Professor of Politics Mila Dragojević

Professor of Politics
B.A., Wilson College; M.B.A., University of New Hampshire; M.A., Northeastern University; M.A, Ph.D., Brown University

midragoj@sewanee.edu

Mila Dragojević is Professor of Politics at the University of the South. Since 2010 at Sewanee, Prof. Dragojević has taught nine thematic and area studies courses, including courses on European and Latin American politics, international and global studies seminar, multiculturalism and equality, immigration, identity, and politics, ethnicity and political violence, peace and diplomacy, and civil wars.

In her research, she addresses the questions of whether, and how, cultural components of social identities, such as ethnicity, race, language, or religion, may become linked with conflict or political violence. In her most recent book, Amoral Communities: Collective Crimes in Time of War (Cornell University Press 2019), she examined conditions conducive to wartime violence against civilians. The book’s Croatian translation was published in 2020 with the Zagreb-based academic publisher Srednja Europa. This research project represented an attempt to understand how it was possible for a peaceful community to transform itself, temporarily, into a violent place where a human life was valued less than a person’s identity. The book was based on in-depth interviews conducted in Croatia, Uganda, and Guatemala, three countries with vastly different histories and cultures, but with comparable wartime patterns of violence. She showed how amoral communities – or places where wartime violence against civilians was both tolerated and justified by the respective authorities – were created when the complementary processes of the exclusion of moderates and the production of borders connected a cultural identity, such as ethnicity, with a political goal.

In her previous book, The Politics of Social Ties: Immigrants in an Ethnic Homeland (Ashgate 2014/ Routledge 2016), as well as in several articles, she examined the processes of the formation of new social identities defined by migration that took place during the wars in the 1990s on the territory of former Yugoslavia. In this body of research, she was interested in understanding how former refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who predominantly identified as ethnic Serbs, incorporated socially, economically, and politically in Serbia. In the book, she focused particularly on the question of why most of the former refugees in Serbia supported the far-right nationalist political options. Based on the original mass survey and in-depth interviews, as well as a yearlong fieldwork in Serbia, she concluded that one of the critical factors was the degree of social incorporation that individuals attained.

Currently, she is working on a new book project tentatively entitled The Croatian Spring: Breaking the Authoritarian Rule from Within. Among the questions she will examine will be how movements capable of undermining authoritarian rule develop by studying the context of an attempted liberalization movement in Croatia in the late 1960s that was initiated by the progressive leaders of the ruling party. The movement culminated in the early 1970s and it was ultimately suppressed in 1972 by President Josip Broz Tito who had been initially in favor of the reforms. Many unanswered questions remain. One in particular – how to create societies where conflict could be resolved without resorting to violence – inspired her to study this case. This case also challenges one of the hypotheses in the political regime literature that political order is essential for political stability.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS:

Amoral Communities: Collective Crimes in Time of War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019.

Croatian translation: Identiteti u ratu: Civilne žrtve u komparativnoj perspektivi, Zagreb: Srednja Europa, 2020.

The Politics of Social Ties: Immigrants in an Ethnic Homeland, New York: Ashgate/Routledge 2014/2016.

With Tamara Banjeglav, “Laying Foundations for Democratic Regimes Through Memorialisation Practices,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2021.

With Vjeran Pavlaković, “Local Memories of Wartime Violence: Commemorating World War Two in Gospić,” Suvremene teme [Contemporary Issues], Vol. 8, No. 1: 66-87, January 2017.

“Violence and the Production of Borders in Western Slavonia,” Slavic Review, Vol. 75, No. 2: 422-455, Summer 2016.

“Incorporation Beyond Identity: Co-ethnic Immigrants in Serbia,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 36, no.12: 2096-2116, December 2013.

“Memory and Identity: Inter-generational Narratives of Violence among Refugees in Serbia,” Nationalities Papers, Vol. 41, no.6: 1065-1082, December 2013.

“Contesting Ethnicity: Emerging Regional Identity in Vojvodina,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Vol. 8. No. 2: 290-316, September 2008.

“Competing Institutions in National Identity Construction: The Croatian Case,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 11: 61-87, Spring 2005.

Image of MilaDragojević by Oana Lauric