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Dissertation Projects


A study of anti-immigrant attitudes and narratives among post-Yugoslav immigrants

PhD Researcher: Maja Barišić, MA
Mentors: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber, 2. Ao.Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr.rer.soc.oec Katharina Scherke

The main research question of this study is how and why the Post-Yugoslav immigrants in the EU come to adopt anti-immigrant views against non-European immigration?

The main scientific goal of this research project is to contribute to the study of anti-immigrant attitudes and narratives from the sociology of emotion perspective. The dissertation will engage with existing political sociology and social psychology theories on the potential causes of anti-immigrant attitudes. Three auxiliary research questions are:

  1. How salient is the non-European immigration issue for PY immigrants in the EU and why?
  2. Which realistic and/or symbolic threats take precedence in PY immigrants’ anti-immigrant narratives?
  3. How is emotion given meaning in the PY immigrants’ anti-immigrant narratives and the related extreme right discourse?

Related to this exploration, the dissertation will include an interpretation of non-rational elements of the extreme right ideology, which may contribute to the conceptualisation of the extreme right parties and movements.

The secondary scientific goal is to contribute to transnational studies of migration, which usually assume that diasporas are dedicated to particularistic political goals, even when practiced through transnational networks. However, diaspora networks can engage in even wider, supranational ideas – such as the transnational extreme right idea of defence of Europeanness against non-European immigrants. Another auxiliary research question is:

  1. How are the PY groups involved with and what do they bring into extreme transnational anti-immigrant networks?

Methods of data analysis and data collection

  1. Statistical analysis of the European Social Survey 2016 data, with a focus on persons originating from the countries of the former Yugoslavia (post-Yugoslav immigrants);
  2. Content analysis of the 2019 Micronarratives Survey with post-Yugoslav immigrants in Austria and Germany;
  3. Sociological discourse analysis of the interview data collected with a small number of workers, political activists, academics, and journalists of PY origin in one country.


Constructing the identity of the informal settlement Kaludjerica

PhD Researcher: Sara Božičević, MA
Mentors: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber, 2. O.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. (mult.) Karl Kaser

The research project “Constructing the identity of the informal settlement Kaludjerica” analyzes the narratives about the informal settlement Kaludjerica. Situated on the outskirts of Belgrade, Kaludjerica is supposedly the largest informal settlement in the region, and some say even wider. While negative stereotypes on informal settlements and slums are common, this study will demonstrate how the narratives about Kaludjerica are a product of a specific context. In 1948, the settlement was a village of 948 citizens, while in 1981, already around 12 000 people lived there. The living conditions throughout the 1980s were unsanitary and subpar. Only at the beginning of the 2000s did the settlement receive an upgrade in infrastructure. Nonetheless, the demonization and negative image persisted. Why is Kaludjerica considered as a place where “seljaci” (peasants), “primitives” and “low-lives” who vote for Milošević and SNS and listen to “turbo-folk” live? Why is it that Kaludjerica is often called out for not having sewage system when almost half of Belgrade doesn’t have one as well. This research project will show how the narratives about Kaludjerica emerged due to the elitist approach of the communist regime that actually promoted more middle-class, urban lifestyles, and had a disregard for peasant groups who migrated to cities, situated around peripheries, and became the newly established working class.
Kaludjerica is not an exception when it comes to informal housing in Belgrade, it is actually considered that around 40% of the stock is in some way informal. In order to provide a fresh perspective on the nature of urbanization in Belgrade, the study will use a concept originally developed for the Global South, Roy’s urban informality as a mode of urbanization, to explain housing dynamics from the late 19th century until today.
The dissertation uses qualitative research methodology, namely ethnography and interviews as research methods.


Shared spaces of work, housing and public spaces in the example of the City of Graz

PhD Researcher: Malte Höfner, BSc MSc
Mentor: Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Ulrich Ermann

Demographic and economic transformation processes, such as immigration, re-urbanization, increasing mobility and the effects of digitization and new trends such as the sharing economy ask how spaces are (commonly) shared in everyday life?

A good field of observation for daily practices of sharing is urban space. In the city as a ‘limited’ and dense area we constantly share different spaces with each other. Be it in the form of our daily encounters with strangers at certain public places or be it in the form of sharing a place of work such as an office or even our own apartment. Together with the digitization and a highly individualised knowledge society, urban space has created a multitude of new forms of lifestyles, work and places in the last decade.

The research project "Raumteilen" (Sharing Spaces) investigates this question and is framing the work of my dissertation project. Looking from a theory of practices perspective, the research project searches structures of acting that create new spatial configurations through "practical" sharing on the one hand and simultaneous practices of spatial "dividing" on the other by conducting qualitative case studies. Interdependencies between sharing and dividing within the urban fabric are therefore translated into three types of everyday life spaces.

These "micro-geographies" of working, living, and public spaces assure new insights into our urban societies. The research project aims to help identify different types of practices that contribute to the production of urban spaces. Capturing this polarizing spatial phenomena in order to better understand how society is less affected by the divisiveness, but more efficacious in the unity and bedrock of sharing space(s) commonly. Based on qualitative methods, the research is implemented in the medium-sized City of Graz. Interviews and participant observations have been conducted in shared spaces of work, housing and public spaces of selected neighbourhoods in Graz.

The spatial reorganization of current debates on urban transformation is seen in the increasing significance of the platform economy and changing work patterns through the knowledge economy. Hence, it is essential to examine how collective practices and routines in shared spaces of work and living can offer and encourage radical arrangements for a resilient socioeconomic transformation.


The Relationship between the State and the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IRCA) in the Context of Educational Policy Challenges - A Legal and Political Science Analysis of Basic Structural Concepts

PhD Researcher: Mag.iur. Michael Kramer
Mentors: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Joseph Marko, 2. Ao.Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr.theol. Wolfgang Weirer

research goals: Deconstruction and reinterpretation of principles of Austrian religious (education) law.

research questions:

1) Which (religious) legal, (educational) political and school organisational challenges, conflicts and tensions determine in which way the relationship between the state and IRCA in the educational context?
2) How is the relationship between state and IRCA to be interpreted in the religious-legal and educational policy context along Joseph Marko's theory of "Multiple Diversity Governance"?
2a) How are the basic structural concepts of Austrian religious law defined with regard to the relationship between the state and IRCA?
2b) How are the terms 'civic education' and 'Austrian-Islamic identity' to be interpreted in the light of expert interviews with state school authorities and IRCA school authorities?

choice of theories: Multiple Diversity Governance by Joseph Marko, in specific refering to functional interdependence of law and politics as well as the modell of integration and autonomy.

choice of methods:

Literature and internet research, expert interviews and content analysis folowed by norm contestation and triangulation of principles through multiperspectivity (legal, political, religious, school organisational), multidimensionality (legal-dogmatic, legal-theoretical, legal-sociological) and multifunctionality (of actors, principles, values).

expected results (a few points taken from the first part of the dissertation):

Review of the normative foundations after identifying potential challenges and areas of tension with the legal-dogmatic approach with regard to legal gaps, unequal treatment and conceptual uncertainties, especially in the cultural and social state area of education;
Better understanding of hitherto undefined legal terms as well as of the various legal dichotomies and dilemmas as well as political and school organisational challenges in the field of Islamic religious education (IRE), i.e. concrete cognitive interests lie in the evidence-based visualisation of tensions between the state and IRCA in the context of the IRE as well as in attempts to explain them and alternative solutions by means of theoretical considerations;
Enabling a more differentiated and precise view of IRCA and its social and inner-religious responsibility for a continuously growing part of the Austrian population;
Conclusions and instructions for legislation as well as for government and party policy in dealing with IRCA and religious education;


Durative adverbials and aspectual composition in Slavic

PhD Researcher: Stefan Milosavljević, MA
Mentor: Univ.-Prof. PhD Boban Arsenijević

The thesis deals with syntax and semantics of the so-called durative adverbials (DAs) in Slavic languages, with a special focus on Serbo-Croatian (SC). The main goal is to explore their role in aspectual composition – especially regarding the relationship between grammatical aspect and telicity in Slavic and cross-linguistically.

DAs, together with in-adverbials, constitute the temporal modification test (TMT) – the most standard diagnostics for telicity and/or inner aspect (a.o. Dowty 1979, Krifka 1998, Borik 2006, Arsenijević 2006, Champollion 2017): DAs modify atelic predicates and in-adverbials modify telic predicates – but not vice versa, as in (1):

(1)          a. John run for an hour / *in an hour.               [atelic]

               b. John wrote a letter in an hour /*for an hour         [telic]

In Slavic languages, DAs, except for their standard use with imperfective verbs, are also used with some perfective verbs, e.g. those with the delimitative prefix po-, as in (2) from SC:

(2)          On je juče posedeoperf. kod nas dva sata. (’He stayed with us for two hours yesterday.’)

The use of DAs in contexts like (2) has led some researchers, e.g. Borik 2006, Ramchand 2008, Fleischhauer & Czardybon 2016, to claim that perfective verbs in Slavic are not necessarily telic, since, according to TMT, not all prefixes in Slavic yield telicity (as proposed e.g. in Arsenijević 2007, Žaucer 2009), despite their unique role as perfectivizers. Even those approaches that generally endorse the view that all prefixes introduce telicity fail to account for the role of the delimitative po- in contexts like (2) (e.g. Łazorczyk 2010).

The thesis aims at providing an analysis and resolving the mentioned controversies – by an in-depth exploration of possible syntactic and semantic environments DAs can occur in – w.r.t. grammatical aspect, negation, different types of prefixes (lexical/superlexical), different semantic classes of verbs, etc. The analysis will be mainly based on the database currently being developed within the project Hyperspacing the Verb. The scale approach (e.g. Kennedy & Levin 2008, Solt 2015) will be used as the core theoretical apparatus.


In pursuit of truth: Examining ICTY’s comprehensive record of past war crime violations

PhD Researcher: Marija Mirčevska, MSc

This research seeks to investigate the premise that international criminal tribunals can write history.  This investigation is situated in the ontological and epistemological debate between legal positivism or liberal legalism that claims clear separation between law and morality, objectivity and impartiality in the administration of the law, and critical traditions who reject legal formalism and objectivism, argue law is indeterminate, incoherent and contradictory, judicial objectivity is impossible and political neutrality or philosophical objectivity do not exist. In the more narrow context of international criminal tribunals, the debate can be located between positions that argue, on one hand that “the law's main business [is] to weigh the charges brought against the accused, to render judgment, and to mete out due punishment” (Arendt 1964) and on the other hand, claims that assert that  “at a minimum, central truths, as relative as they may be, must be established in order to provide a historic record of what occurred to mitigate the simmering effects of the conflict” (Bassiouni 1996). The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, describing its legacy, claims that the “tribunal’s judgements have contributed to creating a and provided the basis for future historical record, combatting denial and preventing attempts at revisionism“. Therefore, this inquiry seeks to answer the following research questions:

• Can international criminal tribunals set comprehensive records of mass human rights violations and should their success be evaluated against this criterion?

• What are the differences and similarities between legal and historical inquiries in conceptualizing and constructing “truths”, when dealing with mass human rights violations?

• What value do we ascribe to judicial truth(s) in comparison to the “other truths”, when dealing with mass human rights violations?

• What historical narratives did the ICTY constructed in selected case studies?

• Is there any indication of intra-court and inter-court narrative pluralism, in the selected case studies?


Where is Jasenovac?

PhD Researcher: Richard Newell, MA
Mentors: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber, 2. Assoz. Prof. Dr. Vjeran Pavlaković (University of Rijeka)

This research aims to locate the WWII concentration camp Jasenovac amidst the competing discourses over its existence. Since the end of the Second World War, the legacy of the Nazi-allied Croatian Ustaša’s brutality, symbolised by Jasenovac has continued to trouble the relationships between the people living in the region, both politically and socially, until the present day. The central question at the heart of the the research is: are the discourses found in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina of a nature that contributes to the ontological instability of the people and societies across the region? Beginning with two memorial-museums, JUSP Jasenovac (Croatia) and JUSP Donja Gradina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), the dissertation performs an analysis of the way Jasenovac is discussed politically, academically, in the media and socially. It is expected to find that, though the discourses are more nuanced than previously thought, with positive contributions drowned out, that the discourses are not of a positive nature that contributes to a sense of ontological stability. Importantly, the research will show where and amidst whom, more precisely, the discourses on Jasenovac are to be found. 

This line of inquiry emerges from genocide-studies background that understands the lingering power that memory and its discourses have. When these discourses are negative (ie, based on denial, expressing aggression, hatred etc), it is widely understood that they serve as (one of many) precursors of mass atrocity and violence. They do this by continually undermining a group’s ontological instability, as a result, making them more resort to violence. 

Within the board umbrella of ‘discourse analysis’, this paper employs a form of analysis that scans the discourses for the types of language, performance and imagery that can trigger a sense of instability. Analysis is performed by visiting sites and analysing them and performing interviews with those working there, analysing treatment of Jasenovac in the local media and political speeches, academic output, as well as analysing social media. This is accompanied by semi-structured expert interviews with people from each of the fields above, to help provide context to each of the observations. 


Social movements in divided societies: opportunities of accessing and expanding citizenship- the case of North Macedonia

Dissertantin: Lura Pollozhani, MSc
Mentoren: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber, 2. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr.phil. Robert Pichler (Academy of Sciences Vienna)

The doctoral thesis explores the practice of citizenship in divided societies through social movements. Specifically, the thesis looks into social movements in North Macedonia which centered around cross-cutting issues which in principle could foster cross-group support and mobilization in a divided context. Three such recent movements fit this categorization: the Colorful Revolution, the I Protest movement, the EcoGuerilla movement, and to some extent the I Protest Tetovo group. The research focuses on movements in two cities in North Macedonia, Skopje and Tetovo, with the aim of analyzing dynamics in inverted cases, meaning when the ethnic majority group and the ethnic minority group are inverted and whether this makes any difference in the mobilization methods and in practices of citizenship. Ethnic groups are not the only subject of research, as the analysis is open to identifying other components that arise in the field, such as gender, socio-economic background and ideology. This constituted the starting point of the research into social movements and citizenship in divided societies. However, field work already highlighted several issues, such as what it means to be a citizen and to practice one’s citizenship. A reconciliation of the dilemmas on the field and the literature was attained by the use of the concept of the activist citizen, which brings together theories of social movements and of citizenship and which allows for nuance and fluidity in the analysis in order to reflect the experiences and the views of the participants in the different movements without constricting the research into a civic and ethnic dichotomy. The research methods for this research include interviews with activists, participant observation of the protests, and focus group discussions with protestors and non-protestors. The thesis is ultimately designed to showcase how different groups practice their citizenship or how they become citizens in the framework of the activist citizen. It will further establish which methods of mobilization of social movements enable such a development by creating open spaces which can address and encourage the presence of diverse voices and experiences. In terms of theoretical contribution, the doctoral thesis seeks to explore new uses of theories of citizenship and social movements in the context of divided societies.


Visible and Invisible Transformations by Agriculture 4.0 and the (Re-) Construction of Rurality

PhD Researcher: Mag. Ernst Michael Preininger
Mentor: Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Ulrich Ermann

The PhD project focusses on the production part of food supply and effects of digitalization on it and on people involved. As defined research goals, it aims to

A) visualize and analyze structural changes in social and spatial realms connected with agricultural production, namely transformations of practices, ruralities and human-environmental-relations,

B) identify new meaning relations between agricultural practice and „ rurality “, urban and rural, human and non human, and 

C) characterize social consequences of digitalization and indicatorization on agricultural knowledge and visceral dimensions.

The qualitative research agenda is designed to reflect personal expieriences and future perspectives of farmers in Styria and Carinthia in a qualitative way apart from a quantifiable assessment logic used in technology evaluation research. Therefore, qualitative methodology of social sciences is used in the research processes, such as a visual method called Photo Voice, Qualitative Picture Analysis, Narrative Interviews and Discourse Analysis. Theoretical key concepts derive from Science and Technogy Studies (STS) (social constructions are human-made conventions, non-human „things“ are to be seen as part of social interactions and technology is not a contradiction to nature and natural production can be technology-facilitated), as well as from Post-Human and Assemblage - perspectives (the materiality of things has influence and impact on social developments). With my dissertation, I expect to contribute to the expansion and diversification of knowledge concerning food systems and new technologies, highlight ways and perspectives agricultural of enterprises and peripheral regions and gain insights on social mechanisms of the construction of spaces and identities as well on agricultural knowledge transfer and production.


Europeanization by Other Means: Europe and Post-Yugoslav Art Practices

PhD Researcher: Biljana Purić, MA

While focusing on the processes of Europeanization of the former Yugoslav republics, this project will look into the artistic practices from the region in order to analyse the critical potential of art concerning the broader social context. This project will first address the complexities of contextualization and understanding of Europeanization, Europe, the Balkans, and Southeast Europe as parameters for contextual positioning of the processes happening in the region. This part of the analysis will form the basis for an understanding of different approaches and attitudes towards Europeanization as effected in art. By elucidating the conceptual implications of the proposed terminology and the interconnectedness of meanings inherent to it, the artistic responses can be better understood as well. The second part of the project will be dedicated to the examination of artistic production that relates to the complex theoretical and conceptual understandings of Europe and Europeanization as described above.


Power and Ideology in the Urban Space: the case of Skopje 2014

PhD Researcher: Branimir Staletović, LL.M. MA
Mentor: Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber

The dissertation looks at the urban project called Skopje 2014 – how it came about, what is the role of politics and ideology in designing the new urban plan and who are central protagonists behind it. Seeking to capture the complexity of the urban project, the dissertation speaks to the field of architecture and urban design politics, nationalism and nondemocratic regimes. It is a case study of a semi-authoritarian government, which had invested a great deal of state resources in promoting national, conservative and illiberal ideas in the period between 2006 and 2017.  In this way, the dissertation seeks to advance the knowledge of post-socialist urban politics in the context of so-called "hybrid and competitive authoritarian regimes."

I draw my sources from newspapers, web portal, reports and speeches of key actors. Additionally, I have conducted several interviews with relevant subjects in North Macedonia. I also draw extensively from the secondary methodology. Several independent agencies have investigated the link between different institutions and actors involved in the project. This is helpful for my project as it reveals the role and the link between the political and economic power structures in redesigning the capital.

The dissertation seeks to advance the knowledge in studies on nationalism, authoritarianism and urban design politics. There is a lack of empirical research involving these three disciplines. Also, nationalism is often seen as a destructive and conflictual ideology, while its sociological dimension appears to be of secondary importance. In my dissertation, I will draw attention to these elements and hopefully advance the state of the art in the studies of urban design and politics.


From nation-building to political survival: Turkish foreign policy in Kosovo and Serbia (2013-2018)

PhD Researcher: László Szerencsés, MA
Mentors: 1. Prof. Dr. Kerem Öktem; 2. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber

Turkish foreign policy in the Balkans has gone through a transformation between 2013 and 2018, from being institutionally driven and mostly inclusive to become personalized and at times repressive. The goal of the dissertation is to contribute to the broader conversation of populist International Relations (IR) by linking nation-building strategies with political survival tactics, and to answer the question why leaders of semi-authoritarian political regimes turn to leaders of similar regimes. As empirical cases, I am looking at why the personalized foreign policy tactics of Turkey led to often unexpected outcomes in the different political systems of Kosovo and Serbia between 2013 and 2018.

First, the work builds on the assumption that Turkey, Serbia, and Kosovo all have ontological insecurity over geopolitical belonging, which leads to surprising alliance choices. While leading theories of constructivism in IR explain this with the countries’ response to external events, critical theories put more emphasis on the power of narratives employed by leaders. Second, focusing on the transition from ideology-driven nation-building strategies to pragmatic political survival tactics, I look at the agency behind Turkey’s journey from being seen as a role model for Muslim democracies to become a competitive authoritarian regime. And third, as national narratives unfold in time and space, through the “domestic abroad”, the dissertation dissects how the state-led inclusion and co-optation of loyal diasporic groups and exclusion of disloyal subjects, i.e. the Gülenists, play out in the different domestic political contexts in Kosovo and Serbia.

I hypothesize that Turkey’s foreign policy in Kosovo and Serbia is mainly motivated by its narrative power in Turkish domestic politics. However, there is also content in it, i.e. the reconstruction of historical monuments and economic investments, which Serbian and Kosovar leaders instrumentalize for their own political ends. Thus, the methodology is inspired by discourse analysis to discuss the leadership generated communicative acts directed at the electorate to mitigate ontological insecurity. Besides, semi-structured expert interviews conducted in all three countries complement the dataset to account for the inclusive acts of leaders beyond national borders aimed at nation-building, or for the more exclusive short-term tactics of political survival in times of regime insecurity.


Politicizing Public Administration in Yugoslav successor states; the cases of Croatia, Serbia & fYROM and the legacy of self-management socialism

PhD Researcher: Konstantinos Tasopoulos,MA
Mentors: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber, 2. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Josef  Marko

Former Yugoslavia has been and is a fascinating research topic for social sciences. The civil war, issues of nationalism, national identity building, self-management socialism and its functions are the most popular topics for researchers focusing on the Western Balkans and specifically on former Yugoslavia. However little to no research has been done concerning the successor states themselves especially on how they function on an administrative level. The functions, the legislation regulating these functions as well as the reason why the nature of public administration presents special features, are not such popular subjects for the majority of researchers situated outside of the former Yugoslav countries. In an effort to expand the fields of study, idiosyncrasies of three case studies (Croatia, Serbia and N. Macedonia) are depicted and analyse that one could call characteristic for the majority of post-socialist states in the region of former Yugoslavia.

Public administration in the successor states is a mixture of socialist remnants entrenched both in the social and administrative mentality and a persistent effort of enhancing administrative impartiality. To achieve this impartiality together with a politically unbiased administrative structure, the introduction of strict legislation and practices have been the primary reformative foci of the new state governments since the dissolution of the SFRY.


Between national narrative and new discoveries: Post-2016 migration from Turkey to Greece

PhD Researcher: Gül Üret, MA
Mentors: 1. Dr. Kerem Öktem, 2. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber

Recent years have seen an increase of Turkish nationals leaving the country as a reaction to the Islamisation of Turkish politics, the conservative turn in society, and the government turning increasingly authoritarian. Greece, given its geographical proximity and position as the country neighbouring Turkey, has been a natural first stop - temporary or permanent - for people seeking a way out of the country. What is novel about the migration to Greece is the disparity of the people. Beside their different motives for leaving the country they vary along socio-economic class, legal status in host and home country, ideological and religious orientation, and carry with them different social, human, cultural, economic, and ideological capitals. Among them are wealthy Turks obtaining residence permits in Greece through an investment scheme; well educated young people arriving on special purpose visas and signed employment contracts to work at low-paid call centres; and asylum seekers arriving through unauthorised routes, some of them left-wing political activists, mainly Kurds from Southeast Turkey, while a significant part of them are followers of the religious Gülen movement, who, by the Turkish government, is said to be behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. This dissertation examines how this new wave of Turkish migration is challenging the national narrative of Greek and Turkish nationalism. The two modern nation-states and their national identities were in the 20th Century formed against each other with an Orthodox Greek national identity against a Sunni Turkish one. Furthermore, the national discourse of both states have presented the ‘Other’ as a homogeneous, enemy entity (Hirschon, 2006; Heraclides, 2011; Lytra, 2014; Öktem et al., 2009; Grigoriadis 2013; Özkirimli & Spyros, 2008). The relationship between the two people and especially Greek-Turkish relations are therefore deeply connected with national history, ideology, events, and interests. The study builds on mixed qualitative research methods and extensively relies on oral history and ethnographically inspired multi-sited participant observation conducted in Athens between 2018-2020.


Attempted Statehood and Legitimization of a De Facto State: A Case Study of the Republic of Serbian Krajina

Dissertant: Jan Vlakančić, MA
Mentoren: 1. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Florian Bieber, 2. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Joseph Marko

Hypothesis: It is hypothesized that RS Krajina employed statehood legitimization strategy which was inadequate to force Croatia – first as a competing claimant and after as a parent state – to waiver the claim for its territorial integrity and which strategy was not in accordance with the current prevailing domestic and international law norms, which ultimately disabled the possibility for international recognition of RS Krajina as a member of contemporary system of sovereign states.

Research Questions: How did the RS Krajina leadership construct its statehood legitimization strategy, on which grounds did they strive to secure international recognition, and which means were used to fulfill these aims? How did the RS Krajina statehood legitimization strategy influenced on domestic – primarily Croatian – and international actors, what were the implications of this strategy upon them and what was their reasoning towards RS Krajina statehood legitimization and international recognition claims? Why did the RS Krajina strategy for statehood legitimization and international recognition fail?  

Aims and Objectives: to analyze RS Krajina legitimization strategy for statehood and claims for international recognition; to critically evaluate RS Krajina statehood legitimization strategy through the political dimension and domestic/international legal spectrum; to outline and analyze the reasoning of domestic and international factors upon RS Krajina statehood strategy and claims for international recognition; to acquire new insights, suggest proposals and solutions, and ultimately contribute the existing debates/theory in understanding of the raised problematics regarding de facto and de iure aspects of statehood legitimization but also regarding contemporary discourses of the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Novelty: the hypothesis, research questions and methodology of the dissertation has not yet been made like this before; the topic is specific and has not been adequately covered nor analyzed in significant detail and depth which we shall aim to rectify with the usage of proposed methodology; new sources will be used within the research and also sources which have been misused, neglected or overseen and; the dissertation will shed new light towards the corresponding theory by establishing new empirical findings and insights, offering proposals and solutions, and ultimately contribute the existing debates.

Theory and Concepts: Primary: focus will be on de facto and de iure aspects of statehood, i.e., concept of a de facto state as a theoretical foundation – aimed to define what constitutes an entity to be classified as a de facto state as opposed to de iure states and to bind this concept with statehood legitimization strategy of RS Krajina in order to observe on which grounds RS Krajina leadership construct this strategy. Secondary:  international law theories of recognition (constitutive and declaratory). In further contextualization: concept of self-determination and international law principles of territorial integrity, uti possidetis iuris and non-intervention.

Research Sources and Methodology: Dominant usage of primary sources and reduction in the usage of secondary sources – sources will be substantially reduced to ones that correspond to our topic and field of interest, and will be scrutinized upon following standards: 1. depth, coverage and scope; 2. objectivity and impartiality; 3. applicability and currency; 4. authority, accuracy and reliability; 5. nature of the source and originality; 6. peer review.

Methodologically this dissertation is characterized by its case study-intrinsic features with exploration of the topic by the usage of deductive approach (top-down). Employment of both quantitative and qualitative methods will be connected with interdisciplinary dual-level analysis focused on 1. political and 2. legal (domestic/international) aspects of the dissertation. It will be essential to use also historical approach as a “contextual glue” between these levels and research considerations, by offering valid evidence and explanations in order to provide in-depth reasoning why something occurred and aid in the understanding of overall chronology of events that took place.


From workers to entrepreneurs: transformation of Albanian migrants in SR Slovenia from state-employed labourers to workers and owners of small family businesses

PhD Researcher: Mladen Zobec, MA

The research will try to reconstruct the changes that were undergone by Albanian migrants in Slovenia from the early decades of their migration to the northernmost Yugoslav republics. The major focus of the research will be the transformation of Albanian migration from unskilled, seasonal, mostly male workers without pre-existing social ties to Slovenia to a type of migration that is increasingly characterised by the private or informal economy and familial ties, which I suspect were more characteristic of the Albanian than any other part of the Yugoslav labour force.

I suspect that the drive to small businesses was connected to the changing situation in Kosovo, where there was a growing surplus of agricultural labour force and increasing rate of unemployment. It is possible, however, that the habit of relying on one’s own business combined with an attitude of distrust toward the Yugoslav state, were among the reasons that contributed to a higher share of Albanians in Slovenia setting up their businesses as well, despite the much lower unemployment rate in SR Slovenia. To explore this hypothesis, the research will combine literature review, archival research and fieldwork.

The current plan is to do a case study of an industrial town in Slovenia such as Celje, Ljubljana or Kranj. These were industrial centers where the majority of the Albanian labour force was employed. For research purposes I plan to conduct oral history interviews which are pertinent for the research since an ever growing portion of Albanian migration was facilitated by family members and included their involvement in family businesses. This is a realm in which the division of labour, working conditions and attitudes of workers were not accounted for by the state or republican statistics and other surveys or written documents.



Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil.

Florian Bieber

Zentrum für Südosteuropastudien
Schubertstraße 21/I, 8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 6822

Academic Coordination


Hrvoje Paić

Zentrum für Südosteuropastudien
Schubertstraße 21/I, 8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 6824

Administrative Coordination


Tanja Bilaver

Zentrum für Südosteuropastudien
Schubertstraße 21/I, 8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 6823

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