Vesna Kesic is currently working as a Research Coordinator
at the Center for Women War Victims - Rosa where she does
her field work on the women's memory on resistance to wars
and nationalisms in the countries of former Yugoslavia.
At the same time she is working on the research project
"Political Transformation Processes in the Former Yugoslavia
from the Gender Perspective," together with Dr. Doris
Goedl from Austria. Research is funded by Der Wissenschaftsfonds
zur Foerderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung. Kesic has
also been giving lectures and workshop at the Center for
Peace Studies and the Center for Women Studies in Zagreb.
Vesna Kesic has graduated at the University of Zagreb in
Psychology (major) and sociology (minor). She received her
MA degree at the New School University with the thesis subject
The Status of Rape as a War Crime in International Law:
Changes Introduced After the Wars in the Former Yugoslavia
and Rwanda. Her main research interest is in intersection
between gender and ethinc identities, its impact on the
war violence against women, the effects on women of the
transition processes, locally and globally, and in the gender
dimension of public memory - the politics of memory.
Vesna Kesic has been an peace and feminist activist since
the beginning of disintegration and wars in former Yugoslavia.
Before that, she was a professional journalist and editor
in various Croatian and other Yugoslav newspapers and magazines.
She is a founder and co-founder of several major Croatian
NGOs, including The Center for Women War Victims, Women's
Human Rights Group B.a.B.e. (Be active, Be emancipated),
Women's Network of Croatia, Alternative Informative Network,
etc. Among other activities, Vesna Kesic is or was a member
of the Board of Directors of Network of East-West Women,
1998 - 2003.
Media Council of the Croatian Helsinki Committee
Governmental Council for the Development of Civil Society,
Republic of Croatia
National Working Group on Mechanisms and Planned Actions
for CEDAW Implementations in the countries of Croatia, Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia (within
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Croatia)
Appointed (external) member of the Croatian Parliamentary
Committee for Human Rights (as the representative of the
She received following awards, honors and scholarships:
- US /EU 1998 Award for Democratization and Building Civil
Society in Croatia, given to Women's Human Rights organization
B.a.B.e. where Kesic was a director at that time
- "100 Heroines of the World" for furthering
the cause of women's human rights, freedom, health, and
equal opportunities, Rochester, New York, 1998
- Deans Fellowship, Graduate Faculty The New School University,
New York, 1998
- MacArthur Research and Writing Grant, Program on Global
Security and Sustainability for the project "Sexism
and War", Chicago, 1998
"Establishing Rape as a War Crime" in Transforming
A Rape Culture, Eds: Martha Roth at all (forthcoming
"Women Recollecting Memories/ene obnavljaju
sjecanja." Edited with Vesna Jankovic and Biljana Bijelic.
Articles: Foreword; Women are Victims of War, but Women
also Know 1.000 Ways to Survive; Goga M's Story; 1993, Goga
M's Second Story, 2003. CWWV, Zagreb, 2003.
"Muslim Women, Croatian Women, Serbian Women, Albanian
", Balkan as Metaphor. Eds.: Bjelic,
Duan and Savic, Obrad, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England. 2003.
"Gender and Ethnic Identities in Transition,"
From Gender to Nation. Eds.: Rada Ivekovic and Julie
Mertus. Ravenna: Longo Editore, 2002.
The Gender Dimension of Transition, Conflict and
Reconciliation: Women Recollecting & Reconstructing
Research on the Gender Dimension of Transition, Conflict,
and Reconciliation: Women Recollecting & Reconstructing
Memories starts from the hypothesis that the nature
of the preoccupation with the past and its remembrance ("the
politics of remembering and forgetting") is determinative
for gender equality and democratic development of transitional,
particularly postwar societies. If a large part of the past
is repressed and detached from the collective/public memory,
this can result in restoring the "old balance of power"
in which the gender dimension of that power plays a major
role. Women and their efforts toward justice, development
of civil society, peace and reconciliation have been excluded
from the public memory not only in transitional and underdeveloped
countries, but also in Western democracies. The extent to
which this can influence the political situation and endanger
democratic development is shown by some election results
in former Communist countries, such as Romania, Serbia,
and quite recently Croatia.
As my prospective host during the international research
visit, the director of the Transregional Center for Democratic
Studies, Prof. Elzbieta Matynia stated in her forthcoming
program Feminism in Global Perspective: at the beginning
of the new century women found themselves shaped by forces
that are simultaneously national and global, potentially
liberating and in practice often repressive. In an effort
to explain why this should be so, we need to analyze how
women figure in nationalist projects, and to look at the
continuing trends toward globalization, a supra-territorial
system of institutions with a variety of gender implications.
My research starts from the impact of "gendered memories"
on the status of women in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
Through the proposed activities of the NCS program, the
research should be further "globalized" by studying
the impact of the gendered dimension of public memory on
women in transitional countries and societies internationally.
Transition is, of course, a broad term and relates to politically
and culturally different processes. Nevertheless, the processes
and consequences of various social, political and economic
transitions, particularly those that incited violence, are
not equal for men and women. International and interdisciplinary
exchange of research will provide comprehensive insight
into some basic obstacles that are impeding equality of
women globally, despite all the achievements of the international
women's human rights movement in the last 50 years ( UDHR,
CEDAW, EU Convention on Human Rights and other international
and national instruments). Broadened by a wider international
dimension, the project should contribute to the better understanding
and development of strategies for empowerment of women globally.
Strategies to achieve equality between men and women in
the globalized world should include the proper range of
women's human rights and the principle of gender mainstreaming
in national and international institutions and mechanisms.