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In the Shadow of the Iron Curtain

Central and Eastern European Alterglobalists

Grzegorz Piotrowski

This book examines the alterglobalist activists in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Based on lengthy ethnographic fieldwork and numerous in-depth interviews with key figures of the movement, it covers mobilizations and actions between 1998 and 2011 and analyzes the process of adapting the alterglobalist way of thinking, claims and organizational modes in post-socialist countries. By pointing out the main challenges the movement faced, the author discusses the ways it tried to overcome these. The main argument is that the post-communist legacy (expressed in low levels of mobilization, in rejection of leftist ideals and discourse and in deep mistrust towards political life) had a tremendous impact on the formation and the shape of the alterglobalist movement in the region.

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‘In the Shadow of the Iron Curtain: Central and Eastern European Alterglobalists’ is a book that started as a doctoral thesis. It presents the development and the characteristic of the Global Justice Movement in Poland, the Czech Republic and in Hungary. Using tools and approaches derived mostly from anthropology this book gives an insight into the movement in Central and Eastern Europe. Although far from being exhaustive, it is one of the first comparative ethnographies of the movement and of the activists in the region. One of the main ways to explain the specificity of the movement in this part of the world is the existence of the postsocialist condition – a set of factors that have shaped the ways of organization of contentious politics. By looking at grassroots and radical social movements, this book aims at bringing the reality of Central and Eastern Europe for social movements closer to the reader.

This book also attempts to analyze the movement from various perspectives by looking at its relations with the civil society, subcultures and countercultural milieus and with other actors of the global movement. At the core of the analysis lay the repertoires of actions used in the region and the frames used to link local protests with more global struggles. In particular I was interested how do the social activists manage to deal with postsocialist environment and how do they adapt the frames derived from activism in other parts of the world to their own cases...

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