Leftist Imaginaries and Activist Politics in the Postsocialist World
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This collection examines how the loss of state socialism as a world-making project and the subsequent failures of postsocialist "civil society building" have impacted new generations of progressive, antinationalist, anarchist, and social-justice oriented activists.
How do the histories of state socialism come to shape activist thinking and practice in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus? What kinds of political work can and does emerge out of this thirty-year-long experience of political, social, and economic transformation? Understanding postsocialism as an intersectional experience and a geopolitically sensitive form of knowledge, this collection of essays seeks to render visible the forms of political activism in the region that are not tied to, or fully determined by, specific moments of street protest and public interruption.
Instead, the contributors examine forms of activist effort that endure in the aftermath of protest movements and in the course of lingering crises, in order to capture how our interlocutors seek to enact their desired futures under the conditions of intensifying and shape-shifting pressures of neoliberal governance. The ethnographies that span from Armenia to Ukraine, to Bosnia-Herzegovina to the newly emerging transnational Balkan route that refugees and migrants have created, illuminate how local activists engage with and/or disengage from their socialist inheritance of political imaginaries differently and imagine different futures. Our collection argues for a need for a careful, theoretically nuanced and context-specific analysis across the uneven political landscapes of the former socialist world.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of History and Anthropology.
Table of Contents
Introduction - After Utopia: Leftist imaginaries and activist politics in the postsocialist world
Larisa Kurtović and Nelli Sargsyan
1. An archive to build a future: The recovery and rediscovery of the history of socialist associations in contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina
2. Thinking through positionality in post-socialist politics: Researching contemporary social movements in Ukraine
Emily S. Channell-Justice
3. Experience-sharing as feminist praxis: Imagining a future of collective care in Armenia
4. Movements upon movements: Refugee and activist struggles to open the Balkan route to Europe
Nadia El-Shaarawi and Maple Razsa
Larisa Kurtović is political anthropologist who conducts research on activist politics, postsocialist transformation and the aftermath of international intervention in post-war Bosnia. She is currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
Nelli Sargsyan, as a feminist, situates herself at the disciplinary intersections of political anthropology, queer studies, and critical race studies, among others. Most recently she has been interested in political work that cultivates feminist consciousness and collective care, whether it be through direct street action, public performance, or feminist fabulation.