CURRENT FELLOWS

Autumn 2020


Roswitha Kersten-Pejanić (Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt University, Germany)

Roswitha Kersten-Pejanić completed her PhD thesis on the interrelation of linguistic norms and gender perceptions in Croatian in 2016 at the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt University. She holds Magister degree in History and Serbian/Croatian from Humboldt University and a Master in EU Studies from Centre International de Formation Européenne.
From 2010-2017, Roswitha was working as a research associate and lecturer at the Department of Slavic Studies and the Transdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies at Humboldt University in Berlin. She also worked as a trainer for EU fundraising both in academic and non-academic education. She is co-editor of the volume “Doing Gender – Doing the Balkans” and has published papers on issues of gender, language, discourses and Europeanization in Croatia, such as “Language ideology and linguistic manifestations of gender conceptualisations in Croatian”, “»Imenice muškog roda imenice su općeg roda…« Why Questioning Androgendering Naming Practices for People Is Still Worth the (Slavicist’s) While”, “Are times of Europeanisation times of the gender experts? The window of opportunity in the EU accession process in Croatia”, and others.

Project – title: “Linguistic Landscapes at the margins: Performativity of ethnic belonging and memory politics in Croatian post-conflict border regions”

Roswitha has been a postdoc fellow at CAS SEE for the last two years and will stay here until Autumn 2021. She is working on the project “Linguistic Landscapes at the margins: Performativity of ethnic belonging and memory politics in Croatian post-conflict border regions” which receives funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG, project number: KE 2368/1-1):
Her research concentrates on the linguistic landscape in two rural border regions and former war sites in Croatia (the “Danube border region” around Vukovar, Ilok, Erdut and Batina and the “Una border region” around Kostajnica, Dvor, Dubica and Jasenovac). A central emphasis of her work lies on the examination of persisting linguistic signs of ethnic and nationalist tension in the public space. The continuing influence of the war and, hence, the status of this space as a post-conflict site is of particular analytic importance for this research project. The project aims at making an active contribution to the methodological development of Linguistic Landscape Studies (LLS) by concentrating on rural landscapes, while most research in LLS so far has focused on the study of urban areas. Furthermore, the project is drawing the attention of this emerging field of ethnographic studies on language use to Southeastern Europe, which allows adding a particularly fascinating set of material and analysis due to the loaded legacy of (language) politics in the region. Roswitha is co-organiser of the exhibition “Croatian Memoryscapes” financed by EPK2020 and Schroubek-Fonds which will be shown in Rijeka in Winter 2020/21. In May 2021 Roswitha will, together with the CAS team, organize the international conference “Semiotic Landscapes of Southeastern Europe” at Moise Palace on the Island of Cres.


Francesca Rolandi (University of Turin, Italy / University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Francesca Rolandi received a Ph.D. in Slavic Studies at the University of Turin in 2012 with a dissertation on the influence of Italian popular culture on socialist Yugoslavia, which in 2014 received the award Vinka Kitarovic of the University of Bologna for thesis dealing with the history of neighboring countries. She has been postdoctoral research at the Italian Institute for Historical Studies in Naples, the University of Rijeka (Marie Curie – NEWFELPRO fellowship), and the University of Ljubljana (ERC project EIRENE Postwar Transitions in Gendered Perspective: The Case of the North-Eastern Adriatic Region). Her research interests range from the social and cultural history of the Upper Adriatic area and the post-Yugoslav space to the history of refugees and migration in the 20th century.

Project – title: Doš’o sam u grad iz pasivnog kraja. Internal Migration, Settlement Dynamics and Social Practices in post-World War II Rijeka

“This project aims to investigate the settlement process and internal migration flows in post-World War II Rijeka, tracing their influence on the urban fabric of the city. Post-war reconstruction required a sharp increase in the labor force to replace the many local inhabitants who left as a consequence of the new border setting and fulfill the needs of the local industry. The new immigrants who reached the city came not just from the surrounding areas but also from other more faraway regions, including the southern Yugoslav republics.

This project will shed some light on the policies adopted by the Yugoslav authorities to repopulate the city, including the process of negotiation with the local context. Moreover, it will analyze these migration flows taking into account national but also class and gender aspects. Focusing on specific, carefully selected, places, where wider phenomena were displayed, it will investigate the impact of the practices of consumption, housing policies, dynamics of social inclusion or exclusion on the process of identity building.”


Kevin Kenjar (UC Berkeley, USA)

Kevin Kenjar is a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist with a strong regional focus on Southeastern Europe. He completed his PhD in Anthropology at UC Berkeley in 2020, and was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics (2016), the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (2018), and the Slavic Department at the University of Cologne (2019). While specialized in the study of the nexus of language and ideology, nationalism, and ethnic diversity, his eclectic research interests include such diverse topics as memorialization, post-Ottoman and post-Austro-Hungarian legacies, materialist Biblical exegesis, and Victorian nonsense poetry.

Project – title: “Fool, This is a Post Office”: The Dynamics of Linguistic Landscape Intervention in Post-Yugoslav Space

The goal of this project is to assess creative engagement with the linguistic landscape, particularly through the use of graffiti, in post-Yugoslav space. Building on a body of work in linguistic anthropology dealing with the many complexities of textuality and the materiality of texts, and recognizing that writing is a culturally organized and ideologically grounded activity, bound up with historical, cultural, and political meaning (rather than an autonomous, neutral technology of transcribing the spoken word) this project explores the unique dynamics and relations specific to spatially situated texts.

Using carefully documented instances of graphic intervention in the linguistic landscape, paired with “photo-elicitation” interviews in which research participants are presented with partially decontextualized photographs, this project provides insight into how local participants craft, experience and interpret such images from the range of possible meanings, including participants’ potential (in)ability to identify which standard languages are being used when denied particular contextual clues.

An essential aspect of this project is the linguistic analysis of often-neglected levels of signification (e.g. graphemes, fonts, colors) to determine intertextual and generic relationships that reveal neatly organized and patterned collective voices through the bleeding of forms and content. This patterning in turn reveals intricate turn-taking, in which participants engage with one another through coded responses, modifications, effacement and defacement, all captured within a single frame, despite these participants never having met face-to-face and their utterances potentially being separated by a period of months or even years.


Tanja Anđić (University of Minnesota, USA)

Tanja Anđić completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Minnesota in 2020. There, she worked as a research assistant for the Minnesota Population Center IPUMS-DHS project and taught courses in Social Theory. Her current research interest is in imaginations of the future, and how these imagined futures shape contemporary social action. She has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork on everyday life in Belgrade, among Serbian immigrants in Germany, and in syringe exchanges in the United States, as well as working on quantitative projects using Demographic and Health Surveys data. Her broad topics of research on emigration, social welfare, futures, the state, transitions to adulthood, and energy markets are driven by a fascination with late capitalism and its effects on all aspects of social life.

Project – title: EU Accession and Energy Competition: The Future of the Western Balkans in the “Laboratory of Conditionality”

EU membership was once seen as the inevitable future of the Western Balkans (a term defined by what it is not – countries in South East Europe which are not EU members). However, the decades long trial-and-error process of accession has made the promise of this future appear less viable. Despite the diminishing hope for eventual membership among the countries’ populaces, and seemingly no end in sight as the EU experiences “enlargement fatigue,” candidate and potential candidate countries must continue to implement the EU’s market-radical policies of privatization, marketization, and liberalization across sectors.
Using discursive process tracing and ethnographic fieldwork at sites of infrastructure, this project seeks to understand the relationship of EU conditionality and market-radical policy diffusion as it plays out in the contentious field of energy production in Serbia (EU candidate) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (potential candidate). In recent implementations of public-private partnerships (PPPs) with domestic and international energy investors, governments have failed to meet EU2020 quotas for renewable energy while creating social unrest surrounding both reinvestments in coal and the irreparable damage caused by thousands of new “green” mini-hydroelectric plants across the region. Applying a political ecology framework to this dynamic site of policy diffusion, financing, implementation, and environmental activist contestation, this research seeks to answer how imagined, promised, and materially constructed futures are shaping the political and physical landscapes of EU candidate countries.


Valentina Faggiani (University of Granada, Spain)

Valentina Faggiani is an Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law (Profesora Ayudante Doctora de Derecho Constitucional) at the University of Granada (Spain). She obtained her Ph.D. in Law at the University of Granada in the framework of a co-tutela agreement with the University of Ferrara (Italy). She has published numerous articles in peer reviews and collective books in Spain and abroad on the following topics: the protection of fundamental rights from a multilevel perspective, European judicial dialogue, the judicial cooperation in criminal matters, immigration and asylum, international criminal law and European Constitutional Law.

Project – title: The Reform of the Common European Asylum System

The reform of CEAS (the Common European Asylum System) is a key issue for the European process of integration and the survival of the EU. The institution of a common policy of immigration and asylum and the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (art. 3 TEU) are connected. Migratory flows and the influx of asylum seekers and refugees have become structural and physiological phenomena of our society.

The humanitarian crisis of refugees has shown the deficiencies and contradictions of this system. The exponential increase in the flow of migrants, especially through irregular channels, has showed the lack of solidarity and mutual trust between Member States and, in general, the limits and contradiction of this policy. In addition, in the last months, the sanitary emergency derived by Covid-19 has aggravated the situation, risking the collapse of the system.

Therefore, in this third phase of the CEAS, it needs to replace the deficiencies of CEAS, adapting it to the new EU context. The EU has to adopt a deep, systematic and holistic reform, which interests the main aspects of the EU asylum policy, allowing the establishment of a common refugee status, based on uniform standards.
In this regard, the present project consists of two parts. In the first part it will realize a contextualization of the topic and it will study the main contradictions and paradoxes that currently affect the CEAS system. In the second part, it will focus on the perspectives of reform. The purpose is to elaborate proposals of reform that could contribute to the institution of a system that effectively protects the fundamental rights of refugees and asylum seekers.


Filip Balunović (Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy)

Filip Balunovic received a PhD from the department of Political Science and Sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence. His research interest includes political economy, social movements, Marxism, political philosophy and political theory. He graduated from the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received his MA degree in International Relations and European Studies from the European Institute in Nice. He received his second MA degree in Human Rights and Democracy from Universities of Sarajevo and Bologna. Balunovic is the executive editor of the Serbian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique and author of the book “Freedom Notebooks” (Mediteran, 2014) (Serbian “Beleske sa slobode”). He is lecturing at the Department of Politics, at the Faculty of Media and Communication in Belgrade. He is a research fellow at the CAS SEE in Rijeka.

Project – title: The Fresh Air of Eco-Mobilizations in Former Yugoslavia: Systemic Critique or (another) Narrow Field of Contestation?

Mobilizations in Former Yugoslavia in the past ten years took place in different fields of contestation, including higher education and urban development. Other mobilizations occurred on the wider basis and pushed forward popular critical discourses. With the rise of ‘green’ activist consciousness, the horizons of the political have slowly started shifting, as well. The option of incorporation of ecology into a more comprehensive critique of the (peripheral) capitalism has been thus opened. This research proposal aims at tackling the issue of eco activism in Serbia and Kosovo, in order to address the extent to which this type of activism contributes to the wider critique of the post-socialist peripheral capitalism. The researcher thus wonders about whether the newly arising ecological consciousness on the European periphery may contribute to the overall struggle against systemic fallacies of ‘transition’ and its main pillars embodied in neoliberal economy on the one hand, and chauvinist ethno-nationalism, on the other. The two case studies I am hereby covering, include the two movements against private investments in micro hydropower plants in south Serbia (“Ne damo reke Stare planine”) and south Kosovo (in Štrpce) where both Serbs and Albanians stood up in defence of their rivers.


Marija Ott Franolić (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia)

Marija Ott Franolić is an independent researcher and currently a fellow at CAS SEE in Rijeka. She completed her PhD studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, with the thesis dedicated to exploring women’s everyday lives, based on their diaries and autobiographies. She is actively involved in the projects of the NGO Blaberon, aimed at encouraging reading and critical thinking. Her interests include the development of reading habits in younger children, the connection between reading and critical thinking, the influence of reading on our personality, feminism, women’s history, cultural studies, and women’s literature. She is the author of several scientific and popular articles, and has published the book Dnevnik ustremljen nedostižnom (A Diary of the Unattainable) about women’s everyday lives and their autobiographical texts.

Project – title: READ, THINK, FEEL, ACT: Can reading literature be a path to becoming empathic and critical individuals, ready for social change?

“Fiction enhances our vocabulary and imagination, gives us tools to describe and understand our lives, to make sense of the world. Reading fiction also offers readers a way to identify with the characters and imagine different worlds, experience new challenges, to put oneself in the shoes of the other and maybe even feel empathy with him, her or it.

In the light of rising xenophobia all over the world, and keeping in mind Adorno’s claim that the inability to identify with others led to Auschwitz, it is important to question whether identification with literary characters can be a fertile ground to identification with people in real life, those leading different lives. Can fiction, and especially fiction that disturbs us, offer readers a way to broaden their horizons, to stop seeing the “limited knowledge as truth” (Horkheimer & Adorno) and become empathic subjects ready to embrace societal changes? Or is this notion just wishful thinking?”