Ognjen Kojanic

AnthropologyUniversity of Pittsburgh

Award Information

2017 IDRF Program

AnthropologyUniversity of Pittsburgh

Ownership vs. Property Rights in a Worker-Owned Company in Post-Socialist Croatia

Ognjen Kojanic, under the supervision of Dr. Robert M. Hayden of the University of Pittsburgh, proposes to study the successful example of resistance to privatization of a worker-owned company in Croatia, ITAS. Drawing on economic and political anthropology, this project will focus on worker-ownership in the post-socialist, industrial context of ITAS in order to study the interface of economic ideologies, political mobilization, juridical practices, and state-imposed procedures in neoliberalism. ITAS is a unique case in Croatia, where most companies have been privatized after the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia. After years of strikes, factory occupations, and trials, the workers of ITAS are now recognized as the sole owners of their company and they are developing a model that would convert their company to a closed corporation or a cooperative. My overall goal is to investigate whether there exists among the workers of ITAS an idea and practice of ownership that is different from the idea and practice of property that has characterized the post-socialist transformation in Croatia and elsewhere. Ownership is conceived here as a claim based on possession and use of resources in the form of a circumscribed bundle of inseparable rights, overlapping in part with the rights generally seen as constituting property, but also limiting them. The research has three objectives: to analyze the history of the transformation of property and ownership in Croatia and in ITAS, to examine the claims to ownership in ITAS, and to examine political alliances formed around worker-ownership. Data related to privatization in Croatia, institutional and individual perspectives on the case of ITAS, practices related to the survival of the company, its problems and frictions, as well as the broader significance of the case in Croatia will be obtained over the course of 12 months through semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and archival research.