Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology, University of Goettingen, Germany

Email: carna.brkovic[at]uni-goettingen.de

Office: Room 1.634, Heinrich Düker Weg 14, 37073 Goettingen, Germany



I am a Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at the University of Goettingen. Previously, I held postdoctoral fellowships at the CEU IAS, NEC IAS, and GSOSES.

I hold a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester. My research has been published in Anthropological Theory, Social Anthropology, and Ethnos, among other journals.

I have published two books: an ethnographic monograph Managing Ambiguity (2017, Berghahn) and an edited volume Negotiating Social Relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2016, Routledge, with Stef Jansen and Vanja Celebicic).

I am a co-convener of EASA’s Anthropology of Humanitarianism Network and a member of the editorial board of PoLAR.


My work combines a focus on inequalities and power with a focus on social complexity and ambiguity. I am particularly interested in developing concepts that help us to understand how people pursue their projects of good life and freedom within complex, coercive, and ambivalent social environments in southeastern Europe, ethnographically focusing on three dimensions.

I explore how people help one another – in what way, on what grounds, and to what socio-political effect. I am particularly interested in the intersections between social justice and humanitarianism, as well as in links between solidarity, morality, and publics. I have published extensively on the grassroots, small-scale, vernacular forms of humanitarianism in former Yugoslav countries.

I also research how ambiguity becomes productive of certain forms of power, especially when it is entangled with the new policies about national and European citizenship, and with clientelist practices.

Finally, I trace epistemological possibilities, differences, and similarities that have opened up in knowledge production on the Balkans in Eastern European ethnologies and Anglo-Saxon anthropologies.


In my work, (South) Eastern Europe figures as a region that poses unexpected theoretical challenges to conventional directions of anthropological analysis. I am deeply critical of hegemonic visions of the region as a poor copyist of theory produced elsewhere – in the former colonial centres, or peripheries. To counteract such visions, I strive to test and develop new concepts that reflect the ethnographic realities of the region but also help understand socio-political entanglements throughout the globe.




Research Interests:

  • 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