Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies

Breadcrumb Navigation

Brković, Čarna

PD Dr. Čarna Brković

Former Postdoc


Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Institut für Kulturanthropologie/ Europäische Ethnologie
Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14
37073 Göttingen

Website: Webprofile (Uni Göttingen)
Website: Private Website

Main Research Areas

  • anthropology of humanitarianism, borders, refugee camps
  • clientelism, favors, the gift
  • nationalism, the state, policy
  • gender and sexuality
  • activism, engagement, citizenship
  • histories of ethnology and anthropology
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Europe

Research Project

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

Postdoc-Project at the Graduate School

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

Since 2018 Lecturer at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology of the University of Goettingen. 2015-2018 Postdoctoral Fellow of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies and Lecturer at the Universität Regensburg. 2014-2015 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, New Europe College, Bucharest (Romania). 2013-2014 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study of the Central European University (CEU) Budapest (Hungary). 2012 Ph.D. degree in Social Anthropology awarded by the University of Manchester (United Kingdom) for her dissertation thesis "Navigating Rules and Wills: Healthcare and Social Protection in a Bosnian Border Town". 2007 Graduate Degree in Ethnology and Anthropology from the University of Belgrade (Serbia).


  • 2015 Biennial Young Scholar Prize for the best paper, International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF)
  • 2014 Visiting Fellowship, University of Graz, Scholarship of the Republic of Austria
  • 2012 CEELBAS Research Internship, ethnographic research on Montenegrin-Albanian border
  • 2011 Wenner Gren workshop and conference grant for organising a workshop Anthropology Otherwise: Rethinking Approaches to Fieldwork in Different Anthropological Traditions
  • 2010 Visiting Researcher, Summer Research University Srebrenica-Potočari, BiH
  • 2008 Visiting Researcher, Free University Berlin, DAAD Research Grants scholarship

Positions, Assignments and Memberships



Managing Ambiguity. How Clientelism, Citizenship, and Power Shape Personhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina, New York / Oxford 2017.

Edited Books and Journal Issues

With Vanja Čelebičić / Stef Jansen (eds.): Negotiating Social Relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Semiperipheral Entanglements, New York 2016.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Zus. mit Stef Jansen: ‘A Lively Border’. In: David W. Montgomery (Hg.): Everyday Life in the Balkans, Bloomington 2018.

Zus. mit Karla Kutkova : Štela (Bosnia and Herzegovina). In: Alena Ledeneva (Hg.): The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality. Volume 1, London 2019, S. 54-58.

Epistemological eclecticism: Difference and the 'Other' in the Balkans and beyond. In: Anthropological Theory, November 2017. URL:

Forum. Brexit Referendum – first reactions from anthropology. In: Social Anthropology / Anthropologie Sociale 24 (4), 2016, S. 478-502.

Depoliticization "from Below": Everyday Humanitarianism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In: Narodna umjetnost 53 (1), 2016, S. 97-115.

Management of Ambiguity. Favours and Flexibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In: Social Anthropology 23 (3), 2015, S. 268-282.

With Andrew Hodges: Rethinking World Anthropologies Through Fieldwork. Perspectives on "Extended Stay" and "Back and Forth" Methodologies. In: Anthropological Notebooks 21 (1), 2015, S. 107-120.

Scaling Humanitarianism: "Humanitarne Akcije" in a Bosnian Town. In: Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 2014, S. 1-26.

Surviving in a Moveopticon: Humanitarian Actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In: Contemporary Southeastern Europe 1 (2), 2014, S. 42-60.

Floating Signifiers: Negotiations of the National on the Internet forum Café del Montenegro. In: Südosteuropa 57 (1), 2009, S. 55-69.

With Danijel Kalezić: Queering as Europeanization, Europeanization as Queering. In: Bojan Bilić (Hg.): LGBT Activism and Europeanisation in the Post-Yugoslav Space, Basingstoke 2016, S. 155-177.

Brokering the Grey Zones: Pursuits of Favours in a Bosnian Town. In: Ida Harboe Knudsen / Martin Demant Frederiksen (Hgg.): Ethnographies of Grey Zones in Eastern Europe, London 2015, S. 57-72.

The Quest for Legitimacy: Discussing Language and Sexuality in Montenegro. In: Tanja Petrović (Hg.): Mirroring Europe. Ideas of Europe and Europeanization in Balkan Societies, Leiden 2014, S. 161-185.

Ambiguous Notions of "National Self" in Montenegro. In: Ulf Brunnbauer / Hannes Grandits (Hgg.): The Ambiguous Nation. Case Studies from Southeastern Europe in the 20th Century, München 2013, S. 131-149.

Further Publications

Emergent Humanitarian Forms of Life. Anthropology of Humanitarianism Between New Vocabulary and Critique. In: Public Anthropologist, 9. Oktober 2018. URL:

The Same, and Yet Different. Ethno-Anthropological Traditions in Europe. In: American Anthropologist, 22. Mai 2018. URL:

#Humanitarianism tomorrow? Humanitarian actions in former Yugoslavia [Thematic Thread]. In: Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World, 28.09.2017. URL:

Presentations (selected)


"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).

Further Information