Rethinking Utopian Studies
DOI link for Rethinking Utopian Studies
Rethinking Utopian Studies book
This chapter explores the inter-disciplinary, academic field of 'utopian studies'. It traces out positions, debates, disagreements and nuances in the field in order to provide context, inspiration and space for the development of 'an affective understanding of utopianism'. Utopia is commonly understood as a place that claims to have fulfilled a predetermined form of political organization. Bill Ashcroft, meanwhile, argues that as a result of Western utopianism's role in the construction of the nation state and colonialism, postcolonialism creates 'a utopianism almost completely devoid of utopias'. Its 'utopian impulse… is not to construct a place', and utopia is 'a certain kind of praxis rather than a specific mode of representation'In order to trace how place is often sidelined or disavowed in utopian studies, this chapter outlines three (very) broad tendencies within the contemporary field: a focus on utopia's function, which often spills over into understanding utopia as function; utopia(nism) as temporality; utopianism as prefigurative practice.