Citizenship Utopias in the Global South is a Finnish Academy funded research project (2019–2023) that investigates the re-imagination and pursuit of transformative alternatives and civic activism in times of disillusionment. In the context of the so-called Arab Spring, or of the indigenous movements in Latin America, or the feminist mobilizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, widespread calls for systemic transformations are now met with popular disillusionment, disdain, and civic disengagement. The aim of the project is to better understand citizens’ perceptions and possibilities of transformative action within contexts of populist authoritarianism, securitization of civil society and extractivist models of development. It asks: How to reimagine the state, and people’s possibilities to influence it, in such conditions? Furthermore, it explores the emergence of new forms of activism that challenge the deep structures of state governance and economy.

The three ethnographic case studies focus on autonomous collective activism in Bolivia, Kenya and Tunisia.