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Dr. Jochen Töpfer

Goßlerstrasse 2-4
Room K4
14195 Berlin

Jochen Töpfer studied Political Science, Sociology and Economics and the Universities of Bamberg, Berlin (FU), and Ljubljana. He graduated in 2006 (Dipl. Pol.) at the Free University of Berlin. During the post-graduate period, he was Visiting Researcher at the University of Ljubljana / Slovenia and University Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje / Macedonia, supported by a scholarship from DAAD. In May 2009, he became Research Assistant and Project Coordinator of the research project “Migration from Armenia and Georgia” at the chair of Prof. Dr. Genov, Institute for East-European Studies, Free University Berlin. The doctoral thesis (“Political Elites in Slovenia and Macedonia. Rational or symbolic politics?”) was defended in August 2010, receiving the academic degree Dr. rer. pol. (`magna cum laude`). Since September 2010, Jochen Töpfer is lecturer at the Institute for East-European Studies. Currently he is Post-Doc Researcher at the Center for Area Studies (CAS), Free University Berlin, working on a project on religion in South-Eastern Europe (working title: “Re-arranging Society. Religion and Social Relations in South-Eastern Europe.”).

His fields of academic interest are social transformations, political elites, cross-border cooperation and religion with special regard to South-Eastern Europe.
Focus of Research

Political elites, transformation and development, religion, cross-border cooperation – special regard to South-Eastern Europe


Postdoctoral Research Project


“Re-arranging Society. Religion and Social Relations in South-Eastern Europe.”


Samuel Huntington predicted a “clash of civilizations” after the collapse of state-socialism – meaning the replacement of former ideologies by the return of religions in the center of coming conflicts on inter- and intra-national level.

The societies of South-Eastern Europe are marked by heterogeneity in the religious sphere. The diversity of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and other movements), branches of Sunni and Shiite Islam, and many other religious communities are an empirical basis for classifying South-Eastern Europe as a potential conflict region in his sense.

Huntingtons prediction is only one theoretical model of social science about the factor religion in politics and conflicts today. Consequently, the project “Religious Elites and Societal Change in South-Eastern Europe” asks about the point of view of the religious sphere in Albania, Macedonia, and Slovenia about the relation between religion, state, and society. Representatives of that sphere are religious elites – their interpretation of developments today can determine if religion is or will become a factor for integration or separation, cooperation or conflict in a state.

Do they promote a pluralistic, open model for all members of society or do they foster exclusive patterns of social order, preferring their community? In catching their conceptions of the relation between religion, state, and society, the project in the second step will compare their point of view with the institutional state perspective and attitudes of the population. Significant differences from that two reference points could place religion in South-Eastern Europe in the position of a main factor explaining intra-state conflict.


I. Monographs

Transformation der Gesellschaften des westlichen Balkans. Saarbrücken: VDM 2008.


Politische Eliten in Slowenien und Makedonien. Symbolische oder rationale Politik? Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2012.


II. Articles (peer-reviewed)

Boxen mit Nikola – Starke Politiker im Südosten. Neuland Magazin 11 / 2012, Basel 2012. (forthcoming)


Nothing about fashion. Slovenia in present times. SI Info Nr. 12/2007, Ljubljana: Government Communication Office of The Republic of Slovenia 2007, S. 41.


Political Elites and Ethnic Relations in The Republic of Macedonia. 10th Mediterranean Research Meeting, Florence: European University Institute 2009.