Most of my published and ongoing research engages with the social history of Yugoslavia and its successor states.
Here is a chronological/thematic overview of my research interests:
At MA level I wrote about Balkan pop-folk music as a regional postOttoman/post-socialist phenomenon which provokes ongoing debates about class distinctions, nation and gender and serves as a shorthand for (and entry point to) for a range of societal phenomena. More recently I published a short piece based on a discussion with performer Dragana Mirković about nationalism and the agency of female performers in 1990s Serbia.
Social inequalities and housing in socialist Yugoslavia
My PhD project used (non) access to housing to examine social inequalities in late-socialist Yugoslavia through oral history with working class Belgraders. The initial hook was the logic whereby subsidised social housing was weighted towards middle and upper-class Yugoslavs. Workers were far more likely to access housing through more expensive market principles and informal construction. Broader questions stemming from this relate to more abstract notions of home, temporalities, and life trajectories upended with economic crisis in the 1980s and the end of socialism.
The way in which social historians can account for the limitations of Titoist Yugoslavia (such as social inequalities and other features of daily life in an authoritarian state) while also remaining sensitive to the many enabling elements of Yugoslavia (which are so pervasive that anthropologists rightly note that for many former Yugoslavs, the frame of a normal life is embedded in the routine memory of life in the socialist state).
Collaboration with scholars at a 2012 conference ‘Bringing class back in: The dynamics of social change in (post) Yugoslavia’ resulted in the volume Social Inequalities and Discontent in Yugoslav Socialism (2016) which I think both revisits Yugoslav social science research (which was swallowed up by the paradigm shift to ethnonationalism in the 1990s) and showcases recent scholarship in this vein.
Labour and gender history
From 2014-2018 I worked on a project ‘Between Class and Nation: Working Class Communities in 1980s Serbia and Montenegro’ with Goran Musić. The research project explored industrial centres in Serbia and Montenegro during the 1980s at a micro-level in an attempt to generate new insights on interactions between social class and ethno-nationalism and about the agency of working people in the conditions of late Yugoslav socialism. The research branched out in quite a few directions including food and nutrition, liberal impulses among blue-collar workers, the agency of textile workers and the reception of tumultuous labour movements in sites across Yugoslavia.
While working on the project we also attempted to approach Yugoslav labour history in a regional and comparative manner, convening a large conference in 2018 (‘Workers beyond Socialist Glorification and Post-Socialist Disavowal’) and a special section in the journal Labor: Studies in Working-Class History titled ‘New perspectives on East European Labor History’ in 2020.
Another offshoot of the research is a labour history of Yugoslav entanglements in the Global South (more about this to follow next year).
My current research explores the history of intra-Yugoslav Albanian migration during late-socialism. More details on the project ‘To the Northwest! Intra Yugoslav Albanian migration (1953-1989)’ can be found here.
As a side project, I have been closely following the recent phenomenon of mass Croatian migration to Ireland, the country I grew up in. This has largely passed under the radar in Irish society but in Croatia, migration to Ireland is routinely invoked as evidence of the inability of the Croatian state to provide a ‘normal life’ to its citizens.
I collaborate with labour historians of migration as one of three coordinators for the Working Group ‘Migration History’ in the European Labour History Network.
Area Studies of (S)EE and Yugoslavia in a comparative perspective
The non-aligned position of Cold War era Yugoslavia, followed by the wars of the 1990s, resulted in the state being rather marginal in the kind of Eastern European historiography influenced by the revisionist turn. Yugoslav successor states were then almost absent in the initial wave of social
anthropological scholarship of postsocialism in the 1990s and still remain fairly marginal.
Though I am absolutely guilty of being ‘Yugocentric’ in my research, I find it extremely fruitful to draw upon the work of scholars who are focused on other (post-) socialist states and collaborate with them for conference panels, publications and general intellectual exchange. In my recent work on migration, I am finding that frameworks of a post-WWII European South, Mediterranean space and post-Ottoman space are proving to be fruitful when approaching Yugoslav Albanian migration.