From the crisis to a “Third Yugoslavia”. The political project of Ante Marković and the Alliance of Reformist Forces

In the extensive literature on the crisis and the dissolution of the Second Yugoslavia, the role of the so-called “alternatives”, grounding on a democratic and progressive view of the Yugoslav state, has been understudied. My research project aims to explore the actor who most prominently embodied this option within institutions and the political system: Ante Marković, the federal Prime Minister from march 1989 to December 1991, and the Alliance of Reformist Forces of Yugoslavia (Savez Reformskih Snaga Jugoslavije, hereafter SRSJ), a party established by the same Marković in 1990. Through analysing public narratives, strategies and interactions of the Federal Government and of the party, the talk examines how a proposal explicitly grounded on “rational” and “negotiating” principles emerged and immediately faced structural or deliberate obstacles, as well as its own limits and faults, in a political arena increasingly polarized along ethno-national lines, within a context of extreme socio-economic crisis. In particular, the talk explores the Marković’s project in terms of its intrinsically political dimension and quest for social legitimacy, focusing on the following points: first, the attempt to reform the institutional framework through reshaping the federal jurisdictions and establishing a proper multi-party system at the state level, in order to set the bases for a “Third Yugoslavia”; second, the effort to convert into mobilized support the high political capital earned by its economic programme, inspired to an integration between market reforms and socialist elements (“new socialism”) rather than a fully neoliberal model, which had some correspondences with other 1989 transition paths in Central-Eastern Europe; third, the re-elaboration and re-animation of the founding historical and cultural principles of Yugoslav supranational unity.


Controlling the Borders of “Borderless” Europe in the Age of Migration

Recent international developments and the flow of people towards Europe made borders again a strong component of the European integration. Different reactions by European Institutions and EU member states showed that the classical idea of borders being marker of a territory and special identity became underlined through series of systematic implementations. The idea of European integration and its very basic principle “free movement” is facing a massive challenge amid the crisis of refugees and the flow of migration from the Middle East towards Western Europe. During the summer of 2015, Dublin convention and the way it was implemented by different member states, created new discussions on the shared responsibility of the free movement in Europe. While Eastern European countries were accused with discrimination and being hostile towards refugees, Western European countries tried to accept them while pushing for certain conditions and quotas. Nevertheless, distribution of refugees among the EU member states resulted with the disintegration of European solidarity in difficult times. Eventually, the initial stress was on the external borders of the EU and the role of agencies such as FRONTEX which were created to protect the borders of EU. “Controlling the borders” or “border management” became the common ground for the discussion of migrant crisis. Dr. Tahir discusses the refugee flow towards European Union along with EU’s “border management” policies by examining the situation in the Greek-Turkish border, where the flow of refugees from Syria is the highest. He shares his fieldwork experiences from the Aegean Coast of Turkey and the Greek-Turkish land border in Trace where the flow of irregular migrants is still going on. Having observed the situation before and after signing the acceptance agreement between Turkey and the EU in March 2016, Dr. Tahir also discusses the immediate results of the implementation of this agreement.


City Partnerships as Détente from Below? Twinning Bologna and Zagreb

This talk discusses a project, a work in progress, jointly developed by Dr Eloisa Betti and Dr Vladimir Unkovski-Korica, about the twinning of Bologna and Zagreb in the Cold War. Town twinning in the interwar period of the twentieth century has been called ‘Locarno from below’, an attempt to normalise relations in a continent ravaged by a world war. Named after the Locarno Treaties of 1925, which settled borders and promised mutual non-aggression in Europe. ‘Locarno from below’ related to attempts to use town twinning to educate populations in the spirit of partnership. Since this failed to prevent another war, why did town twinning recover after the Second World War and in the thick of the Cold War? Moreover, why concentrate on Bologna and Zagreb? This talk discusses town twinning as an attempt at overcoming several emblematic problems: improving relations between two states with recent border disputes and war; improving economic links as a bridge across political divisions; internationalising ‘municipal socialism’ as a road to national power; and increasing regional autonomies using city initiatives against the strait-jacket of nation-states. The talk therefore interrogates to what extent the links set up between Bologna and Zagreb can be seen as an early form of détente as various actors responded to the logic of a bipolar world. It also asks whether the hope of ‘détente from below’ was in fact utopian in the context of international economic inequalities, and therefore a harbinger of what we now know as globalisation. Finally, Dr Unkovski-Korica discusses the challenges of researching this topic on the Yugoslav side in relation to the state of archival sources.


From Armed Boots to Polished Suits:  A Precarious Predicament for Peacebuilding and Democratization?

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”

– Gerald Seymour, Harry’s Game, 1975

In many of contemporary intrastate conflicts, armed groups transit to politics when the conflict ends. For example, Shin Feinn in Northern Ireland, UCK in Kosovo, NLA in Macedonia, Communist in Nepal, Renamo in Mozambique, FMLN in El Salvador, just to name a few. This phenomenon is noted in peacebuilding literature; however, there are diverging views whether it is justified or not.

The “liberal peace” theory advocates that liberal norms, institutions and practices should be exported in conflict affected societies to build sustainable peace. External frameworks of understanding are seen as being superior to local ones, which need to be amended accordingly. From that perspective the inclusion of rebels is criticized because it can lead to a “war lord democracy”. The argument is that if dubious actors are able to influence the post-conflict agenda, then it can have negative consequences for peacebuilding in the long term. Others argue that peacebuilding has to rest on the “unique, social, cultural, economic, political and religious context of each country”. Studies find that if potential “peace spoilers” are included in peace processes, then they do not return to fight, but support peacebuilding. Policy approaches are pragmatic. For example, the US Department of Defense Strategic Guidance document (2012) proposes a modest approach to peacebuilding by supporting development of local institutions. Policy studies welcome inclusive peacebuilding and open leeway for inclusion of rebels, and put primacy to “’what works’ at the local level rather than ‘who ought to’ provide services”.

Couples of decades after the inter-ethnic conflicts in Southeast Europe, many of the war-time structures are politically active and relevant. For example, Ali Ahmeti and DUI in Macedonia, Hashim Thaci and PDK and Ramush Haradinaj and AAK in Kosovo, Vojislav Stanimirovic and SDSS in Croatia, and different actors and parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is puzzling to see that parties from war-time networks dominate the minority competition in Croatia and Macedonia, and that such parties are among the main competitors in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. However, it is unclear what consequences did their inclusion in politics had on peace-building and democratization? In the paper, I present tentative results from my field work done in Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. I find that parties from war-time networks contributed to peace-building; however, they impeded democratization processes. For example, they utilized conflict’s symbolic legacies as symbolic capital and convert it into electoral capital. In addition, they support social practices to sustain their symbolic capital and contribute toward divergent understanding of the past conflict. These results point out to the dilemma whether inclusion of rebels in politics is morally justified. The ramifications of rebels’ inclusion in politics have implications for the moral culture in the society.

JÖRG H. GLEITER in conversation with CAS SEE Fellows

 Architecture and Anthropocene

On the occasion of Prof. Gleiter’s visit to Rijeka, on 21st February, 2016, and after assisting at his lecture the previous day, CAS SEE Fellows had the opportunity to engage in a rather controversial discussion on Anthropocene, or more precisely, conceptual and epistemological issues of anthropogenic transformations of the earth’s land, oceans, biosphere and climate. Would it be possible to thematize the paradigm, which the chemist Paul Crutzen labeled as the Anthropocene, not only and exclusively by geologists, climatologists or physicists, to mention only a small range of researchers of scientific backgrounds, but also by philosophers, historians, sociologists, and legal scholars?

How the Humanities are responding to the huge and important shift grasping, conceptualizing and objectifying an era of human activity which is slowly lacking the human scale of things?





The Ties That (un)Bind: Affect and Organisation in the Bosnia-Herzegovina Protests, 2014

“In this lecture, I will discuss the results of my research on the 2014 mass protests in Bosnia Herzegovina. Overall, I am interested in accounting for the production and articulation of these spaces of rebellion by considering their ‘affective atmospheres’, which means that I am curious about the effects that affect have in the production of socio-spatial relations. In particular, I look at rage, anger, but especially hope as a means to understand how spaces of “togetherness” came to be created during the protests in a country where both “being together” and “occupying public spaces” represent major political and social issues in their own right. I will discuss the extent to which becoming hopeful is also a reason for disappointment, discontent and for the creation of fractures within the movement.

Overall, my goal is to discuss the potential of looking at affects such as hope to account for and explore grassroots protests and radical political movements: how they come into being, how they become movements for creating new spaces of togetherness, but also divisions and fractures; to create and sustain, but also destroy infrastructures of togetherness. Hope begins from encounters and it brings about the question of how new possibilities can be born from these encounters, which involve multiple processes of mediation, negotiation, explanation. And yet, these sites of hope, such as the protests in Bosnia, are the potential signposts that an alternative exists. As Helena Flam argues, we should pay attention to the ways in which protest movements attempt to re-socialise people through (subversive) emotions in order to show that to be angry and to voice concerns is fair and legitimate.”

– Giulia Carabelli


The Metaphysis of Gender. Not Simply a Woman (or a Man).

Is a metaphysically sound objectivist account of sexed identity possible? Do gender categories exist because we recognize real distinctions in the world or because we agree to use gender terms while according to them categorical force? In this paper, I defend a non-realistic view of gender categories vis-à-vis Sally Haslanger’s recent attempt to argue in favor of a “thin” metaphysical realism of gender categories.

The presentation is divided in two parts. In the first, I present Haslanger’s view, as characterized by the two following theses: (i) there is an objective basis for gender distinction; and (ii) this basis is not the product of discursive effect. In my analysis, particular attention is given to her critique of anti-objectivism in relation to sexual categories and to the so-called “ubiquity of mediation thesis”, i. e., that all of our access to reality is mediated by language and knowledge. In the second part, I show why Haslanger’s approach is inadequate, by showing that sexed entities are neither natural kinds (i.e. common essences which a group may share), nor “objective types” (i.e. unities without an underlying essence). Here is a more detailed layout of my argument.

There is a genuinely metaphysical disagreement about whether our gender classifications capture a natural kind or a social kind. According to the genuine nominalist, the world by itself can’t tell us what gender is and humans create categories of sexual preference and behavior: a person is regarded as a “woman” or “man” because they are induced to believe that humans are either “woman” or “man”. Realists hold that this is not the case: humans are differentiated sexually as the woman/man dichotomy exists in reality. Haslanger is critical of both approaches: according to her, gender is an “objective type” (a group of things that have a certain unity) and a social kind of unity (not discursively constructed). On her approach, there is some non-random or non-arbitrary basis for the gender unity and this unity is not a matter of sharing properties. Haslanger’s idea is that gender as a concept is discursively constructed, but gender by itself is independent of us.

Unfortunaly, Haslanger’s defense of objectivism is given without specifying what precisely is objective about sexual difference, and a conflict – I will suggest – emerges between her realistic view and her social constructionist accounts of gender. More specifically, Haslanger’s account falls short of two defects. It does not adequately capture the fact that each person’s gender identity is unique. Furthermore, it disconnects gender from the fact that criteria for distinguishing sexes differ across times and places. These defects, I argue, may be resolved by thinking of gender as referring to tropes, that is particularized property manifestation can only exist in one location at one time. Womanness, for example, is neither the special way a woman participates in a universal, nor a peculiar quality of a woman, but simply something that a particular person – and that person alone – has. Such a way of thinking about gender allows us to see a woman without identifying common attributes that all women have, or without implying that all women have a common – natural or social – identity and to explain what it is for two tokens (individual instances) to be of the same type in terms of resemblance. As result, I conclude, one’s gender may not be entirely stable and there is no feature of identity or unity itself that all women share.


The Structure and Dynamics of Migrant Smuggling from Libya to Italy

Migration and, in particular, irregular migration from North Africa and the Middle East represents one of the most relevant and demanding challenges that the European Union (EU) has to address in our age. In the last two decades, the Mediterranean Sea has become  the  most  porous  border  between Europe and its neighbours. Furthermore, it has become the  most  dangerous  border  in  the  world  between countries  that  are  not  at  war  with  each  other (Fargues & Bonfanti, 2014). In this context, over the past decade, Libya has emerged as a critical transit country for irregular migration toward the EU. Furthermore, the “Central Mediterranean route” that connects Libya to Italy is the single most dangerous migratory route in the world. The illegal transport of these migrants is in the hands of various criminal groups. In the literature on irregular migration from Africa toward Europe, contrasting claims regarding the nature, the activities and the social organisation of migrant smuggling can be found. Furthermore, many of these works are not based on solid empirical evidence. In fact, migrant smuggling is notoriously an illegal clandestine phenomenon which has been difficult to research. On the one hand, this field of study presents conceptual confusion and partial explanations; on the other hand, there is fundamental lack of hard evidence. The aim of this seminar is to explore the structure and dynamics of migrant smuggling from Libya to Italy, from a social science perspective, with a particular interest in the “criminal” dimension of the phenomenon. In particular, the presentation focuses on the evolution of migratory flows in the Central Mediterranean in the twenty-first century, the modus operandi and internal structure of smuggling networks, the role of the States in the area, and the (terrible) conditions of smuggled migrants.


Rethinking large-scale development projects in Belgrade and Zagreb

There is one general question that motivated this research: To what extent global economic restructuring and neoliberalization influence urban planning processes in transitional cities? The main aim of this research is to look into the process of urban transformation in two different institutional contexts in order to deepen our understanding of how decision-making processes in the post-socialist Balkan countries have shifted from control-oriented regulation to planning approaches more open to speculative development. In order to observe and define transformative processes the research looks into two similar typologies of transition: the post socialist Serbia and Croatia. The main unit of analysis is the city and to be more specific, the large-scale projects in Belgrade and Zagreb, ‘Belgrade on Water’ and ‘Zagreb on Sava’, in order to analyze different urban transition processes in reaction to the general neoliberal trends. This research focuses on large-scale projects in order to understand the inner-relations between diverse public and private sector actors, and views large scale urban development projects as representative of neoliberal manifestations and interactions of diverse actors in the cities across the globe. The cases ‘Belgrade on Water’ and “Zagreb on Water’ in many ways exemplify new flexible urban development approaches.  While the ‘mega’ development project in Zagreb plans to incorporate different land uses (taking on a more ecological approach, which seems to be completely missing from the case in Belgrade) and involves different actors, both projects are similar in that they represent ambiguous and controversial waterfront development projects that continue to raise questions about flexible governance approaches, ownership, social inclusion, environmental risks, etc. The research uses qualitative research methods, mainly following a hermeneutic approach. The data was gathered through semi-structured interviews and documentary material collection – scholarly research, video footage, and local newspaper media. By using urban transition as the main focus of analysis, the research aims to implement a new methodology of analyzing transition by using path-analysis approach in these two cities.


Unmapping Islam in Eastern Europe: Periodization and Muslim Subjectivities in the Balkans

This article challenges the fixed spatial and temporal disconguities of the borders between East/West and Europe/Islam that contribute to the physical and discursive partition of Balkan Muslims from the larger Muslim world. It examines the works of twentieth century Islamic scholars and activists, particularly women and underprivileged minorities, such as Melika Salihbegović, Hidajeta Mirojević, Safija Šiljak, Sheikh Haxhi Qamili, Muhammad Nasir-ud-Din al-Albani, Vehbi Sulejman Gavoçi, and Abdul-Kader Aranauti, whose intellectual labor has traversed the East/West, Ottoman/post-Ottoman, and Communist/post-Communist discontiguities. Examining Muslim histories in Eastern Europe beyond the confines of these spatiotemporalites, opens up multiple perspectives on past and present political struggles of Muslims in Eastern Europe, allowing us to explore histories and subjectivities of Muslims who saw their lived experiences not in relation to Europe but as constitutive part of the Muslim world. Their perspectives and insistence on an Islamic way of life provide an alternative reading of the history of Muslims in the Balkans, not isolated by their immediate surroundings, but as members of a transnational struggle against colonialism throughout the twentieth century. Through an analysis of their work, this article contests research on Islam in Eastern Europe that, relying on post-ottoman and post-socialist forward-moving temporalities, suggest that following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and during the socialist period, Muslims in Eastern Europe were isolated from the rest of the Ummah and attached to European geotemporalities. The choice for personalities on the fringes of their own communities allows us to deconstruct anti-colonial and post-socialist nationalist narratives that have been dominated by privileged men.