Jessica Greenberg is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to coming to UIUC, Greenberg was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and an assistant professor in Communication Studies at Northwestern University. She recently earned a Master of Studies in Law at the College of Law, University of Illinois. She is also currently the Co-Editor of the Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR).
Her work is motivated by a long-standing interest in the everyday life of social movements, as well as the hopes and disappointments that have animated democratic political activism after the Cold War. Her first book, After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy, and the Politics of Disappointment in Postsocialist Serbia (Stanford 2014) chronicles the lives of student activists as they confront the possibilities and disappointments of democracy in the shadow of recent political transformation in Serbia. In exploring the everyday practices of student activists—their triumphs and frustrations—After the Revolution argues that disappointment is not a failure of democracy but a fundamental feature of how people live and practice it.
Her current research builds on my long-standing interests in democratic practice, activism and power in the context of European integration. Drawing on ethnographic field research at the European Court for Human Rights, she examines how new definitions of European belonging and democratic practice are being defined through the legal management of citizens as rights bearing subjects. She analyzes how rights in practice are produced through legally-mediated battles over sovereignty as pan-European courts attempt to deal with the specter of threats to European democracy.