UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Lake Bled, Slovenia

Dr Eric Gordy

Dr Eric Gordy

Senior Lecturer



Joined UCL
8th Oct 2007

Research summary

Eric Gordy is a political and cultural sociologist concentrating on Southeast Europe, especially the states of the former Yugoslavia. His first book, The Culture of Power in Serbia: Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives, represented an effort to offer an understanding of nationalist-authoritarian government and its staying power that concentrated not on political leaders and preconceived “ethnic” categories, but on the experience of everyday life, blockage and distraction under conditions of constraint. This bottom-up approach to large-scale political events was developed further in Guilt, Responsibility and Denial: The Past at Stake in Post-Milošević Serbia, which explored ways in which dialogue about public memory and understanding of the wars of the 1990s both moved forward and met obstacles, and both efforts at opening discussions of memory and efforts at denial were transformed in response to ongoing events.

More recent research projects involve interactions between politics and culture at the level of the state and on an international scale. The Soft Power in the World project is an effort to pin down the widely used but vaguely defined operation of “soft power,” exploring how American, European and Chinese efforts to project their identities in four regions of the world resonate in the cultures where they are directed. The Practices of Democracy in Southeast Europe project looks comparatively at four countries in the region, investigating what people expect from democracy and what their actual experience of political parties and popular relations with government looks like. The Closing the Gap Between Formal and Informal Institutions in the Balkans project probes the limitations of legal and structural reform, investigating ways in which people have blocked, circumvented and otherwise tried to cope with transformations directed from above in both the Communist and neoliberal periods. In all these research projects, there is a strong emphasis on collaboration with scholars in the regions being studied, on the use and refinement of methodologies that move beyond the top level of political structures and the “obvious,” and on bringing to area studies an enhanced recognition of theoretical complexity.

Eric makes an effort to bring the findings of research close to the public, appearing regularly and writing regularly for media. His comments on the region have appeared in international outlets including The New York Times, BBC, Agence France-Presse, as well as regional outlets including Danas, BH Dani,  Slobodna Bosna, Peščanik, and Novi List. He maintains informal comment through the East Ethnia blog. He has taught and held visiting positions at a variety of institutions, including University of California Berkeley, Clark University, University of Bologna, Institute of Advanced Study Budapest, University of Belgrade and University of Niš.

Teaching summary

SESS1205 Understanding Politics I: The Big Questions in Contemporary Europe (BA)

SESS2109 Politics and Societies of Southeast Europe (BA)

SEESGS60 Empires, Nationalism and Communism: States and Societies of South-Eastern Europe (MA)

SEESGS61 Politics of South-Eastern Europe (MA)

SEESGS45 Qualitative Methods (MA)


University of California
PhD, Sociology | 1997
University of California
MA, Sociology | 1992
Swarthmore College
BA, Sociology (Major) and Anthropology (Minor) | 1988