Monthly Archives: January 2021

CAS SEE Seminars With Guests: Rafael Marín 

On Thursday,February 4th at 10 am, we hosted CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Rafael Marín, moderated by CAS SEE executive director Sanja Bojanić. The seminar is entitled: “Existential challenges and threats for the European Union in a post Brexit, post-Trump and post-Covid world”.

This seminar focused on four aspects of utmost importance for the immediate future of the integration process in a short of panoramic view:

  1. The search for European strategic autonomy.
  2. The relationship with China in the context of the signing of an agreement in principle regarding investment between the EU and China, last December 30th, 2020.
  3. The question of left-right national-populisms, illiberal democracies, and the rule of law.
  4. The economic recovery plan for the European Union.

The main aim of the talk was to suggest ideas and room for debate and exchange of views, taking into account the perception and impressions from a young Member State such as Croatia.

Rafael Marín (University of Granada, Spain) is an Assistant Professor of Public International Law (Profesor Ayudante Doctor de Derecho Internacional Público y Relaciones Internacionales) at the University of Granada (Spain). He obtained his Ph.D. in Law at the University of Granada. Master of Laws (LL.M.) at the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium), 2010-2011. He was awarded on behalf of the Curatorium of The Hague Academy of International Law with a scholarship to attend the 2015 Summer Courses on Public International Law. He has published numerous articles among others on the following topics: the protection of fundamental rights in European Union Law (EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, rights of people with disabilities…), the implications for the European and Spanish economic security of the reemergence of China, as well as the reservations made by Islamic states to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Watch the CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Rafael Marín:

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.

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: