Kevin Kenjar

CAS SEE Seminars with Guests: Čarna Brković

On Thursday, February 25th at 12:00 pm (CET) we hosted 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.

Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Čarna Brković:

CAS SEE Seminars with Guests: Larisa Kurtović

On Thursday, February 18th at 4 pm (CET), we hosted 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: 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.


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):