Bastards of Utopia

Bastards of Utopia

Living Radical Politics after Socialism
Maple Razsa
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/06/2015
Format: Paperback 20 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01586-0
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Winner, the 2016 William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology

Bastards of Utopia, the companion to a feature documentary film of the same name, explores the experiences and political imagination of young radical activists in the former Yugoslavia, participants in what they call alterglobalization or "globalization from below." Ethnographer Maple Razsa follows individual activists from the transnational protests against globalization of the early 2000s through the Occupy encampments. His portrayal of activism is both empathetic and unflinching—an engaged, elegant meditation on the struggle to re-imagine leftist politics and the power of a country's youth. More information on the film can be found at

Author Bio

Maple Razsa is Associate Professor of Global Studies at Colby College. A documentary filmmaker, his work includes Bastards of Utopia (2010) and Occupation: A Film about the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In (2002; both with Pacho Velez).


“This empathetic and unflinching portrayal of activism follows young radical activists in former Yugoslavia from the transnational protests against globalization of the early 2000s through the Occupy encampments.”

“An innovative narrative ethnography of postsocialism, radical activism, and the alterglobalization/Occupy movements. . . . [G]reatly expands the scope and purview of our knowledge of alterglobalization activism, most accounts of which focus on North America and Western Europe . . . [W]ritten in a clear and compelling style that brings the reader into the thick of the action.”
 — Jeffrey Juris, author of Networking Futures: the Movements against Corporate Globalization

“For those seeking evidence of twenty-first century experiments in both constructive rebellion and 'concrete utopia,' Razsa and Velez's documentary will prove a seminal film.”
 — Richard Porton, from Cineaste review of the companion film

“Dramatic proof that the struggle for liberty is irrepressible.”
 — Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States, on the companion film

“[E]xplores the possibilities, limits, and most importantly lived experience of radical activism after the fall of Yugoslav socialism . . . [C]ouldn’t be more timely for scholars and undergraduate and graduate students interested in progressive politics, social movements, youth, and anti-corporate globalization activism.”
 — Jessica Greenberg, author of After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy and the Politics of Disappointment in Serbia

“[A] sophisticated analysis . . . . [T]akes the reader deep into the world of radical politics in a globalized postsocialist context.”
 — Marianne Maeckelberg, author of The Will of the Many: How the Alterglobalisation Movement is Changing the Face of Democrac

“Razsa's affirmative ethnography is by no means naive or uncritical, but rather exhibits a kind of intellectual generosity and political honesty that makes it a timely, persuasive and welcome addition to anthropology of anarchism. It is also great proof that good things still emerge out of long-term ethnographic engagement with a particular historical-geographic space.”
 — PoLAR

“Bastards of Utopia makes an excellent contribution to the study of political activism and the social movements that have left an imprint on local and international politics around the world—from the antiglobalization demonstrations of the turn of the century to the so-called Color Revolutions, Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street. ”
 — American Anthropologist

“The book’s cast of characters proves outspoken and sometimes violent, willing to don gas masks and wield Molotov cocktails during standoffs with authorities. In this manner, Razsa brings a personal note to his academic treatment of politics, protest, transnational movements, and globalization . . . This book will prove a boon to anyone interested in understanding the diverse world of contemporary protest, as variously made manifest in the Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring, and Ferguson.”
 — Publishers Weekly

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Table of Contents

1. Grassroots Globalization in National Soil
2. Uncivil Society: NGOs, the Invasion of Iraq, and the Limits of Polite Protest
3. "Feeling the State on Your Own Skin": Direct Confrontation and the Production of Militant Subjects
4. "Struggling For What Is Not Yet": The Right to the City in Zagreb
5. The Occupy Movement: Direct Democracy and a Politics of Becoming
Conclusion: From Critique to Affirmation

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