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

By Jessica Greenberg | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Democracy and Revolution After the Cold War

THE GRAFFITO IN FIGURE 1 adorned an aging, dirty-gray building in the heart of Belgrade in the summer of 2005. The red text, in messy, all-caps Cyrillic, demanded that passersby contend with one simple question: why is there no more Otpor? (Zašto nema Otpora!) Otpor most likely refers to the eponymous student and people’s group that stood for the anti-Milošević movement and the October 5 revolution. But one could just as easily read the message as, why isn’t there any resistance? In this sense, Otpor is not a group of people but a state of being, the exclamation mark a call to arms.

If we were to meet the author of this provocation, we might ask him or her, Whose resistance? Where? For or against what? Indeed, the poignancy of the message lies not only in a nostalgia for resistance; it rests in a longing for the clarity of a political field that makes resistance thinkable and possible. That longing for clarity is not surprising given the state of things in Serbia only five years after the revolution. The opposition and resistance-leaders-turned-politicians came to represent a political system that produced high unemployment, a fractious and messy political field, the assassination of a beloved leader, and continued nationalist revanchism. As in other newly democratic contexts—particularly postrevolutionary and postsocialist ones—neither the domain of politics nor the object of resistance was clear cut (Snajder 2008).

This graffito, like the ethnographic encounters throughout this book, challenges us to ask how people configure political action and agency in the face of such ambiguity and in the shadow of idealized moments of

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