Dr. Ana Miškovska Kajevska for her dissertation “Taking a stand in times of violent societal changes: Belgrade and Zagreb feminists’ positionings on the (post-) Yugoslav wars and each other (1991–2000)”.
Ana Miškovska Kajevska is a freelance researcher, translator and activist. She holds a PhD degree in Social Sciences and a MSc degree (cum laude) in Sociology and Gender Studies from the University of Amsterdam. She has also finished the programmes in Women’s Studies and Peace Studies at the Zagreb-based Centre for Women’s Studies and Centre for Peace Studies, respectively, and has an extensive activist experience in inter alia human rights and environmental protection. In addition to her interest in the (post-)Yugoslav wars and sustainable postwar recovery and reconciliation, she is committed to the critical examination of the established (scholarly) classifications and ideas, especially those regarding gender and sexuality.
The dissertation explores the positionings (discourses and activities) of the Belgrade and Zagreb feminists vis-à-vis the (post-)Yugoslav wars and one another between 1991 and 2000. Primarily applying a Bourdieuian framework and based on a comprehensive literature review, extensive semi-structured qualitative interviews, and a thorough examination of organisational documents and printed media articles, this socio-historical analysis attends to a number of biases, lacunae and incorrect or insufficiently precise (recurring) information in the scholarship. Thereby, The thesis enriches the existing knowledge on the war-related feminist activism in Belgrade and Zagreb in the 1990s, and raises pressing epistemological questions about this knowledge.
In short, the dissertation challenges the common suggestion that the outbreak of the war violence in 1991 led to the same reorganisation of the Belgrade and Zagreb feminist fields: The activists in each city, who had up until then worked together without tensions, divided into antinationalists and nationalists and began clashing with each other because of the different war-related positionings. The thesis shows that there were significant differences between Belgrade and Zagreb in the contents of those positionings and in the intra-feminist dynamics, due to which these two cities should not be considered interchangeable locations. Furthermore, the dissertation demonstrates that the designations ‘antinationalist’ and ‘nationalist’ were not completely value-free, objective descriptions. They were instead an essential part of the local and international efforts to stop the (sexual) war violence, and of the struggle for legitimacy among the feminists in each city – endeavours in which many Western (feminist) academics, activists, and funders were involved, too.
Laudation by Dr. Mieke Verloo (Radboud University):
"At the heart of much of our work in the Gender and Politics community is studying what happens to feminism as a political project for changing gender inequality.
We are very happy that this year’s PhD Prize goes to a young scholar who addressed this last question head on; who dared to ask the difficult question: what happens to feminism under conditions of war, under conditions were several political projects clash bloodily? Does feminism get crushed in all this violence? What happens exactly? What are the stories told about this? And are they true?
Research done on such big questions is very demanding for a researcher. One needs courage and stamina, dedication and skills and patience. Ana Miškovska Kajevska has shown all this and more in her splendid analysis of “Belgrade and Zagreb feminists’ positionings on the (post) Yugoslav wars and each other” for the period 1991 till 2000.
She impressed the jury with her careful debunking of the “truth about Yugoslavian feminism”, incorporating the best traditions of political history research in her work.
We congratulate Ana Miškovska Kajevska for engaging with one of our most difficult undertakings: to study the movements carrying our joint gender equality projects and analyse how they can get lost in internal competitions for legitimacy, for political space. To show how feminism does not escape overall politics, never, but at times can deal with this and survive.
Ana Miškovska Kajevska is really exploring new grounds in this dissertation. Studying a part of Europe that is too often seen as lagging behind, she shows how we can all learn from it to better understand our common feminist struggles.
The European Gender and Politics Community is a large community with many, many dedicated and talented researchers. This year again, the nominations for the Prize were of very high quality. Yet, only one can win.
Ana Miškovska Kajevska, on behalf of all of us, please accept and enjoy your well deserved PhD Prize!"