Review of Twoty-Twoty-Two (2022): Utopian Studies Conference

Photograph of utopian studies conference venue at University of Brighton
Conference venue: University of Brighton

The thing that took me farthest out of my comfort zone in 2022 was attending the Utopian Studies Society conference. I thought it would be nice to have a few days away to discuss all things utopian but I was wrong. I stretched my elastic too far just to get there. It was my first time travelling on my own and travelling much at all since the pandemic and having a child (both things that have tied me to home over the past few years). Having to then leave my room and attend events was so hard. This is despite my room (in student halls) being unbearably hot and depressing.

Yes, this was another USS conference in a heatwave, like the previous one in Prato, Italy in 2019 where we discussed utopia, dystopia and climate change in 40 degree heat (Celcius, folks). Just the thing to make discussions feel urgent and hopeless at the same time.

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& Utopia lecture series: David M. Bell review

Screenshot of David Bell &Utopia online lecture

David Bell’s &Utopia lecture ‘Utopia: Another End of the World is Possible’, recorded on 28 October 2021, is now available online. The lecture energises despite (or perhaps because of?) a focus on the apocalypse.

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The Decolonial Thought

Although I can’t entirely articulate it yet, I have started to think the decolonial thought. Put crudely, the decolonial thought is along the lines of:

Our prevailing understanding of our culture and history has been shaped at every level by white settlor men and it is beyond time to start listening to somebody (everybody) else.”

The decolonial thought - prompted in me by the toppling of Colston's statue in Bristol, now on display in a museum.
Colston’s statue on display at M Shed, Bristol. The coverage of the Black Lives Matter protest in my home city of Bristol one year ago (during which the statue was toppled) first prompted me to have the decolonial thought.
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Hey Thomas, what’s with the slaves in Utopia?

Recently, I stumbled across a cartoon about Thomas More’s Utopia on Existential Comics. More is telling a crowd all the good stuff about Utopia. He’s winning them over with a six hour working day and leaders chosen by the people to rule in their best interests. But he starts losing them when he reveals there’s no boozing and no fancy clothes.

To spice things up a bit, he comes out with:

Wait, what? There still slaves in Utopia?
Detail from Thomas More’s Utopia
https://existentialcomics.com/comic/382
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North America: a failing colonialist utopia?

Pandemic. Wild fires. Climate crisis. Biodiversity crisis. Rise of the far right. Sometimes, it seems like things aren’t going so well.

I heard an Indigenous viewpoint on the multiple crises facing North America (and the world) from scholar Dr Kim TallBear at the ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) Nearly Carbon Neutral virtual conference in July 2020. It was enlightening, perspective-shifting stuff. I want to share with you some of the thoughts that have stayed with me ever since.

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