Institutions in Flux (CROP/ibidem, 2019). He is on the editorial board of Critical Policy Studies and the Croatian Journal of Social Policy. He is editing a book on Socialist Yugoslavia and the Non-Aligned Movement to be published by McGill-Queens’ University Press. He has just completed a two-year term as Co-President of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP) of the American Anthropological Association.

Noémi Lendvai‐Bainton is a Hungarian‐born academic who has been working in the United Kingdom since 2002. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Public Policy at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK. Her research interests include post‐communist welfare states, EU integration, EU social policy, global social policy and the impact of international organizations, East–West migration, comparative research methods and critical policy studies. Her book, co‐authored with John Clarke, David Bainton and Paul Stubbs, Making Policy Move: Towards a Politics of Translation and Assemblage (Policy Press, 2015), explores ‘translation’ as a possible new theoretical lens for critical policy studies. She has also widely published on the transformation and Europeanization of post‐communist welfare states.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Paul Stubbs and Noémi Lendvai-Bainton:

Prestigious ERC Grant at our University

The European Research Council (ERC) just announced the results of its latest ERC Consolidator Grant tender for mid-career researchers. The funding is part of the EU’s current research and innovation program, Horizon 2020, and worth in total €655 million. With this support, the new grantees will be able to consolidate their teams and have a far-reaching impact.

The ERC funds the best research in Europe, and grants are awarded to scientists solely based on the excellence of their research work. Scientists compete in strong international competition in which the European Commission selects only 8 to 15 percent of the best from the total number of applications.

We are proud to announce that the University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Cultural Studies is among the prestigious winners of this year’s ERC Consolidator Grant, with the project REVENANT (Revivals of Empire — Nostalgia, Amnesia, Tribulation). From its Kvarner base, the REVENANT project will lay the foundations for a new, international network of studies of post-imperial memories and heritage, with confirmed collaborators from various institutions, including Boğaziçi University, Moscow School of Economics, Humboldt University, Konstanz University, University of Michigan, University of Regensburg, University of Vienna and Utrecht University. The total planned duration of the project is five years.

This project is the first ERC research project to examine contemporary collective memories and the legacy of the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Roman Empires from an interdisciplinary perspective. REVENANT members will explore how collective memories of the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Roman Empires achieve form and content through people, places, and things, ranging from sultans to Sacher cake, from the banks of Neva to the Danube and the Bosphorus.

Under the guidance of the main researcher, Jeremy F. Walton, Ph.D., the project will gather anthropologists, art historians, historians, political scientists, comparative literature researchers, and sociologists. The REVENANT project will ‘reside’ at the Department of Cultural Studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka, with the support of Prof. Sarah Czerny, Ph.D., and in collaboration with all relevant scientists at our University, primarily the Center for Advanced Studies of Southeast Europe (CAS SEE). The project results will include a documentary, a photo exhibition, and a website, as well as various scientific and popular publications.

Since 2015, Jeremy Walton has been based at the Department of Cultural Studies of the University of Rijeka (Croatia). Previously, he worked in Germany (Max-Planck Institute and the University of Göttingen) as well as in the US (Georgetown University and New York University). He received his original Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.


On the occasion of the Special Lecture with Étienne Balibar entitled “What is engagement?” organized by the Center for Critical Democracy Studies at The American University of Paris in partnership with the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade (IFDT) and the Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe at the University of Rijeka (CAS SEE), Professor Balibar received the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory’s Annual Award for Critical Engagement “Miladin Životić”. The event was moderated by Professor Philip Golub (AUP) and Zona Zaric (MA AUP).

With Professors Stephen Sawyer (AUP), Petar Bojanić (IFDT), Sanja Bojanić (CAS SEE) and Gazela Pudar Draško (IFDT).

The lecture “What is engagement?” was held on Friday, December 11th at 3:30 pm CET via Zoom.

PHOTO by Christine Delory-Momberger.


An exhibition on the interrelations between landscapes, memory and graffiti in the post-Yugoslav space

Open from 4th December to 20th December 2020. in Export on Delta, Rijeka.

The exhibition is based on photos taken over the past decade by four researchers working in the former Yugoslavia: Roswitha Kersten-Pejanić, Vjeran Pavlaković, Eric Ušić, and Kevin Kenjar. Each researcher has analyzed the political sentiments, ascriptions, and statements that are manifested and realized in the form of graffiti and other linguistic and semiotic signs located in the physical landscape.

These images of the visual memoryscape from different parts of Croatia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia explicitly depict political conflicts and ideological premises, historical ruptures, and multiple layers of the past, as well as discourses of Othering and relations of in-group vs. out-group identification. Although the authors have approached these visual semiotics from various disciplines, they all share a common fascination with the graffitied memoryscape in this region of contested narratives and complex histories.

The exhibition is organized by the Center for Advanced Studies of Southeastern Europe, University of Rijeka, and is held as part of the program “Memory Landscapes” program flagship Times of Power, an integral part of the program Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Watch the video (by Kanal Ri):

CAS SEE Seminars with Guests – Nenad Stefanov

On Thursday, December 10th, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Nenad Stefanov, presented by our fellow Roswitha Kersten-Pejanić. The seminar is entitled „The “magic” of maps. About the Visualization of Ethnization of Society”.

In the perception of the wars over ethnically homogeneous territories in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, “cultural boundaries” are often considered a plausible cause of conflict even today. However, such borders were first established discursively and in particular visually in maps or other graphic representations. The developments in the (post)Yugoslavian region since the 1990s can show how intensively cartographic representations were used and utilized to support essentialist argumentations to legitimize territorial claims. The question thus arises as to what social function such visualizations of ethnicity have in the concrete spatial context and how they ultimately shape the actions of a wide variety of different societal actors.

Nenad Stefanov a historian and scientific coordinator at the Interdisciplinary Center for Border Research at “Crossing Borders” at the Humboldt University of Berlin. One research focus in this context is the social production of borders. It was precisely authoritarian and populist movements in Yugoslavia in the 1980s that forced new forms of demarcation based on ethnically homogenous communities. The subsequent materialization of such ethnic demarcation, its dominance, is the result of equally conflictual social processes in which authoritarian patterns of action become hegemonic.
A further research area is currently the study of lines of communication in the long term in the Central Balkans. For example, the line of communication that connected Central Europe and Asia Minor in various epochs and which became known as the Via Militaris, or Orta Kol in the Ottoman period, gained prominence with the Orient Express.
His last published book is about the “intention of borders” in Balkans: Die Erfindung der Grenzen auf dem Balkan. Von einer spätosmanischen Region zu nationalstaatlichen Peripherien: Pirot und Caribrod 1856–1989, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2017.


Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Nenad Stefanov: