16 February 2010

Seminar: After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy and the Politics of Disappointment in Postsocialist Serbia

Northwestern University, Department of Anthropology, Anthropology Building, Seminar Room 104, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, Illinois, USA, 22 February 2010, 3.00 pm

Jessica Greenberg: "After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy and the Politics of Disappointment in Postsocialist Serbia"

Abstract: "On October 5, 2000 the citizens of Serbia staged a mass democratic revolution on the streets of Belgrade. Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the capital demanding in signs, songs, whistles and chants that Slobodan Milošević accept electoral defeat and step down as the country's leader. Democratic activists, opposition leaders, and students had overcome ten long years of authoritarian control of government and media to bring democracy to Serbia. In the years leading up to the revolution, student democratic activists became a symbol of hope, courage and energy in Serbia and internationally. October 5th marked both the high point and the end of the love affair with these young revolutionaries.

"Two years later, when I began my research with student activists, their image had been tarnished. Former opposition members, government ministers, and media figures dismissed student groups as at best irritating and at worst corrupt. For many people, inside and outside the country, Serbia's revolutionary tale was one of hope turned to disappointment, promise to failure. In narrating their hopes for a democratic future, people had drawn on the images and discourses of youth protest. 'After the Revolution' traces the history and significance of revolutionary and post-revolutionary political expectations in order to demonstrate how disappointment shapes Serbia's emerging democracy.

"Democratic failure in Serbia was produced when both local and international actors judged post-revolutionary democracy in terms of expectations generated in the crucible of the student-led revolution. Democratic youth revolutionaries promised positive political transformation and a more hopeful future for Serbian citizens. But actual democracy delivered poverty, social unrest and factional struggle. I will demonstrate how youth and student activists have become metonymic for the movement from hope to disappointment in newly democratic Serbia."

Followed by a reception. All are welcome.

Jessica Greenberg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.

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