An exploratory, interdisciplinary workshop to be held May 5, 2018, at Hawthorn Arts Centre.
In the era of Brexit, Trump, the Anthropocene, rising intolerance and inequality, and greater global insecurity, it is easy to conclude that we are living in dystopic times. For many, dystopia is not something to fear for the future, but is our present situation. Dystopian imaginaries have featured prominently in popular culture: film, art, television, and literature provide visions of despair and possibility. Science fiction so far has dominated such imaginings, from the dichotomy of benevolent or malevolent technology (Toscano, 2012) or alternate visions for overcoming political inequalities and differences, as seen in astro-futurism as a form of either utopian or dystopian space frontier projection (Kilgore, 2003). Political, social and philosophical debate has likewise engaged with the implications for our future selves in the wake of advances in technology, science, truth claims, and social organisation.
But what does it mean to say we live in dystopian times, particularly when dystopia for some is utopia for others? In this workshop, we explore the narratives and functions of dystopian and utopian imaginaries, focusing on the nexus between dichotomies and binaries that split the idea of the dystopian from the normal or even the utopian imaginary. Furthermore, what emancipatory practices or possibilities emerge from dystopian visions? How do dystopian visions offer opportunities to reimagine and rebuild worlds, or find new ones? What problematics might we encounter and should we ‘utopia as hard as we can’, as China Mieville suggests, even via uncomfortable means?
As part of an interdisciplinary investigation, we are interested in exploring the ways in which we can think about dystopias and utopias across a range of fields and cases, as well as bring together different approaches and possibilities. We invite papers that may include, but are not limited to, a focus on dystopias and utopias from the following themes:
- Temporality, distinctions and connections between utopias, dystopias and ‘realities’ (dystopias as intensities, moments, or continuities) or the relationship between dystopia, utopia and modernity
- Dystopias and security
- Identity and dystopia
- Modernism and other utopian or dystopian projects
- Technology and the utopian/dystopian nexus
- Philosophical interventions
- Capitalism, political economy and Marxist perspectives
- Gender, subjectivity and dystopia
- Narratives, discourses, and fictions of dystopia and utopia
- Frontiers and colonies of utopias/dystopias, including Afrofuturism
Publication plans will also be part of the workshop agenda.
Catering will be provided for participants, although we will not be able to fund other costs, such as flights and accommodation.
Please send a 150-200 word abstract to Sabina Sestigiani (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 1 March, 2018.