Accepted Paper:

"This is not the end of history": re-negotiating civil society and anti-capitalist activism in postsocialist Serbia  


Jelena Tosic (University of St.Gallen)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the creation of novel political spaces and conceptions of civil society by new anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist social movements in postsocialist Serbia, which are transcending both nationalism and neo-liberalism of the local political and civil society elites.

Paper long abstract:

The over-politicised everyday context in Serbia - characterized by the constant battle between democrats and nationalists in the shape of political parties, NGOs and nationalist movements - hides novel political discourse- and agency spaces of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist social movements and collectives. Those clearly demarcate themselves from both nationalism and neo-liberalism of the local political and civil society elites. The rejection of Fukuyama's thesis of the "end of history" represents their starting point for blueprints and visions of an alternative globalisation of solidarity and social justice. The common goal of the movements is the substantial transformation of local civil society - the rejection of local "civil society elites" characterized by a neo-liberal ideology and short-winded top-down projects defined by donor organizations ("the project model") in favour of grassroots, holistic and sustainable approaches, which aim at strengthening solidarity, social justice, transnational networking and are responsive to local needs.

Direct actions, alliances with autonomous worker's unions, transnational activism (such as e.g. within the WSF, PGA and the Zapatistas-movement), grass-root democratic decision making processes (such as e.g. the so called "spokes councils") etc. are some of the milestones of the emerging political spaces and strategies.

The theoretical background of the presented ethnographic material comprises anthropological approaches to civil society, grassroots democracy and new social movements (e.g. Escobar, Appadurai, Sampson), contemporary transformations of the state (e.g. Sharma and Gupta, Trulliot, Kapferer, Comaroff and Comaroff etc.) and the anthropology of postsocialism (e.g. Hann, Verdery, Sampson, Kalb).

Panel IW07
Empires and differences