It is with great sadness that the Institut d'études Européennes Ar the Université libre de Bruxelles has learnt about the sudden death of Filip Brkovic, who we fortunate to count among the PhD students of our GEM community. As one of his two alma maters, the ULB was proud to deliver a doctorate in Political and Social Sciences to Filip for his dissertation on “An Assessment of Possibilities for Stronger Inclusion of Upper-middle-income Economies in the Fairtrade System - Case Study Serbia”.His thesis is a milestone in the GEM research agenda and both universities involved are proud to count Filip among their alumni.
Both of his supervisors - Professor and M. Watson in Warwick and Professor J.L. De Meulemeester in Brussels – have repeatedly expressed the utmost appreciation for his work. Professor Watson describes his PhD as “simultaneously a beacon of hope, a portent of how to reshape the world to help as many people as possible to lift themselves out of poverty, an exemplary illustration of how to derive important findings from interview data and a compelling blend of the activist’s and the academic’s voices” – while Professor De Meulemesteer praised Filip's courage and dedication as a researcher, as he proved to be both “something of a risk taker” as well as a committed individual able to balance his deeply held personal convictions with the critical mindset that characterises any original research. Indeed, being a fair trade activist himself, Filip was deeply involved in, and committed to his research topic. To his credit, he found the right balance between his role as a researcher and his calling as a committed and principled citizen defending a cause.
Ultimately, he will remember him as “a remarkably sophisticated analysist of political and social realities he had studied, such as the prospects for more equitable markets”. His contributions will remain in our collective memory as a thought-provoking and brilliant milestone which enlarged our understanding of the global politics of food while also reflecting Filip’s commitment to encouraging a fairer world
During his PhD, Filip also picked up the mantle of Professor Mario Teló’s teaching assistant. He would rapidly prove to be an enthusiastic and well liked teacher as he guided the master students he was entrusted with towards greater analytical rigour, but also encouraged them to hone their personal conviction. Again, the interaction between Filip's bog heart and sharp mind would provide for a deeply engaging harmony.
On a personal level, colleagues have repeatedly praised his generous soul, vibrant temperament and inquisitive mind. Whether in Brussels to Warwick, Filip was considered one of the most dynamic and captivating voices. As Professor Watson puts it: “he knew how to listen, and he also had that happy knack of being able to find the right words to soothe even the rawest of emotions. (…) All of the people within our Department who knew him have been faced with the need to try to channel their own inner Filip in the grim days since his death as they struggle to come to terms with the awful news that he is no longer with us”.
The Institute’s authorities, professors, researchers and administrative staff members offer their sincerest condolences to Filip’s wife (fellow colleague of the GEM community and a member of the IEE), young son and closest relatives.