Elissa Helms

Associate Professor

Contact information

Vienna, Quellenstrasse 51
D 205/a
+43 1 25230 ext. 7111

Research Areas:

Gender and Nationalism, Gender and ethnic violence; NGOs and social/political activism; Ethnography of post-conflict and post-socialist societies; borders, migration, and European identity

Central / Eastern Europe, former Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Selected Publications:

Femininity, Fashion, and Feminism: Women’s Activists in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In David Montgomery (ed.), Everyday Life in the Balkans, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019: 86-95.

with Andrea Krizsan, Hungarian Government’s Attack on Central European University and its Implications for Gender Studies in Central and Eastern Europe, Femina Politica 2 (2017), 169–173.

The challenges of gendering genocide: Reflections on a feminist politics of complexity, Open Forum essay, European Journal of Women's Studies, 22 (November 2015): 463-469.

Rejecting Angelina: Bosnian War Rape Survivors and the Ambiguities of Sex in War, Slavic Review 73(3), Fall 2014: 612-634.

The Movement-ization of NGOs? Women’s Organizing in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. In, Theorizing NGOs: States, Feminisms, and Neoliberalism, edited by Victoria Bernal and Inderpal Grewal. Durham, Duke Uviversity Press, 2014: 21-49.

Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation, and Women's Activism in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.

Bosnian Girl: Nationalism and innocence through images of women. In Retracing Images: Visual Culture after Yugoslavia, edited by Daniel Šuber and Slobodan Karamanić. Leiden: Brill, 2012: 195-222.

The Gender of Coffee: Women, Refugee Return, and Reconciliation Initiatives after the Bosnian War, Focaal 57, Summer 2010:17-32.

Gendered Justice: Campaigning by and for Women War Survivors in Muslim Dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Isabelle Delpla and Magali Bessone (eds.), Peines de guerre: La justice internationale et l’ex-Yougoslavie [Trials of War: International Justice and the former Yugoslavia]. Paris: Editions de l’EHESS, 2010 (in French).

The White Plague: National-demographic Rhetoric and its Gendered Resonance after the Post-Yugoslav Wars, co-authored with Stef Jansen. In Gender in Armed Conflicts and in Post-War Reconstruction, edited by Christine Eifler and Ruth Seifert (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2009): 219-243.

East and West Kiss: Gender, Orientalism, and Balkanism in Muslim-Majority Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slavic Review 67(1), Spring 2008: 88-119.

The New Bosnian Mosaic: Social Identities, Collective Memories, and Moral Hierarchies in a Post-War Society. Co-editor and co-author of Introduction chapter (with Xavier Bougarel and Ger Duijzings), (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

“‘Politics is a Whore’: Women, Morality and Victimhood in Post-War Bosnia-Herzegovina.” In The New Bosnian Mosaic. Xavier Bougarel, Elissa Helms and Ger Duijzings (eds.), (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007): 235-353.

Gendered Transformations of State Power: Masculinity, International Intervention, and the Bosnian Police, Nationalities Papers 34(3), July 2006: 343-361. (Co-editor of special issue, "Masculinities After Yugoslavia")

Current Research Projects:

My current research, after spending 2019-20 on sabbatical in the Bosnian border town of Bihac, is an ethnographic look at local responses to the large numbers of people from outside Europe moving through - and getting stuck along - the irregular "Balkan Route" to the EU. I am particularly interested in the dynamics of gender, racialization and shifts in people's sense of belonging and peripherality vis-a-vis the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina, former Yugoslav states, the EU, and "Europe." An older project deals with gender, transitional justice and post-war memory through an examination of the Women's Court, a feminist initiative to approach questions of justice during and after the wars of the 1990s in the post-Yugoslav region. At the same time, I am co-editing, with Tuija Pulkkinen of the University of Helsinki, a volume on borders as sites of desire production in a variety of gendered and sexed ways, to be published by University of Manchester Press. This collection comes out of the four-year COST network called EastBordNet, an interdisciplinary initiative looking at the eastern borders of Europe with special attention to the dynamics of gender and money at and across material and conceptual borders.

Note on PhD supervision: I welcome inquiries and applications from prospective MA or PhD students interested in the topics and areas mentioned above. However, I am currently supervising a full load of PhD students and will not necessarily have "free space" for new doctoral students in the coming academic year (2022).


Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA, 2003
MA, Cultural Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA, 1998
BA, International Relations, Bucknell University, USA, 1991

Projects with involvement of Elissa Helms