After the Revolution
Youth, Democracy, and the Politics of Disappointment in Serbia
Stanford University Press 2014
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & Society September 12, 2016 Amanda Jeanne Swaine
Jessica Greenberg’s After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy, and the Politics of Disappointment in Serbia (Stanford University Press, 2014) explores a dual tension at work in Serbia in the early 2000s. She reveals young people’s disappointment in what they saw as a betrayal by their parents’ generation that led to the collapse of Yugoslavia and the failure of democracy in Serbia, as well as adults’ disappointment that young people did not live up to expectations of what student activists should be. This “politics of disappointment”opened up new understandings of democratic engagement on the part of Serbian students, resulting in activism that utilized “quality” protests, expertise in administrative reform, and procedural participation in politics. Greenberg draws on ethnographic research with three student groups to demonstrate young people’s frustration with the practicalities of life in Serbia and the consequence that student activists rejected utopias, “whether socialist, nationalist or revolutionary.” Although Greenberg argues throughout the book that lived democracy is profoundly contradictory and flawed and that it will never live up to idealized moments and normative expectations, she also demonstrates that democratic engagement can take a variety of forms in post-socialist, post-Cold War Eastern Europe.
Jessica Greenberg is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Amanda Jeanne Swain is executive director of the Humanities Commons at the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD in Russian and East European history at the University of Washington. Her research interests include the intersections of national, Soviet and European identities in the Baltic countries. Recent publications include articles in Ab Imperio and Cahiers du Monde Russe.