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Robert Chapman : Utopianism in the Twenty-First Century

Robert Chapman Lecture, Utopianism in the Twenty-First Century

25 August, 2014

Professor Lucy Sargisson of the University of Nottingham will debate the pros and cons of Utopianism at this year’s University of Auckland Robert Chapman Lecture.

In her lecture, “Utopianism in the Twenty-First Century” she will describe how utopianism is about the good life and how utopians criticise the present and seek better alternatives.

“Utopianism is everywhere. But we rarely talk about it inside the discipline of political science. I will argue that utopianism is both essential and dangerous for twenty-first century politics, society and life. Without it, politics lacks vision and becomes a matter of routine management and administration.

“But not all utopian thinking leads us towards the good life and utopianism can be politically toxic, in a variety of ways. My lecture will examine this paradoxical situation.”
Drawing on examples including architecture, religious thought, intentional communities, film and literature, the lecture will identify a number of different and competing utopian impulses at work and play in the twenty-first century. Some of these impulses are hierarchical and some are egalitarian, some are totalising and some are open-ended, some are escapist while others are profoundly engaged and transformative of everyday life.

Professor Sargisson is a Professor of Utopian Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK. She is the author of four books and numerous articles on the topic of political utopianism. Her books include Fools Gold? Utopianism in the Twenty First Century (2012), Contemporary Feminist Utopianism (1996) and, co-authored with Lyman Tower Sargent, Living in Utopia: New Zealand’s Intentional Communities (2004). Lucy is a pioneer and advocate for the study of utopianism in the human sciences. Her work crosses the disciplines of political, sociological and literary studies.

The 2014 Robert Chapman Lecture takes place at 6.30pm on Thursday 28 August at the Maidment Theatre, Alfred Street, University of Auckland.

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