International Institute for Asian Studies

November
15
2017

Call for papers

Urban Utopias: Memory, Rights, and Speculation

Workshop date: 21 February 2018, 9-17, Sweelinckzaal, Utrecht University (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Submission deadline: 15 November 2017

Utopia articulates dreams of a better life and anticipations of the future; as social dreaming, utopia combines communal and imaginative experimentation. Even if the word is invented in Europe in 1516 by More, utopia has manifestations in all inhabited continents. Utopia manifests itself in the city, across the world. Scholars such as David Harvey and David Pinder have advocated our retaining a critical utopian perspective in relation to the urban,  in imagining alternatives and dreaming of better worlds. The memory of urban utopia, past utopias that still inspire and resonate, haunt our imagination. Reconfigurations of the past often help to constitute utopian urban visions of the future.  A heuristic, speculative, mobile approach to cultural texts (literature, film, art, other texts) capturing these phenomena can help us understand better the shifting layers and many kinds of movements, in the plural sites of  the urban, in an uneven, globalized world and earlier in the colonial and precolonial periods. We are looking for papers that focus on Asia or Europe or both and allow for a comparative approach with a focus that could be on any aspects of the intersection of utopia, memory, and the urban. Rights (human, environmental and animal) and the domain of speculative arts (science fiction, dystopia, utopia) are also relevant subjects in this workshop. Scholars from the Comparative Literature research group at Utrecht University participating in this workshop will be presenting a number of papers on South Asia and South-East Asia-related subjects, as will Professor Abhijit Gupta (Jadavpur University, India), but we very much welcome foci on other parts of Asia and on Europe. We plan an edited monograph from this workshop.

Please send abstracts of 300 words and a biographical note of the same length (for the workshop digital brochure) by 15 November 2017 to B.Bagchi@uu.nl. The Workshop Committee consists of Dr Barnita Bagchi, Dr Paul Bijl, and Dr Deborah Cole, Department of Languages, Literature, and Communication, Utrecht University.