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Autumn 2021


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.


Marko Luka Zubčić (University of Rijeka, Croatia)

Marko-Luka Zubčić holds a PhD in Philosophy from University of Rijeka, with the dissertation titled “Certain Fundamentals of the Design and Assessment of Social Epistemic Systems”. His main research focus is institutional/systems-oriented social epistemology, an interdisciplinary study of epistemic properties of governance systems. His work was published in Synthese, Philosophy & Society and Ethics & Politics, and he co-edited a Special Issue of Phenomenology & Mind. He works in policy research and development, with particular focus on food security (the design and development of the Food Network in Croatia), and on the design and development of lottocratic and collective intelligence instruments for purposes of better institutional problem-solving. He also works as a communication strategist for both the non-governmental and private sector.

Project – title: “Institutional Epistemology of Open Order”

Building on work of Helene Landemore, studies in division of cognitive labour, New Diversity Theory and Ostromian political economy, I present the institutional structure of an Open Order, and show how it outperforms representative democracy, minimal state and technocracy in solving complex problems due to its epistemically reliable use of diversity and collective intelligence.

Open Order is composed of two levels of governance responsive to two types of complex governance problems. First, Open Society upgraded with minimal epistemic infrastructure is epistemically reliable in responding to “wicked problems”, in which sustained redundant diversity conditions social learning. Second, Open Democracy understood as a polycentric lottocracy featuring open-source policy-making and utilizing information markets and quadratic voting, is reliable in responding to “learning problems”, in which solution discovery is conditioned on transient diversity in the deliberative phase and the evaluative convergence in decision-making phase.


Miloš Ćipranić (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia)

Miloš Ćipranić is a theorist of spatial arts. He obtained his PhD from the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade on the topic of description of edifices in Ancient Greek and Roman literature. A major area of his research interest is the relation of text and architectural objects.

Project – title: “The Statutes of Eastern Adriatic Communes in Space”

The statutes of East Adriatic communes contain a significant number of chapters that refer to architecture and urban planning. Legal norms conditioned the building activities, and thus, complementary, the coexistence of citizens on a given territory. Can the statute, as a legal document, be seen as a real architect of these cities and towns? Most communes of the Adriatic littoral and islands completed the codification of their statutes and provisions between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries (e.g., the Cres statute is from 1332). In the spirit of republicanism, the cities tipped the institutional balance of the common and particular in favor of the former. One of the aims of this research is to examine the hypothesis that the city is primarily a social object and a juridical artifact, which assumes that it, ontologically, rests on written and institutional acts. According to this thesis, the content of the statutes manifested across myriad dimensions of urban life and impacted the physical form of the communes. The background intention of the project is the reaffirmation of the republican idea and revitalization of an important part of southeastern European heritage.


Valeria Graziano (Queen Mary University of London, UK)

Valeria Graziano is a theorist, organizer and educator, currently a Research Associate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University, UK. Her research focuses on cultural practices that foster a creative redistribution of social reproduction, the refusal of work and the politicization of pleasure. Over the years, Valeria has collaborated as a theorist in a number of artistic projects and has been involved in numerous collective initiatives of militant action research across the cultural sector and social movements (including Micropolitics Research Group and Precarious Workers’ Brigade). She holds an MA in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths and a PhD from Queen Mary University, supported by a scholarship from the School of Management and the Drama Department. She previously held postdoctoral positions at Middlesex University and Leuphana University. Her approach is informed by historical materialism, transfeminist theories, and schizoanalysis.  Recently, she co-edited the special issue of ephemera: theory & politics in organization on ‘Repair Matters’ (2019). Valeria is one of the convenors of Pirate Care (https://pirate.care), a translocal research process focusing on collective learning and disobedient responses to the current care crisis (2018- present).

Project – title: Get Along Comrade – Institutional Tinkering As A Practice Of Freedom”

The expression “snađi se druže” (roughly translatable as get along comrade) in the former Yugoslavian space captured the diffusion of a culture of creative negotiating and cutting corners, in avoidance of bureaucratic requirements perceived as dysfunctional. Departing from this, my research process focuses on similar practices of institutional ‘tinkering’, which have been variously conceptualised but consistently spatialised in terms of a North / South divide, where the North (but also West) is identified as an accomplished democracy and modernity, while the South (but also the East) is portrayed as its defective counterpart. Tinkering can be understood as a fundamental component of care practices within and outside of institutions, a mix of experimenting and improvising which has the capacity of “holding together that which does not necessarily hold together” (Mol, 2010). I frame this as a regime of practice characterized by finding workarounds and attentively adapting to the circumstances and tools at hand. This is an essential characteristic of the political agency of plebeian constituencies and I propose it as a techno-political component of institutions wanting to promote an inclusive and pluralistic notion of freedom.


Tena Prelec (PhD, Sussex University, School of Law, Politics and Sociology)

Tena Prelec is an established analyst on the Western Balkans, including as Region Head at Oxford Analytica, a researcher at LSEE-Research on South Eastern Europe (London School of Economics and Political Science), and a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG). She is furthermore a Research Associate at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), University of Oxford, where her work has focused on international kleptocracy, conducting empirical research into money laundering and reputation laundering. Other research interests include (anti)-corruption, transnational authoritarianism, academic freedom, and the intersection between governance and geopolitics.

Project – title: Balkan Kleptocracy: Mapping the Linkages Between Home-Grown State Capture and Global Enablers in South East Europe”

In academic literature and in policy discourse, kleptocracy is increasingly recognised as a threat to equality, democracy and even to national security. While areas of the world such as Russia, Central Asia and Africa are rightly receiving attention as places whose capital is plundered and laundered at home and abroad through the help of a plethora of ‘enablers’, the investigation of this topic in relation to South Eastern Europe has so far been wholly lacking in political science & IR scholarship. This is in spite of this region being firmly recognised as a hotspot for organised crime and corruption, one that has been characterised by the rise of authoritarianism, and one that is at the centre of multiple geopolitical interests.

The aim of this project is to analyse the particular brand of kleptocracy present in the Balkans. Starting from the recognition that the actors perpetrating state capture need to be seen in conjunction with geopolitical trends, the project aims to ‘lift the lid’ on the three-way interaction among 1) authoritarian practices at ‘home’ (Balkans); 2) economic linkages with non-Western countries (e.g. China, Russia, UAE, Turkey); and 3) professional enablers facilitating these linkages (mostly located in the ‘Global North’). The project, therefore, sits at the intersection between IR and political science (recognising that what is often framed as relations among states has been increasingly fuelled by relations among political and business elites), while combining multidisciplinary elements from law, political economy and area studies.


Katarina Kušić (Aberystwyth University, UK)

Katarina Kušić earned her PhD from the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. Her work uses multi-sited ethnography to investigate processes of political and social transformations in South East Europe. She has studied everyday experiences of statebuilding and peacebuilding, and she is currently working on a new project focussing on political ecologies of land and land ownership. She is particularly interested in methodological and analytical approaches that centre on experiential knowledge, and in intersections of studies of post-socialism with postcolonial and decolonial perspectives.

Project – title: Subjects beyond intervention: The politics of improvement in Serbia”

This project rethinks processes and effects of liberal interventionism from the perspectives of those living their consequences. It thus moves beyond allochronism and gatekeeping concepts in the study of South East Europe. Subjects beyond Intervention builds onto efforts that seek to include subjects hitherto ignored in Social Sciences generally and International Relations specifically, by discussing a tension thus far overlooked: that an engagement with different subjects might not only help us understand intervention better, but also move us beyond its conceptual confines. Specifically, I argue that even though understanding intervention through specific agents, acts, and aims produced innumerable valuable insights into the dynamics of liberal interventionism and its effects, we are faced with its limits when we try to engage the lived experiences in areas of intervention. The concept of intervention itself is underwritten by assumptions that prevent both scholars and practitioners from coeval engagement with people living in areas of intervention. Such engagement, therefore, requires moving beyond and outside conceptual parameters of intervention—a project I pursue in two fields of intervention in Serbia (non-formal youth education and agricultural governance) through ethnographic engagement that follows the experiences of my interlocutors, rather than the designs of the interveners.


Andrea Colombo (University of Padova, Italy)

Andrea Colombo graduated from the University of Padova in 2020 with a PhD in philosophy, recieving magna cum laude for his dissertation on Gilles Deleuze’s influence on contemporary mathematics and physical sciences. His main fields of scholarship are morphology, history of mathematics and epistemology, with a strong emphasis on their practical application in the fields of economics and social sciences. He was a Visiting Student at Columbia University in 2019 and he is currently “Cultore di Materia” in Aesthetics at the University of Udine.

Project – title: Beyond the Environmentalism Paradigm: Greenwashing as an Assault on Democratic Norms and Decision-Making”

In a post-materialist society, individuals are the actual actors in politics. Therefore influencing the thinking of the individual is more important and effective than modifying the thinking of the community in which they live. In this context, the objectivity of science or the stability of information can be manipulated and changed, and in this new world education and social media play a role of fundamental importance. A practical example of the direct influence of individuals is greenwashing: major oil companies openly manipulate their own data, in an attempt, through social media, to make the climate emergency less frightening and to save their profits. The magnitude of this phenomenon is worldwide and involves the investment of billions of dollars and euros every year. It is therefore important to understand the phenomenon, analyze it and understand its theoretical implications.


Gabriel Rezende de Souza Pinto (Université Paris 8 – Vincennes Saint Denis, France)

Gabriel Rezende is Professor of Political Philosophy and Theory of the Constitution at the Institute of Public Law of Brasília (Instituto de Direito Público – IDP). Law Clerk at the Brazilian Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal). PhD in Philosophy at Université Paris 8 – Vincennes Saint Denis. Full CAPES scholarship holder (Programa de Doutorado Pleno no Exterior da CAPES). Masters in Law, State and Constitution at the University of Brasília (UnB). Bachelor of Laws from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). Gabriel Rezende has conducted research and has experience in the areas of Contemporary Political Philosophy, Philosophy and Theory of Law, Constitutional Law, Transitional Justice and Contemporary French Philosophy.

Project – title: “Channelling democracy: recent transformations of the legal system”

This project is concerned with a relatively simple research question (“how Courts can resist populism?”) and also a simple hypothesis (“Courts can resist populist assaults by channelling democratic participation in their proceedings”). Behind this apparent simplicity, however, lies a myriad of difficult problems. Drawing on a methodology combining insights from Luhmannean systems theory and Derridean deconstruction, we will investigate how illiberalism targets the institutional capacity of the legal system to deparadoxify its self-reference paradoxes. This will help us understand why, in moments of crisis, Courts have shown a tendency to democratize their proceedings to counter populism. In light of Latin American experience, recent literature has shown the emergence of innovative practices of channelling democracy and structuring popular participation within Supreme Courts. Those mechanism have been largely regarded as successful legitimacy building strategies. In this project, we will broaden the theoretical scope of these findings. Instead of regarding Courts as competitors towards popular/electoral support against populist governments, we will demonstrate that the practice of channelling democracy attempts to deparadoxify the legal system by reinforcing its legal character. Our focus will lie not only in the creation of new institutions through structural litigation and similar instruments. We will also focus in the institutional features that have enabled participants (litigants, third parties, public officials) to apply international human rights standards to their arguments, and to view themselves as members of a polity larger than national legal orders.


Gabriele Giacomini (University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan, Italy)

Gabriele Giacomini is Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Udine. He is a member of the Sociological Laboratory at University of Udine, of the Centre for Studies in Ethics and Politics of Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, of the “Giannino Bassetti” Foundation in Milan. He wrote the books “Psicodemocrazia” (Mimesis, Milan 2016) and “Potere digitale” (Meltemi, Milan 2018). Thanks to his research studies he was awarded the followings prizes: Premio nazionale Frascati “Elio Matassi” in 2017 (with the book “Psicodemocrazia”), Premio giovani SPe “Achille Ardigò” in 2018, “Libro ComPol dell’anno” of Italian Association for Political Communication in 2019 (with the book “Potere digitale”).

Project – title: “Democracy in the age of online polarisation. Developing new policy proposals to promote dialogue”

Liberal theorists have often examined the issue of pluralism in modern societies. Authors like Berlin, Rawls and Arendt have theorised a political system characterised by a public language through which to communicate, that still leaves room for people to continue using non-public language that is diverging and, at times, unfathomable. However, this approach has been put to the test in recent decades by novel bioethical issues or phenomena like religious radicalism and now risks being strained further by the Internet of platforms. Indeed, technologies allowing the profiling of users and the customisation of content reinforce the socio-psychological dynamics of homophily and lead to individuals closing themselves off in echo chambers and filter bubbles, thereby radicalising their own positions and those of their social groups. For these reasons, I will try to propose some political actions that, with appropriate guidelines from liberal democratic institutions, could allow ICT to mitigate the problem of online polarisation.


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.