Vertiginous optimism: optimistic orientations in a field of chronic crisis

Daniel M. Knight*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter is concerned with the forms of optimism that might be present in Greece, where the consequences of long-term economic austerity continue their asphyxiating hold on futural orientations. First, engaging with notions of “good” and “dark” anthropology, it ponders what might constitute the right kind of optimism, interrogating the notion that optimistic orientations need to be ethically palatable and at odds with the structural and historical conditions of neoliberalism. Second, it turns to the concept of vertiginous life, presenting micro-utopias of everyday practice where the vertiginous indicates positive escapism and futural momentum against a backdrop of general pessimism, precarity, and vulnerability. This chapter shows how optimistic orientations are not solely the property of anti-neoliberal, anarchic, “happy” movements, but can be somewhat “conservative” or individual while nevertheless offering a view of how the world could be otherwise.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnthropological optimism
Subtitle of host publicationengaging the power of what could go right
EditorsAnna J. Willow
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003346036
ISBN (Print)9781032386430, 9781032386447
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2023


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