About employee

prof. dr. sc. Laura Šakaja

Title: Full Professor
Location: 218
Public phone number:01/4895 419
E-mail: E-mail
Department: GEOG - Division of Social Geography




integrated undergraduate and graduate



Laura Šakaja was born in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1958, where she completed primary and secondary school. She graduated in geography and biology at the Abhaska University in Suhumi, Georgia in 1980. She completed post-graduate studies at the Department of Geography, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University (1980 – 1983), where she attained the title of ‘scientific candidate’ (assessed as equivalent to a Master of Geography in Croatia). She received her Doctorate in 1997 with the dissertation entitled “Spatial organisation of cultural activities in Croatia” at the Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, under the mentorship of Professor Milan Vresk.

She was employed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Biology and Geography, Abhaska State University in the academic year 1984/85. From 1989 to 1991, she was a documentation researcher at the Croatian Institute of Culture, from 1991 – 1994 she worked at the Ministry of Education and Culture, and from 1994 – 2000 she was an expert associate and then advisor at the Croatian Ministry of Culture. From 2001 – 2004, she was a scientific associate at the Institute for Migration and Ethnicity. In 2004, she joined the Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, where she is today. She was named an assistant professor in 2003, associate professor in 2008, full professor in 2013 and was granted tenure in 2018.

Her area of scientific interest is cultural geography, focusing particularly on the research of imaginative geography and mental maps, the symbolism of urban landscapes and semiotic city toponomies. She has addressed the spatial aspects of religion and ethnicity, and written a number of papers in the field of the geography of the handicapped.

She is author of the scientific books Uvod u kulturnu geografiju [Introduction to Cultural Geography] (Zagreb, Leykam international, 2015) and Kultura i prostor: Prostorna organizacija kulturnih djelatnosti [Culture and Space: the spatial organisation of cultural activities] (Hrvatska sveučilišna naklada, Zagreb, 1999) and the popular science book Slijepi u prostoru grada [The Blind in the City Space] (IEF, PMF, Zagreb, 2018. She has published numerous chapters in scientific books, including the monograph The Political Life of Urban Streetscapes. Naming politics and space (Routledge, London, 2018), L ́Europe l ́est. Quinze ans après la chute du mur (L ́Harmattan, Pariz, 2004) and Contemporary Croatia: Development Challenges in a Socio-Cultural Perspective (Edições Universitárias Lusófonas, Lisabon, 2011). She was editor of the Croatian edition of the book Kulturna geografija. Kritički rječnik ključnih pojmova [Cultural Geography. A critical glossary] (Disput, Zagreb, 2008). She has published 40 scientific papers of her research results, including papers in the scientific journals Social and Cultural Geography (Q1), Cultural Geographies (Q1) and Geografiska Annaler (Q2).

She has led six University of Zagreb grants, cooperated on a Croatian Science Foundation project, four Ministry of Science and Education projects, and two international projects (Austrian Science and Research Foundation, Great Britain Royal Geographic Society). She has presented her work at some 30 scientific conferences, the majority of which were international in nature.

She was editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Migracijske i etničke teme (2002 – 2004), and member of the editorial board of the following journals: Dialogues in Human Geography (Q1, USA, 2020–), GeoInova (Portugal, 2005–), Prace Komisiji Kraobrazu Kulturnowego Polskiego Towarzystwa Geograficznego (Poland, 2010–), Dela (Slovenia, 2017–) and Migracijske i etničke teme (Croatia, 2001–). She led the organising committee for the international conference Applied Geography in Theory and Practice (Zagreb, 2010) and was a member of the organising or programme committee for a number of international conferences (Zadar, 2015; Zagreb, 2015; Lódz, 2016).

At the Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, she has held, or still holds, the courses Theories in geography, Geography of Anglo-America, Geography of Russia, Cultural geography, Geography of cultural landmarks. She introduced the latter two courses as novelties, developing their programmes. She has supervised three doctoral dissertations, two Master’s theses and numerous graduate theses and baccalaureate final papers.
She has been a guest lecturer at the Russian Geographic Society, the Geographic Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, University of Porto, and Moscow State University. She has participated in courses in the individual study programme in the post-graduate study at the Department of Geography, University of Ljubljana (2004/05). She served as co-director of the international course Divided Societies at the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik (2006–2008), and member of the Scientific expert board for interdisciplinary areas (sciences and arts) (since 2017). At the Department of Geography, she has held a number of functions: Department head (2013 – 2015), Assistant Department head for science and international cooperation in three mandates (2005 – 2011), head of the Division of Social Geography (2012/13, 2015/16), head of the branch Heritage and Tourism in the graduate university programme of geography (since 2020). She was also a member of the Faculty Ethics Committee (2015–2017).

She is a member of the Croatian Geographic Society, the research group “The Cultural Approach in Geography” of the International Geographic Union (since 1999), and the scientific and editorial board of the Cultural Landscape Committee (Komisja Krajobrazu Kulturnowego) of the Polish Geographic Society (since 2010).
She is winner of the Federik Grisogono Science award of the Croatian Geographic Society – Zadar (2018).
She actively speaks English, Russia and Georgian. She has translated both prose (D. Turašvili, Smrt u trapericama [Death in denim], 2012) and poetry (P. Shamugia, Poslovni pjesnik [Corporate poet], 2020) from Georgian into Croatian. She is author of a piece on Georgian and Abkhaz literature, for the Lexicon of World Literature (Zagreb, Školska knjiga, 2005). She edited a section on Georgia in the magazine Kolo (Zagreb, 1999), selecting and translating a discussion on Georgian history, culture and art. 

Published papers recorded in the Croatian Scientific Bibliography Database (CROSBI)

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