About me

I have a deep fascination with how humans, as individuals and societies, acquire, organize, classify, and process knowledge – both about their surroundings and about themselves. I believe these questions are essential to understanding who we are, as well as what we (can) do.

Since these outcomes can be both good and bad – given knowledge is inherently neither – most of my work deals with how specific practices of knowledge production and configurations of power lead to specific outcomes for different individuals and groups, and how we can ensure this happens in the least oppressive way possible. This means I harbour a particular dislike for inequality and injustice, especially in ways enabled/made possible in and through systems and institutions of knowledge production, including universities.

I did a PhD in social anthropology and then, some years later, went on to do one in sociology. I have held permanent and visiting positions in departments of education, politics and public policy, media and communications, anthropology, and sociology, as well as in politics, policy, and consultancy related to  international development.

Curently, I am a research associate at the Faculty of Education’s Culture, politics and global justice research cluster, as well as associate researcher at Centre for Global Knowledge Studies, both at the University of Cambridge. I am also a member of the Cambridge Social Ontology Group. 

Prior to coming to Cambridge, I was a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Education of the University of Aarhus in Copenhagen (Denmark), Lecturer (visiting professor) at the Central European University in Budapest (Hungary), and assistant professor at Singidunum University in Belgrade (Serbia). I have also held visiting positions at the University of Bristol (UK), University of Auckland (New Zealand), and the Open Society Archives (Budapest).

My main interests and areas of expertise are:

[1] Social theory, epistemology and methodology – I am interested in social theory as a meta-language for making sense of social reality; this also means I am interested in how claims in this language are formulated and regulated. This particularly pertains to frameworks or ‘schools of thought’ that seek to develop an understanding of social processes that has implications for politics and practice (commonly known as ‘critical’), including Marxism, Critical Theory, feminism, critical realism, and Bourdieu’s theory of practice.

My work in the domain of theory primarily consists of the clarification of meaning, use, and ontological status of concepts (sometimes referred to as social ontology), in particular those that exist on the boundaries between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ (such as the concept of critique). This ties in with a long-standing interest in the history and philosophy of science, and the relationship between reality and the knowledge claims we (can) make about it, which led me to…

[2] Sociology of knowledge, as the study of the relationship between social processes and knowledge; as well as the related fields of sociology of education, as the study of systems, ideologies and practices of knowledge production and distribution, and sociology of intellectuals, as the particular study of those who produce knowledge.

My doctoral research dealt with the relationship between neoliberalism – understood both as ideology and a set of particular policy measures – and ways in which academics as knowledge producers understand, interpret, and criticise these processes. Prior to this, my research has focused on the links between (post)socialism and processes of knowledge production, including the transformation of class and other forms of political subjectivity in and through education policies [1, 2, 3]. In all of these cases, I looked at how particular structures – relatively stable relations between objects, political discourses and forms of governance – interact with human agency, that is, come to mobilise particular forms of reflexivity and political subjectivity in contexts of social change.

[3] This relates to politics – more precisely, political sociology and political philosophy. My 2014 monograph, From Class to Identity: Politics of Education Reforms in Former Yugoslavia is an historical and sociological analysis of how political processes, including education reforms, interact with broader social transformation including regime change, war, and in the process frame and re-shape the subject(s) of politics. In my current research, I deal with the intersection between sociology of knowledge and political economy – what could be classified as political economy of knowledge production – that focuses on the social and political processes that influence how knowledge is created, valued and exchanged. This includes the relationship between policies and mechanisms of funding and measuring the production of knowledge (such as impact, REF and TEF) and the social and political role of universities, as well as broader issues of public access to, and use of, information – open access, intellectual property, and ‘Big Data’.

My recent work in this domain includes an analysis of the moral economy and political ontology of Open Access (with Chris Muellerleile, in European Journal of Social Theory); the application of assemblage theory to universities through the study of territorialisation, deterritorialisation, and boundary practices (Globalisalisation, Education, Societies); and forms of political agency in the neoliberal university (Idea of the University: Contemporary Perspectives). I have also written on student movements, the implications of supranational governance and shifting boundaries of nation-states for universities in Europe.

[4] Last, but not least, I have a lasting interest in human relationships and the social framing of relationality. My first PhD was on the concept of ‘romantic relationship’ in a post-socialist environment. This has extended to relational sociology and relational ontology.