Dr. Čarna Brković


Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies
Universität Regensburg
Landshuter Str. 4
D-93047 Regensburg
Tel.: +49 (0)941/943-5427

ORCID: 0000-0002-4569-6342


Between Compassion and Social Justice: Humanitarianism in Montenegro during and after the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)

Project description

This research project explores the relationship between humanitarianism and social justice as two forms of responding to wrongdoing and human suffering, using Montenegro as a case study. More specifically, it looks into the humanitarian activities of the Montenegrin Red Cross during the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). It also focuses on its contemporary programmes, especially the Red Cross management of a camp for displaced persons on the outskirts of Podgorica. Commonly described as ‘the largest refugee camp in the Balkans’ and informally called the ‘Shanty Town’, the camp provides housing for people who mostly identify as Roma, Ashkali, or Balkan Egyptians, the majority of whom fled from violence in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, or from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia during the 1991-1995 Yugoslav wars.

The research aims to offer an ethnographic and historical account of framing responsibility for others’ survival and wellbeing, by focusing on the following questions:

  • What does ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘being a humanitarian’ mean in contemporary Montenegro? How were these terms understood and enacted in Montenegro during the SFRY? What humanitarian patterns, opportunities, and oppressions have emerged in this context?
  • Is there a clear boundary between the legal notion of ‘citizenship rights’ and the humanitarian focus on ‘care’ and ‘compassion’ in the work of the Montenegrin Red Cross, the state and supra-state institutions? If so, how is this boundary established and negotiated in everyday life? Was a boundary between the legal notion of ‘citizenship rights’ and the humanitarian focus on ‘care’ and ‘compassion’ drawn during the SFRY and, if so, in what way?
  • What is the relationship between the socio-legal categories of ‘refugee’, ‘internally displaced person’ and ‘displaced person’ in relationship to the camp? In what ways have camp residents attempted to leave the legal borderland they inhabited for several years and to become officially recognized as legitimate political subjects?


Curriculum Vitae

05/2015 - 04/2018

Postdoctoral Researcher at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies & Lecturer, University of Regensburg

2014 - 2015

Postdoc, Institute for Advanced Studies, New Europe College (IAS NEC)

2013 - 2014

Postdoc, Institute for Advanced Study, Central European University (CEU IAS)

2008 - 2012

PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

2010 - 2012

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

2007 - 2009

Junior Researcher, historical-anthropological project, PI Ulf Brunnbauer and Hannes Grandits, Free University Berlin and University of Graz: New and Ambiguous Nation-building processes in South-Eastern Europe


Research Awards and Grants


Biennial Young Scholar Prize for the best paper, International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF)


Visiting Fellowship, University of Graz, Scholarship of the Republic of Austria


CEELBAS Research Internship, ethnographic research on Montenegrin-Albanian border


Wenner Gren workshop and conference grant for organising a workshop Anthropology Otherwise: Rethinking Approaches to Fieldwork in Different Anthropological Traditions


Visiting Researcher, Summer Research University Srebrenica-Potočari, BiH


Visiting Researcher, Free University Berlin, DAAD Research Grants scholarship


Service to the profession

Article peer reviewer for American Anthropologist, Anthropological Forum, Contemporary Southeastern Europe, History and Anthropology, Sociological Review, Südosteuropa, Palgrave Macmillan

Co-editor of Anthropology Matters, peer-reviewed, open-access journal in social anthropology for early career scholars and PhD students, supported by the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA)

Editorial Internat HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, February-July 2012

Director of a micro publishing house Aquamarine Press, Montenegro, specialising in ethnographies and science fiction



Peer-reviewed Articles


Brković, Čarna. ‘Management of Ambiguity. Favours and Flexibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina.’ Social Anthropology 23(3): 268–282.


Brković, Čarna & Andrew Hodges. ‘Rethinking World Anthropologies Through Fieldwork. Perspectives on “Extended Stay” and “Back and Forth” Methodologies.’ Anthropological Notebooks 21(1): 107–120.


Brković, Čarna. ‘Scaling Humanitarianism: Humanitarne Akcije in a Bosnian Town.’ Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 1–26. DOI 10.1080/00141844.2014.912246.


Brković, Čarna. ‘Surviving in a Moveopticon: Humanitarian Actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.’ Contemporary Southeastern Europe 1(2): 42–60.


Brković, Čarna. ‘Floating Signifiers: Negotiations of the National on the Internet forum Café del Montenegro.’ Südosteuropa 57(1): 55–69.

Book Chapters


Brković, Čarna. ‘Brokering the Grey Zones: Pursuits of Favours in a Bosnian Town.’ In Ethnographies of Grey Zones in Eastern Europe, pp. 57–72. Edited by Harboe, Ida and Martin Demant Frederiksen. London: Anthem Press.


Brković, Čarna. ‘The Quest for Legitimacy: Discussing Language and Sexuality in Montenegro.’ In Mirroring Europe. Ideas of Europe and Europeanization in Balkan Societies, pp. 161–185. Edited by Tanja Petrović. Leiden: Brill.


Brković, Čarna. ‘Ambiguous Notions of “National Self” in Montenegro.’ In The Ambiguous Nation. Case Studies from Southeastern Europe in the 20th Century, pp. 131–149. Edited by Brunnbauer, Ulf and Hannes Grandits. München: Oldenbourg Verlag.


Invited Lectures


‘Ethnographies of the Balkans at the turn of the 20th century’, New Europe College, Institute for Advanced Study, Bucharest, Romania


‘Queering Montenegro: Challenging Homophobia in Montenegro,’ Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality, Netherlands


‘Favours and Flexibility: Rethinking Informality and Care in post-Yugoslav Contexts,’ Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz, Austria


‘“Fixing Relations”: Rethinking Favours (veze/štele) as Political Practice in BiH,’ CEU Institute for Advanced Study, Hungary


‘You Never Know when you might Need Someone: Biological Citizenship in a Border Town in BiH,’ London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK


‘Women Solidarity and Negotiations with the State: Social Care on the Bosnian-Serbian Border,’ Belgrade Centre for Women and Gender Studies, Serbia


‘Where is the Border?’ Petnica International Summer School, Petnica Science Centre

Dr. Čarna Brković