Portraitfoto Ivan Rajkovic

Ivan Rajkovic, PhD


Contact Details

Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Vienna
NIG, 4th floor
Room: C 0422

T: +43-1-4277-49561
E-Mail: ivan.rajkovic@univie.ac.at

Member of the research group CaSt: 

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Research Focus Areas

  • labour and welfare
  • moral economy
  • political ecology
  • social movements
  • energy transition
  • debt and gift
  • Serbia, Yugoslavia, the Balkans

Short Biography

Ivan Rajković started his career with a PhD dissertation in social anthropology at the University of Manchester (2015). Before arriving to the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna in 2019, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, University College London (2015-2017) and a Research Fellow in Eurasia group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (2017-2019).

Rajković’s first research has explored the transformations of the ‘social question’ after Yugoslavia, and moralisations of labour and market in Europe’s peripheries. Focusing on the aftermath of a Yugoslav ‘giant’ - the ‘Zastava’ car plant in Kragujevac, Serbia – he described workers’ struggles to fashion a deserving position in prolonged factory slowdown, and the ambiguous value of what he calls ‘mock-labour’. The result are grassroots yearnings for ‘proper capitalism' as a promise of social legitimacy and moral redemption. Rajković is currently finishing a book manuscript titled 'The Gift of Work: Indebting the Social in a Post-Yugoslav Factory'.

Rajković’s new postdoc project at the University of Vienna explores the shift from work to ‘nature’ as the basis of new political alliances in the Balkans. This research focuses on the pan-regional development of small hydro-power-plants – a technology free of carbon emissions, but based on piping rivers and streams, with devastating socio-environmental footprint. In the popular imagination, such developments are seen as overstepping the limits of commodification and political agonism, and endangering the reproduction of ‘life’ itself. Focusing on the ageing regions in the Balkan Mountains in Southeast Serbia, West Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, where such processes are compounded by rapid depopulation and fervent pensioner-cum-environmentalist insurgencies, this project will look at care for nature, intergenerational relations, and competing notions of commons that are arise from ‘green grabs’. The study is imagined as a building block for thinking about wider contemporary ‘eco-populisms’ - alliances that disparate groups create under the banner of ‘life itself’ – as well as new forms of expanded kinship and eco-authority making and breaking postsocialist states today.

Selected Publications

Book project
  • (in progress) The Gift of Work: Indebting the Social in a Post-Yugoslav Factory. Book manuscript in preparation.
Edited collection
Journal articles (peer-reviewed)
Book chapters
  • 2022. 'Emerging varieties of work', in Carrier, James (ed.) Handbook of Economic Anthropology, third edition, Edward Elgar Publishing. (Invited chapter on digital, precarious, flexible and redisitributive work.)
  • 2021. 'FIAT Automobiles Serbia: the split moral economy of public-private partnerships', in Yalçın-Heckmann, Lale (ed.) Moral Economy at Work: Ethnographic Investigations in Eurasia, 135-155. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books. 
  • 2021. 'From freedom to loaf to freedom to work: the late socialist countermovement and liberalization from below in Yugoslavia', in Hann, Chris (ed.) Work, Society, and the Ethical Self: Chimeras of Freedom in the Neoliberal Era, 158-181. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books. 
  • 2020. 'Duh Pruge: sloboda, dar i rad na Omladinskoj pruzi E.P. Thompsona', in Petrović, T. & A. Matošević (eds.) Duh Pruge: zbornik radova o knjizi E.P. Thompsona (a volume on E.P. Thompson and British volunteers at the Yugoslav shock work actions), Fabrika knjiga, Beograd.
  • 2017. 'From familial to familiar: corruption, political intimacy and the reshaping of relatedness in Serbia'. In Thelen, T. and E. Alber (Eds.) Reconnecting State and Kinship, 130-154. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press.
  • 2016. 'Staying and making it in regional creative cities - visual arts graduates and infrastructures for professional development [in Manchester]'. In Comunian, R. and A. Gilmore (Eds.) Higher education and the creative economy: beyond the campus, 184–200. Abingdon: Routledge. (Co-authored with Abigail Gilmore and David Gledhill)
Editor-reviewed pieces

Student Supervision

  • Anna Nindl (completed)
  • Mersed Mujkanović (completed)
  • Lauren Wagner
  • Jelena Mihajlović Ignjatović
  • Jee Hyun-Elizabet Son