Bastards of Utopia: living radical politics after socialism.

Author:Jandric, Petar
Position:REVIEW ARTICLE - Book review

Bastards of Utopia

Maple Razsa, Bastards of Utopia: living radical politics after socialism Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2015; 291 pp; ISBN 9780253015839 with:

Maple Razsa and Pacho Velez (dirs.), Bastards of Utopia (2010), 54 minutes 'Bastards of Utopia: a remixable documentary',

A few years ago, I had a difficult time reviewing Maple Razsa's feature documentary Bastards of Utopia (2010). The film successfully transported me into my past as an active member of the Zagreb anarchist scene during the 1990s, but my personal feelings about Croatian reality from that period were quite different from the one presented. As regards the film, I still feel the same. However, the film has soon been followed by the book Bastards of Utopia: living radical politics after socialism and by a dedicated website (

Arguably, the full depth and extent of Razsa's ethnography can be understood only from the combination of the film, the book and the website. This is an in-built feature of Razsa's unique use of (video) technology in (ethnographic) research--instead of reviewing the book, therefore, this article reviews all aspects of Razsa's ethnography of three young anarchist activists in Zagreb, Croatia.

Let us briefly remind ourselves about the film. Bastards of Utopia is the story of three young Croatian anarchists struggling to change the world amid the aftershocks of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the bloody wars in the former Yugoslavia. Deeply rooted in the local context, it draws strong links with global issues and provides a new angle for exploring fundamental questions related to activism. Classified as a documentary educational resource, the feature documentary is well suited for courses in subjects ranging from gender, anti-globalisation and social movements, to ethnography and anthropology.

The book covers issues pertaining to grassroots globalisation in national soil. It explores the role of NGOs during the invasion of Iraq, and the limits of polite protest. Using these themes, it shows the main issues characteristic for fragile civil society in post-communist Croatia. Moving on to direct confrontation, the book analyses the production of militant subjects. Finally, it analyses the cases of the Right to the City in Zagreb and the new forms of collective struggle emerging from the Occupy Movement.

The book addresses and...

To continue reading