Maple J. Razsa

Associate Professor of Global Studies

Office: Diamond 308 [ campus map ]
Box 5222

Phone: 207-859-5222
Fax: 207-859-5229
Mailing Address:
5222 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8852
Razsa, Maple J.


Ph.D. Anthropology and Visual Media, Harvard University, 2007 M.A. Social Anthropology, Harvard University, 2002 B.A. International Studies, Vassar College, 1996

Areas of Expertise

  • Social Movements
  • Human Rights
  • Political Documentary
  • Transnationalism
  • Postsocialist Europe
  • Autonomy of migration

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
AY112 DCultural Anthropology
GS227 AVisual Ways of Knowing: Transcultural Documentary Filmmaking
GS352 AGlobal Activism: From Socialist Internationalism to Today
GS457 AInsurgent Mobility Lab: Migrants, Activists, the Balkan Route


AY112: Introduction to Anthropology GS211: Human Rights and Social Struggles in Global Perspective GS397: Global Activisms GS451: Justice and Injustice in Global Europe GS437: Media, Culture and the Political Imagination

Professional Information

Maple Razsa is an Associate Professor of Global Studies at Colby College. He is committed to using text, images, and sound to embody the lived experience, as well as the political imaginations of, contemporary social movements. His films—including The Maribor Uprisings, Occupation: A Film About the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In, and Bastards of Utopia—have shown in festivals around the world. The Society for Visual Anthropology named Uprisings the Best Feature Film of 2017. Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics After Socialism (Indiana University Press, 2015), the written companion to the film of the same title, won the William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology. Trained as a filmmaker and anthropologist at Harvard University, Maple has held fellowships from Stockholm and Harvard Universities, Amherst College, and been funded by IREX, NSF, Wenner-Gren, Fulbright and Truman Foundations. His current research titled Insurgent Mobilities, a collaboration with Prof. El-Shaarawi, for which they received a 2018 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, is on the autonomy of migration and the struggle of refugees and European activists to enact freedom of movement in Europe.

Current Research

Insurgent Mobilities: An Ethnography of the Balkan Route as Movement (in collaboration with Prof. El-Shaarawi) In 2015 and 2016, more than a million people traveled the Balkan route seeking safety in Europe. In what activists called the long summer of migration and mainstream media referred to as the European migrant/refugee crisis, people on the move made their way from Turkey, across the Aegean sea to Greece, up through the countries of the former Yugoslavia to Hungary and onward to Northern Europe. Along the way, they found activist allies who supported their movement and fought against the eventual closure of the route. For a brief period, the route disrupted the European border regime, an elaborate, robust, and expensive apparatus designed to prevent exactly such migration. How, in this era of proliferating and securitized borders, did this unprecedented movement of people from the Global South to Global North succeed? Anthropologists Nadia El-Shaarawi and Maple Razsa will coauthor an ethnography of the Balkan route that tells the story of the migrants who challenged and circumvented borders in their efforts to reach Europe in a struggle for what they and their activist allies called freedom of movement. Razsa has researched and worked in ethnographic filmmaking within radical activist networks in the former Yugoslavia and beyond, with a focus on direct action, migrant labor organizing, antiborder protests, and the radical political imagination. El-Shaarawi’s ethnographic work in the Middle East and North Africa has focused on urban displacement in the Global South as a form of containment and refugees’ challenging experiences navigating formal resettlement programs. Since 2015, El-Shaarawi and Razsa have collaborated on this project to investigate how migrants and activists opened the route through a series of clandestine and open border struggles. Together they have conducted participant observation at sites along the route and collected oral histories of migrants and activists to study the forms of collaboration and struggle that made mobility possible. El-Shaarawi and Razsa’s book puts the route in historical and social context to argue that the Balkan route can be read not as a humanitarian crisis, but as a literal social movement—where mobility itself challenged, for a brief moment, existing border regimes.


Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics after Socialism, (2015) Indiana University Press. Cross-listed in the Indiana University Press’ New Anthropologies of Europe & Global Research Studies series (winner of the 2016 William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology))

“New borders, Old solidarities: (Post-) Cold War Genealogies of Mobility along the ‘Balkan Route’” (with David Henig), in Paul Stubbs (ed), The Non-Aligned Movement and Socialist Yugoslavia, McGill Queens University Press (under review)
“Reappropriating the Balkan Route: Mobility Struggles and Joint-Agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” (with Andrej Kurnik) Dve Domovini/Two Homelands 52 (2020)
“Movements Upon Movements: Refugee and Activist Struggles to Open the Balkan Route to Europe” (with Nadia El-Shaarawi). History and Anthropology, (January 2019) Volume 30, Issue 1, pp. 91-112.
“Beyond ’Riot Porn:’ Protest Video and the Production of Unruly Political Subjects,” Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, (forthcoming February 2014)

“Occupy Slovenia: From Resisting Migrant Illegality to Innovative Direct Democracy” (co-authored with Andrej Kurnik), in Border Crossers, Border Protectors: Social Movements and Globalization, eds. Naples, Nancy and Jennifer Mendez, New York University Press, (forthcoming)

“Images of Global Militancy: Reflections on Affect, Memory and Embodiment” Audio-Visual Thinking Journal (June 2012) Volume 4

“The Occupy Movement in Žižek’s hometown: Direct democracy and a politics of becoming," (co-authored with Andrej Kurnik) American Ethnologist, Volume 39 Number 2 (May 2012) pp 238-258

“Producing Spectacles of Resistance: Global Social Movements, Activist Video, and Political Mimesis in the former Yugoslavia,” in Časopis za kritiko znanosti (Journal for the Critique of Science), (Volume 33, Number 220, 2005, pp 165-176)

“Balkan is Beautiful: Balkanism in the Political Discourse of Tuđman’s Croatia” (co-authored with Nicole Lindstrom) East European Politics and Society (Volume 18, Number 4, 2004, pp 628-650)


“Anarchism,” International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, section editors, Dominic Boyer and Ulf Hannerz (forthcoming) April 2015

“Learning from, and Contributing to, European Uprisings Against Corruption, Austerity and Neoliberalism,” (co-authored with Andrej Kurnik), Anthropology News, June 2013

Review of Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalization, by Jeffery J. Juris. Duke University Press, 2009, in American Anthropologist

“Toward an Affirmative Ethnography,” Anthropology News, September 2012

Co-editor, Cultural Anthropology “Hot Spot” on the Occupy Movement, July 2012, with submissions by nineteen contributors

“Introduction: Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings,” (co-authored with Jeffrey Juris), Cultural Anthropology, “Hot Spot” on the Occupy Movement, July 2012

“The Subjective Turn: The Radicalization of Personal Experience within Occupy Slovenia,” Cultural Anthropology, “Hot Spot” on the Occupy Movement, July 2012

“Mutual Aid, Anti-Authoritarianism, and Dumpster Diving: Anarchist Activism in Croatia Since 2000,” in Sabrina Ramet, et al (eds). Challenges Facing Croatia after 1995, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2008

“Regionalism, Memory, and Belonging at the Frontiers of the Nation-State,” (review essay) History In Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans by Pamela Ballinger, Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 77, Number 1, 2004, pp 161-165

“Video” essay in Shock and Awe: The War on Words. Eds. Anna Tsing et al. New Pacific Press: Santa Cruz. 2004


2017 The Maribor Uprising: A Live Participatory Film, a production of EnMasse FIlms, (with Milton Guillén) (Best Feature Film, Society for Visual Anthropology) 2010 Bastards of Utopia. 54 min. Documentary Educational Resources. Cambridge, MA. (with Pacho Velez) 2002 Occupation: A Film about the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In. 44 min. Filmakers Library. New York, New York. (with Pacho Velez) 2001 Partisan. 54 min. En Masse Films. Cambridge, MA. FESTIVAL SCREENINGS World premiere at CPH:DOX (Copenhagen 2017), North American premiere at Hot Docs: Canadian International Documentary Film Festival (Toronto 2017), African premiere at Encounters: South African International Documentary Film festival (Cape Town and Johannesburg 2017), Asian premiere at DMZ International Documentary Film Festival (Paju and Goyang 2017), and US premiere at Rooftop Films (New York 2017). It also screened at the Maine International Film Festival, Transylvania International Film Festival, Congress Square Park Film Series, and Lent Festival Maribor, DokuDoc: Maribor International Documentary Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival, UnionDocs, and the Global Center for Advanced Study Film Festival. The Society for Visual Anthropology named Uprisings 2017 Best Feature Film; Zagreb International Documentary Festival; Motovun Film Festival; Maine International Film Festival; Society for Visual Anthropology Media Festival; Big Sky Documentary Film Festival; Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival; Harvard Film Archive; Liburnia Film Festival; International Ethnographic Film Festival of the University of British Columbia, Canada; Cineaste Magazine New Documentary Series, NYC; Association for the Study of Nationalities New Documentary Series, Columbia University; Astra Film Festival, Sibiu, Romania; Anthology Film Archive, NYC; Intimate Lens Festival of Visual Ethnography, Caserta, Italy; Days of Ethnographic Film, Slovenia; Go East Film Festival, Wiesbaden, Germany; WorldFilm Festival of Visual Culture, Tartu, Estonia; Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, Göttingen University, Germany


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