Bojan Bilic

Volkswagen NewDem Fellow
Political Science
Project Title: 
Crossing epistemic boundaries: Exchanges and tensions between activist and academic knowledge in the (post-)Yugoslav context
Project Abstract: 

In this project, I would build upon my doctoral research on the episodes of anti-war contention in the Yugoslav space and draw upon interviews and documentary analysis to explore the tension between the "official" sources of scholarship (universities and institutes) and the professionalized non-governmental organizations which have been turned into research/educational centers. I would argue that in the volatile social climate characterized by transition and armed conflicts, some "civil society" organizations have departed from their activist origin to become epistemic communities whose knowledge production is often questioned and marginalized by the still highly hierarchical academic institutions. I would follow the divergent developmental trajectories of the two Women Studies Centers – in Belgrade and Zagreb – to map some of the processes through which activist knowledge is generated, contested and capitalized upon to either enable or resist entrance into the official structures of knowledge production. I would examine the mechanisms which employ the activist engagement – as a collective enterprise aiming to produce social change – to (de-)legitimize state institutions and strengthen or undermine political paradigms that are the sources of social inequality and conflict. In other words, I would explore the dynamics of the complex academic-activist linkage and the implications that such a symbiosis might have for the nature of activist undertakings.

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