Author: dmbell85

Utopia, Now! Programme

The programme for Utopia, Now! (our final symposium!) at Chelsea College of Arts, 29-31st August, is now available here (.pdf). If you’re not presenting but would be interested in attending, please email utopianow2017@gmail.com – you’re very welcome for some or all of the symposium!

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Utopia, Now! Call for Contributions

The call for contributions for our final symposium is now live – see below. Entitled ‘Utopia, Now! it will be held at Chelsea College of Arts, London, from 29-31st August 2017. It will be free to attend and bursaries are available.
(This call is available as a a .pdf)
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Utopia, Now!

Chelsea College of Arts, 29th-31st August 2017.

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” – Martin Luther King

“We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings” – Ursula Le Guin

Is it not crass to talk of utopianism at this time of crisis? Is our situation not too urgent to engage with such far-off fripperies?

Quite the opposite, we think. Our situation demands utopianism. This symposium is dedicated to thinking through what this might entail. It will explore utopianisms that connect with ‘the fierce urgency of the now’ by struggling within, against and beyond that now.

Common sense tells us that this is impossible, of course. We respond by saying that utopianism makes the impossible possible and the possible impossible.

Common sense tells us that utopianism is necessarily violent. We respond by saying that this may be so, but that it pales into comparison with the ongoing violence of anti-utopianism. Piecemeal is complicity.

‘Common sense’ has led us to ecological crisis, rising fascism, white supremacy, ongoing colonialism and growing inequality. It is not just realistic to demand the impossible, it is impossible to demand the realistic. Yet there are, of course, many groups who do — as well as demand — the impossible: activists carving out spaces of solidarity and hope; queers and gender non-conforming people whose very existence rejects and transforms the here-and-now; artists and musicians whose works gesture to unimaginable worlds; Black Lives Matter; squatters who rethink notions of housing, property and family; Indigenous peoples resisting ongoing colonialism in defence of their lifeworlds; and survivors of abuse who generate new forms of justice and accountability. In this, they reject the hegemony of ‘the now’, opening up a terrain of multiple nows upon which we might act.

For ‘Utopia, Now!’ we invite proposals for presentations, performances or media works (maximum of 20 minutes) that address or contribute to a utopianism that operates within, against and/or beyond these nows. We will also consider workshop proposals (up to an hour). Proposals may be from any academic discipline but we are equally welcoming of proposals from outside/against the academy. We particularly welcome proposals for presentations by groups experiencing oppression at this current moment. Many such subjects have been excluded from and by various forms of utopianism: we choose instead to celebrate the utopian potentials of their praxis.

‘Utopia, Now!‘ will be a small, intimate symposium with no parallel sessions. Participants are expected to attend all of the two and a half day program so that discussions can develop across the whole symposium. Consequently, we will not accept virtual presentations unless this forms an integral part of the presentation’s content, and where someone will be able to be physically present during the symposium. We have also commissioned film and musical performances, which will make up part of an evening programme during the symposium.

Specific topics may include, but are not limited to:

Utopian Bodies: race, gender, class, (dis)ability
Embodied and affective power in utopianism. To include co-constitutions and intersections of the above; and inclusive of trans, non-binary and agender knowledges, experiences and approaches.

Queer Utopianism; Queering Utopianism
Queer spatiotemporalities, queer lives, queer struggle, queer art.

Utopia(nism) and Emergent and Ongoing Struggles
Black Lives Matter, anti-fracking campaigns, Sisters Uncut, Indigenous struggles, No Borders, etc.

Decolonial Utopianism; Decolonizing Utopianism
Is utopianism a workable framework for decolonial/Indigenous struggle? What other concepts might be utilized?

Beyond Eurocentric Utopianism
Who gets to think the future?

Utopian Infrastructures
The built environment; solidarity and care networks; physical and virtual spaces.

Utopia and Violence
Antifacist resistance, nonviolence, decolonial violence, armed struggle.

Utopia, Religion and Faith
Organised religion, fictional religions, religion and hope, Indigenous cosmologies, religion and sf.

Beyond/Neighbouring Utopia
Heterotopia, nowtopia, disutopia, anti-anti-utopia, comparable non-Western concepts.

Utopian Creativity
Artwork, music, film-making, theatre, creative writing, design fiction, performance.

Utopian Praxis
The relationship between utopian theory, utopian fiction and material utopianism.

Utopian Aesthetics
Utopia and design; the ‘feel’ of utopia, the dangers of aestheticization.

Utopian Fabulations and Fictions
How do utopian fictions connect with struggles within, against and beyond our present moment?

Proposals/Deadline
Please send proposals (no more than 400 words) to utopianow2017@gmail.com by 5pm (GMT) Tuesday 2nd May, 2017. Proposals should specify how long you would ideally like to present for (max of 20 mins for papers, 1 hour for workshops), but be aware that we may ask you to reduce this should we be short of time and space. 

Special journal issues
The Imaginaries of the Future: Historicizing the Present network is producing four special issues of the open access Open Library of Humanities journal. These will feature versions of papers presented at our six symposia. There is no obligation to publish, but we hope that many presenters will consider submitting a paper for consideration. We are open to non-traditional formats as far as the journal’s editorial board allows, and would also be interested in interviewing those who do not wish to write a full article themselves.

Costs and Bursaries
There is no cost to present at ‘Utopia, Now!’. Lunches and refreshments will be provided.

In addition, we are pleased to offer a number of bursaries: at least three of up to £350 and two of up to £1,000. These can be used to reclaim costs accrued through travel, food and accommodation (regrettably, bursaries cannot be paid in advance). We may also be able to pay for time and costs incurred in the production of work, but please email us informally to discuss this before applying. We particularly welcome applications for these from people of colour; people from Indigenous backgrounds; women and those whose gender identities do not conform to hegemonic gendered norms; people from poor and working class backgrounds; and disabled people.

To apply for a bursary please include the following with your proposal:

  • An estimation of your costs for the trip and details of any other sources of funding available to you.
  • A mini-CV (maximum two sides A4) or a brief account of any information pertinent to your application (maximum one side of A4). This might include information on current, former or future projects (academic, artistic, activist, literary, etc.).

If you have any queries about any aspect of this call please email utopianow2017@gmail.com.

 

Utopia After the Human: Call for Contributions

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We’re delighted to announce the call for contributions for our fifth symposium, Utopia After the Human, to be held at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, from the 11-12th April 2017. It is free to attend and bursaries are available. Read on for more details….

(this call is available as a.pdf)

Call for Contributions

What subjectivities exist within, against and beyond our present? Is ‘the human’ still a viable subject for an emancipatory politics? And if not, what does this mean for utopianism? Is it even possible to think utopia apart from the human? How might we distinguish between technological futurisms that (re-)centre the human and those that de-centre it?

The fifth Imaginaries of the Future: Historicizing the Present symposium will explore the relationship between utopia(nism) and subjectivity. We welcome proposals for twenty minute presentations that explore the relationship between the post-, trans-, more-than-, non-, and/or in-human and utopia(nism) from any academic discipline. We also welcome proposals from artists, film-makers, musicians, activists or indeed anyone else from outside the academy. This may include the presentation of artistic work, or presentations that do not otherwise conform to academic norms.

We particularly welcome proposals for presentations that challenge dominant narratives regarding the ‘turn’ away from the human. Particular racialized, gendered and disabled subjects have long been excluded from the category of ‘the human’, whilst many Indigenous cosmologies reject understandings of ‘the human’ that underpin Western thought. Many such subjects have also been excluded from and by various utopianisms, even as they develop forms of knowledge and praxis that might be thought of as utopian.

Papers should engage with the concept of utopia(nism) (or a related term: dystopia, anti-utopia, heterotopia, etc.), although this engagement can be critical. We do not expect all presenters to have familiarity with academic work on utopia.

“Utopia after the Human” will be a small, intimate, symposium with no parallel sessions. Participants are expected to attend all of the two-day program so that discussions can develop across the whole symposium. Consequently, we will not accept virtual presentations unless this forms an integral part of the presentation’s content, and where someone will be able to be physically present during the symposium.

Specific topics through which presentations may interrogate the relationship between posthumanism and utopianism include but are not limited to:      

Posthuman bodies, posthuman subjects

  • Posthuman, transhuman, more-than-human and/or inhuman?
  • Intersections/co-constitutions of race, gender, class, (dis)ability and queerness
  • Cyborgs and post-cyborgs
  • Alien, animal, vegetable and mineral agency
  • Health and aging
  • (Dis)ability
  • Prosthetics, drugs, body modifications
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexuality, sex, desire
  • Consciousness and intelligence

Decolonizing posthumanism

  • Indigenous cosmologies
  • Afrofuturisms
  • Indigenous futurisms
  • Posthumanism and the Black Radical Tradition
  • Beyond decolonization as metaphor

Posthuman technologies

  • Neither technophobia nor technophilia
  • Ecology as technology
  • Computing, robotics, cyberspace
  • Mobile technologies
  • Biomimicry
  • Transhumanism, singularity, immortality

Posthumans, home and community

  • (Anti-) posthumanism in intentional, religious and utopian communities
  • Cyberspace and online communities
  • Beyond the (nuclear) family
  • New territories: posthumans in space, under the sea…

Extrapolations, fictions, visions

  • Novels, short stories, poetry, comics
  • Computer and video games
  • Music
  • Film and television
  • Art (visual, digital, plastic, sound, participatory…)
  • Apps and locative media

The political economy of posthumanism

  • Capitalist posthumanisms
  • Post-capitalist, socialist and communist posthumanisms
  • Gendered, racialized and classed work
  • Posthumanism through/within/against/beyond the state
  • Social reproduction and care work
  • Automation and its discontents

Posthumanism and the state

  • Military posthumanisms
  • Posthuman colonialism
  • Police and state violence
  • Law, justice and posthumanism
  • Posthuman rights/post ‘human rights’

Posthuman ecologies

  • Posthumans in/as ecology
  • The anthropocene, capitalocene, plantationocene, ctulhucene, homogenocene…
  • Beyond the nature/culture divide
  • Non-Western ecologies

Posthuman cosmologies

  • Posthumanism and religion
  • Spirits, deities, ghosts, demons, angels
  • Posthumanism as/after postmodernity

Spatializing the Posthuman

  • Posthumanism Cities
  • Posthuman Architecture
  • Posthuman Interiors
  • Posthuman Domesticity

Proposal Deadline

Please send proposals to utopiaafterthehuman@gmail.com by midnight (UTC) Monday 23rd January, 2017.

Special journal issues

The Imaginaries of the Future: Historicizing the Present network is producing four special issues of the open access Open Library of Humanities journal. These will feature versions of papers presented at our six symposia. There is no obligation to publish, but we hope that many presenters will consider submitting a paper for consideration.

Costs and Bursaries

There is no cost to present at Utopia After the Human. Lunches and refreshments will be provided.

In addition, we are pleased to offer three bursaries of up to £350 and two of up to £1000. These can be used to reclaim costs accrued through travel, food and accommodation (regrettably, bursaries cannot be paid in advance). We particularly welcome applications for these from people of colour, people from indigenous backgrounds, women and other gendered minorities, those whose gender identities do not conform to hegemonic gendered norms, and disabled people.

To apply for a bursary please include the following with your proposal:

  • An estimation of your costs for the trip and details of any other sources of funding available to you.
  • A mini-CV (maximum two sides A4) or a brief account of any information pertinent to your application (maximum one side of A4). This might include information on current, former or future projects (academic, artistic, activist, literary, etc.).

If you have any queries about any aspect of this call please email david.bell@ncl.ac.uk.

Pictures (in random order): ‘Posthuman Structure III’ by Abominable (link); ‘Hello Girls’ in a manual call centre (link); cover of Accessing the Future: A Disability-Themed Anthology of Speculative Fiction (link); extract from ‘Sock it 2 Me’ video by Missy Elliott (link); ‘Cyborg’ by Lynn Randolph (link); ‘Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face’ by Zach Blas (link); Physarum polycephalum slime mold (link); ‘We Have Come Back for Our Bodies’ by Louis Esmé (link); ‘Flower Series: End Humanity, Utopia Now’ by Jake Kent (link).

Utopia at the Border: Programme and Photos

We’re delighted to share with you the programme from the recent Utopia at the Border symposium at the University of Regensburg: the fourth of our six symposia exploring utopianism and thinking-about-the-future.

Borders have received little consideration from within utopian studies, whilst there is an understandable reticence among many of those who study (and struggle against) borders to think in terms of utopia. As an initial consideration of what utopia(nism) might have to offer those working with/against borders; and how theorizing the border might enhance utopian studies we were extremely pleased with the outcome of the symposium and have decided to dedicate one of our four special Open Library of Humanities special issues to the theme of ‘Utopia at the Border’. This will contain papers from the symposium, but if you’d be interested in contributing something please do get in touch.

The below photographs were taken by Utopia at the Border participant Henry Daniel, to whom we are extremely grateful.

The call for contributions for our next symposium, to be held at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, will be published in mid November. Watch this space!

Utopia at the Border: Call for Contributions

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We’re delighted to announce the call for contributions for the network’s fourth symposium, which will interrogate the relationship between utopia(nism) and borders. Papers, interventions, workshops, performances or exhibits from any discipline (academic or otherwise) are welcome. The symposium will be free to attend and a number of bursaries are available. The full call is below and is available here [pdf]. A large print version is here [pdf].

UTOPIA AT THE BORDER
The fourth symposium of the Imaginaries of the Future Research Network
University of Regensburg, 20-22nd September 2016

‘There was a wall. It did not look important…’ – Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed

‘[We seek]…a world without borders, where no one is prevented from moving because of where you were born, or because of race, class or economic resources…’ – No Borders UK

‘We resolve…to strengthen control over our territories and to not permit the entry of any government functionary nor of a single transnational corporation.’ – The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador

Borders are a key feature of our present. Whether national, regional, physical, electronic, cognitive, performative or cultural, they unevenly regulate the movement of bodies, ideas, objects, capital and bytes. Geopolitical borders are frequently sites of domination, but they may also provide solace for oppressed groups, some of whom actively call for or construct borders so they might protect their ways of living and advance their struggles. Conceptual borders allow us to grasp a complex world, but may inhibit understanding, communication and change. Temporal borders, meanwhile, seek to fix history into discrete categories of past, present and future.

Yet borders are not permanent. They remain a key site of contestation and struggle; and must continually be remade through technology, performance and often violence. And border crossings transform subjects, the space-times they leave, and the space-times they enter; as well as borders themselves. This means that utopianism – praxis that seeks to transform space and time – has much to offer contemporary ways of relating to borders. It can educate our desire for alternatives, and by showing us these alternatives – in fiction, theory or practice – estrange us from borders as they currently exist. The need for utopian rethinking and contestation of borders strikes us as particularly urgent given the current refugee crisis in Europe, and the continued role of borders in neocolonial dispossession around the world. Yet whilst a utopian lens may have much to offer the thinking and practice of borders this does not mean that the utopian is without borders of its own. Indeed, despite a turn to ‘the horizon’ and process in recent utopian theory, borders play a key role in many fictional utopias and dystopias; in ‘real world’ utopian communities; and in definitions of utopia itself.

Utopia at the Border aims to consider the relationship between borders and the utopian. Borders are to be critically examined even as participants question their own relationships to borders through their work and travel. We would also like to think through what is gained and lost by extending the notion of borders beyond the geopolitical. We welcome papers of up to 20 minutes and are open to artistic or activist contributions; as well as to interventions that fall between or go beyond such boundaries. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this informally before submitting a proposal, or if you would like to take up more than 20 minutes.  A special issue of the Open Library of the Humanities journal will be produced drawing on presentations from the symposium. This will form part of the Imaginaries of the Future publication series.

Papers may engage with one or more of the following aspects of borders, although this is by no means an exhaustive list:

The borders of utopia and dystopia

  • Borders in utopian and dystopian texts
  • The borders of utopian communities
  • Anti-borders utopianism in theory, fiction and practice

Colonialism, decolonization, Indigeneity and borders

  • Colonial border construction and praxis
  • Reservations
  • Indigenous borders
  • New and future borders: Antarctica, under the sea, extraterrestrial?

(Anti-)border technologies and practices

  • Passports
  • Walls, fences, barricades
  • Raids, detention and deportation
  • Metrics and biometrics
  • Anti-borders activism

(Refusing) temporal borders

  • The division of time into past, present and future
  • Spatial borders as temporal borders
  • Spatial history
  • The ‘not-yet’, the immanent, the prefigurative

Borders, identity and the body

  • Borders, race and racialization
  • Non-conforming bodies at the border
  • Affect at the border
  • Mestiza and cross-border identities

Public space, the commons and enclosure

  • Borders and the commons
  • Gated communities
  • Border technologies in urban space
  • Vertical borders
  • Barricades

Cross border (non-) communication

  • Online borders
  • Disciplinary and conceptual borders
  • Censorship and gate-keeping
  • Communication technologies and border activism

More-than-human/non-human borders

  • Non-humans at the border
  • Finance, goods and trade
  • Wilderness, nature and ecology
  • Chemical, biological and physical borders/boundaries

Art of the border; art at the border; art against the border

  • The architecture and aesthetics of (former) border crossings
  • Artistic performance and representation of/at borders, their crossings and their refusals
  • Passport design

Beyond borders

  • Non-state space; the state of exception
  • Necropolitics and the border
  • Exile and statelessness
  • International waters

Struggles with and against borders

  • Fortress Europe and the migrant crisis
  • Border struggles and crossings in history, religion and myth
  • Smuggling

Borders and labour

  • Freedom of movement and ‘the career’
  • Borders and divisions of labour
  • University staff as border agents

Cost
There is no fee to attend the symposium. Lunches and refreshments will be provided during the days of the symposium.

Bursaries
Five bursaries – two of up to £1,000, and three of up to £350 – will be awarded through open competition to individuals who wish to contribute to the symposium. These can be used to cover food, travel and accommodation costs, but can only be reclaimed after the symposium upon production of receipts. The larger bursaries are intended for applicants traveling a significant distance to attend the symposium. We welcome submissions from all academic career stages, as well as from non academics. Bursary recipients will be expected to contribute a piece of writing and/or media for the Network blog. If you would like to apply for a bursary please clearly state this with your proposal, and state whether you are applying for up to £350 or up to £1,000. Please also attach a CV (if a CV is not appropriate to convey the experiences you would draw on in presenting, please email david.bell@ncl.ac.uk before applying).

Proposals
Please send proposals (up to 300 words) to nathaniel.coleman@ncl.ac.uk, david.bell@ncl.ac.uk and kenneth.hanshew@sprachlit.uni-regensburg.de. Please indicate in your email if you would be interested in contributing to the special journal issue, which would have a deadline in spring 2017. The deadline for proposals is midnight (BST) on Sunday June 12th

If you have any questions about this call please email david.bell@ncl.ac.uk.