This issue carries two different, but related, thematic clusters. One is a special section on utopian practices and imaginaries; the other is a forum on current forms of activism triggered by one of the most dystopian and catastrophic scenarios: that of climate change. ‘Dystopia is necessarily intrinsic … to formulations of utopian possibilities’ and ‘generative politics’, argue Ruy Llera Blanes and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen in their introduction to the section on utopia – one ‘could therefore approach them as in tandem’. In turn, it is such generative politics that are also at stake in the visions of social change and political alternatives that is debated in the forum on climate activism, organised by Jing Sun, Lilian von Storch and Lukas Ley. In calling attention to a global diversity of utopian generative practices, Blanes and Bertelsen seek conceptual departure from the classic 20th-century metanarratives of progress that underscored modernist utopia. The forum on climate activism draws attention to the place and authority of science, progressive politics and climate justice in these movements and their effects. Together, these two clusters reveal a truly complex mosaic of political alterity across the world today, where anthropologists themselves are not simply students but interlocutors and critics and, above all, active participants.