CAS Seminar

Gruia Bădescu

Sites of memory and the criminalization of authoritarian pasts: Interrogating Goli Otok in a regional and transnational frame.

“A repertoire of transitional justice practices has been mobilized in the last decades in states that experienced various incarnations of authoritarian regimes, from Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe. From trials to incriminating reports, from lustration to political declarations, these past regimes have been the object of diverse practices and discourses of criminalization. One important aspect has been the memorialization of sites of political violence, which has been mobilized by an array of actors to suit particular narratives of criminalizing past regimes. In this global context, the debates surrounding the memorialization of Goli Otok in Croatia mirror a number of processes which occurred elsewhere, while deeply connected to the specificity of memory politics in Croatia and former Yugoslavia. A political prison for mainly socialist detainees after the Tito-Stalin split, Goli Otok has been marginal to local memorialization practices, but has recently became a locus of initiatives and narratives fitting different visions and agendas. In this presentation, based on ongoing research, I scrutinize strategies and motivations of a variety of actors, the idiosyncrasies of the Yugoslav and Croatian situation, while situating it in the larger context of Central and Eastern European regional criminalization of communism and in the transnational circulation of practices between memory regions. I discuss how perspectives of place and memorialization of sites contribute to our understanding of criminalization, and how the entanglements of memories and actors function at a variety of scales, reflecting on the spatialization of multidirectional memories.”


Gruia Bădescu’s research and practice bridge the spatial and the social, with a particular interest in how interventions in urban space relate to societal and political processes of dealing with a difficult past. After his BA in Geography and European Studies from Middlebury College and his MSc in City Design and Social Science from the Cities Programme at the LSE, he worked in urban design and integrated urban development in Romania, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova. He later conducted his PhD research at the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, where he examined the relationship between the reconstruction of cities after war and the process of coming to terms with the past, with a focus on Belgrade and Sarajevo. In 2015-2016, Gruia was a Departmental Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Oxford, after which he embarked on a research project in Chile with an AHRC-Labex grant, exploring processes of memorialization of sites used for political violence during the military dictatorship and their transnational dimension, linking them with South-East Europe. Gruia joined CAS at Rijeka to continue his research around the debates on memorializing the site of Goli Otok, as well as to explore the heritage and memory dimension of urban transformations in Rijeka within the context of the European Capital of Culture.

 

Carlos González Villa

The Slovene Reaction to the European Migrant Crisis: Class and Ideology at the edge of Schengen

“The European response to the 2015 migrant crisis was initially featured by warm welcome expressions from the European elites. However, it quickly evolved into the enhancement of extremist positions and the ‘Fortress Europe’ pretension. The opposition to the limited relocation and resettlement plan of the European Commission – initially led by several Eastern European countries – ended up in the conclusion of an agreement with Turkey for the return of asylum-seekers to that country. Along this process, governments, mainstream political parties and new far-right organizations have shaped cultural-related and seemingly technical discursive lines for rationalizing the exclusion and rejection of migrants.

In this seminar, I will discuss the suitability of the idea of fascism for denoting current political developments in Europe through the analysis of a peripheral country. Peripherality makes reference to dynamics of economic hierarchisation, but also to specific political dynamics, including, in the Slovene case, questions like the justification of the closure of the ‘Balkan route of refugees’ on the assumption of the government’s responsibility to protect the Schengen external border and the intention of remaining in the core of an eventual multi-speed Europe. The key point of the discussion consists on the identification of specific political processes and dynamics of social change beyond traditional categorisations of political actors, which have become increasingly blurred.”

Carlos González Villa is a postdoctoral fellow at the CAS SEE (University of Rijeka) and member of the Research Group on Current History. He completed his PhD in Political Science in 2014 at the Complutense University of Madrid, with a thesis that addressed the process of Independence of Slovenia and its international implications. He has a strong research interest in the foreign policy of the United States towards Yugoslavia during the crisis of the dissolution. He has recently started a new research line on the ideological drift of Eastern European elites. He has been a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University (Washington DC) and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana.

JULIJA SARDELIĆ

ACTS OF CITIZENSHIP FROM THE MARGINS: THE POSITION AND AGENCY OF IRREGULARIZED ROMANI MINORITIES IN POST-YUGOSLAV SPACE

In her presentation, Julija Sardelić maps recent transformations in the position of Romani minorities caused by the disintegration of former Socialist Yugoslavia, the subsequent military conflicts, and the establishment of new post-Yugoslav states. She argues that Romani minorities have not been only the targets of physical violence conducted mostly by majorities and more dominant minorities, but also that their position was constructed through what post-colonial theory comprehends as the “epistemic violence” of redefining the boundaries of citizenry, where they fell on the margins. She examines the myriad of non-citizenship positions that many Romani individuals have occupied in post-Yugoslav space, from refugees and internally displaced to legally invisible persons.     The lecture also investigates the processes that irregularized the position of Romani individuals, who had previously been regular Yugoslav citizens, but now find themselves in a legal limbo in which they are neither recognized as citizens nor as de jure stateless persons (in Homi Bhabha’s terms, they are left somewhere in-between). In the second part of this presentation, Sardelić will focus on strategies of coping and other ways in which Romani individuals react to their irregularized position as citizens in order to show that robbing them of their legal status has not robbed them of their agency. She will show this by exploring the migration patterns that non-EU, post-Yugoslav Romani individuals traverse between the EU and post-Yugoslav space. Furthermore, she will highlight the everyday practices of Romani individuals, who remain immobile in the post-Yugoslav space and have no official access to healthcare, education, social welfare and labor market.

Marco Bresciani

In the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire. Postwar crisis, National Conflicts and New Fascist Order.

In the last two decades an increasing bibliography has focused on fascism in new ways, by shifting from a typological to a conceptual perspective and at the same time by developing transnational comparative approaches. However, the historical accounts of the Italian fascist movement and regime – the pioneering experiment and the first model of fascism – are still embedded within persistent national frameworks. Particularly striking in this respect is the growing gap between the common narratives of the ascent of Mussolini’s fascist movement and the new historiography on the global and European post-WWI crisis. What can we learn from the new researches on the imperial 1917-1923 crises and post-imperial legacies in the “Eurasian” area, in order the reframe the understanding of the early Italian fascism and its radical nationalism? In what sense, and to what extent, is it possible to compare the “squadrismo” with other synchronic phenomena of paramilitary violence in East Central Europe? A case in point will be provided by the post-Habsburg borderland of Venezia Giulia, in which the formation and success of the “squadrismo” took place as early as in 1920 and accordingly became a model for the whole Italian fascism.

 

Mariagrazia Portera

Evolutionary Aesthetics. A bridging discipline between the life and human sciences

In the last few years an increasing number of academic disciplines within the human sciences have turned to evolutionary theory to find explanations for various aspects of human behaviour (“Evolutionary Ethics”, “Evolutionary Epistemology”, “Evolutionary Linguistics”). The inquiry into the nature of aesthetics, aesthetic attitude and aesthetic judgment is no exception. Evolutionary Aesthetics (EA) is today a burgeoning sub-field of Aesthetics, the main aim of which is the “importation of aesthetics into natural sciences, and especially its integration into the heuristic of Darwin’s evolutionary theory”. Could viewing Aesthetics through the lens of Darwin’s theory of evolution contribute to the vast knowledge that philosophers have gathered about aesthetic sense, aesthetic experience and the arts? How did the aesthetic attitude originally arise in humans over the course of evolution? What would an explanatorily fruitful Evolutionary Aesthetics look like? Re-thinking Aesthetics as a bridging discipline between the Humanities and Natural Sciences, my research project is intended to analyse what it really means to say that some sort of aesthetic and artistic behaviour is constitutive of our evolved human nature.

Marcello Barison

Types of Spaces. Philosophy of Architecture.

Among the most promising conceptual articulations that constitute the contemporary philosophical debate, a prominent place is undoubtedly occupied by the intersection between philosophy and architectural theory. To date, though, there is no general philosophical approach that problematizes the architectural practice as such, developing an actual philosophy of architecture that, on a conceptual basis, discusses the fundamentals of the architectural practice and its aesthetic implications. On this basis, the research project − Types of Spaces. Philosophy of Architecture − whose general outlines I will present specifically seeks to remedy this gap. Instead of concepts, architects think in terms of lines, shapes, forms, environments, surfaces. Starting from this evidence, it is my intention to analyze ‒ while highlighting their philosophical implications ‒ some prominent ways in which contemporary architecture conceives and articulates space.