Jovana Škrijel, M.A.

Thema: "Migration, Storytelling and Social Imagination: Rethinking the Culture of Solidarity in Face of Humanitarian Crisis"

Brief bio

  • 2018 PhD student supervised by Prof. Kai Hafez, University of Erfurt
  • 2009-2018 Human Rights Activist, International Youth Trainer in Human Rights Education
  • 2014-2015 M.A. European Regional Master’s Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe (ERMA), Bologna University and University of Sarajevo
    Thema: Rethinking Human Rights Culture: (e)Motion Pictures in Classrooms
  • 2004-2009 B.A. Media studies – Journalism, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad
    Thema: Documentary & Social Change

PhD Thesis

The central concern of the thesis is the notion of solidarity, its inclusiveness, relativity, and manifestation in face of humanitarian crisis. Is the spirit of solidarity in the exile, or has it been saved for the exclusive circles of “us” - those with whom we share the identity ties? How can we think of cosmopolitan solidarity in highly heterogeneous societies hindered by growing divisions of far-right politics? Remembering that solidarity is not morally good per se – but only to the extent of its inclusiveness and implications for those in need – the particular concern of the project are the conditions under which solidarity can reach its universal, cosmopolitan dimension and the means that could be employed towards development of culture in which no human being can be rendered as illegal and left outside of the circle of reciprocity, compassion, and protection.

In the surge of public discourses where refugees are rendered as threat and illegals and solidarity tied to numbers and figures and responsibility of the states, little space has been left in which those who are stripped of their basic rights can be perceived as fellow humans. Even less to the space in which solidarity can be connoted with compassion, critical cognition, mutual responsibility and a common struggle for the rights of those whose severe suffering keeps on constituting the reality beyond the rhetoric.

Both the history and great body of research have proven how devastating, dehumanizing and influential far-right rhetoric can be on overall societal attitudes, which in turn can have a bearing on behavior towards refugees. We have as well seen how proliferation of tragic stories of their lives when given without a critical context, agency and ethical dimension does little for the actual altruistic action, but rather gives birth to society of comfortably numbed “spectators” or “silent witnesses” – whose reality unfolds far away from one of the most concerning issues of today’s Europe; be it because of indifference or overwhelming feeling of helplessness when confronted with such a massive injustice and suffering.

But not once throughout the history stories have been able to take societies across the class, cultural, ethnic or religious divide, flaring up the ongoing considerations of how we exist in relation to one another and creating the momentum in which the idea of solidarity can be translated to tangible reality. Building upon this thought, this research aims to explore the pragmatic dimension of solidarity, materialized in the altruistic responses of the members of European societies to the ever greater influx of refugees. It will explore the conditions under which storytelling can bring behavior towards the refugees into the realm of altruistic action and find out which steps could be taken to fulfill the utopian vision of cosmopolitan solidarity.