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Call for Participation: “Political Uses of Utopia” workshop, York University, Toronto, 9-10 October 2012


york_universitWe are seeking 6 junior scholars (advanced doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty) to participate in a two-day workshop on the uses of utopia for politics, to be held at York University in Toronto, October 9-10, 2012.

The workshop will consider how utopian thought can enrich political reflection in general and political theory in particular. In postwar English language political theory, utopia has tended to be associated with the totalitarian political projects of the first half of the twentieth century – an association from which it has never really recovered.

Even today, when popular political movements in Canada and around the world express longings for social and political futures that differ radically from the status quo, rallying behind the banner “Another World Is Possible,” their desires find little resonance in political theory, which has shut itself off from one of the richest resources for thinking about how such a future can be imagined.

The workshop will be an intensive, thematically focused two-day session featuring scholars representing different traditions and perspectives within political theory. Our goal is to explore in a focused manner what the idea of utopia and different forms of utopianism can contribute to political theory and philosophy across different traditions, including liberalism, radical democracy, anarchism, Marxism, Critical Theory, environmentalism, and feminism. To this end we are inviting six leading international scholars, together with six emerging scholars, to lead a discussion with students and faculty from local universities as well as a more general public on the different possibilities for thinking utopia politically.

On each of the workshop’s two days, three sessions will held during the day at York University in Toronto. The first two will be introduced by papers by leading scholars in different subfields of political theory, to be followed by questions from the audience. The third, afternoon session will be launched by a panel in which the presenters will be joined by three emerging scholars; together, they will seek to engage the audience in a more general discussion of the themes that have arisen so far. In order to facilitate involvement, we will circulate texts in advance – both those of the featured speakers as well as seminal texts in the field – both by email among the participants and more broadly by means of a website constructed for this purpose. Each day will then culminate in a public lecture by a senior political theorist whose work on utopia has not yet attained the attention it deserves within English-language political theory. These lectures, featuring scholars whose influence and reputations extend well beyond political theory and utopian studies, will be held in downtown Toronto.

The lasting result of the workshop will be an edited volume consisting of essays by our presenters and participants, as well as translations of seminal articles from French and German that have so far escaped attention in English.

We are looking, above all, for individuals with a demonstrated interest in utopia and a critical perspective complementing those of our speakers. Selection will be made on this basis.  We will likely be in a position to cover travel and accommodation expenses. If you wish to be considered for participation, please send your CV and statement of interest to Sylwia Chrostowska at  Este endereço de e-mail está protegido contra spambots. Você deve habilitar o JavaScript para visualizá-lo.

Please note also that the workshop directly follows the annual conference of the Society for Utopian Studies, to be held this year at the Delta Chelsea in downtown Toronto, October 4–7, 2012. While we are not affiliated with the Society, we expect there to be a certain overlap between the two events.


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Managed by/Sous la direction de: Centre d'analyse des politiques publiques (CAPP)Département de Science Politique, Université Laval. Québec, Québec, Canada

Moderator / Animateur: Sébastien Lévesque Tél.: (1) 418-265-5130

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Mihaela Mihai
Postdoctoral Fellow
Centre for Social Studies
University of Coimbra
Colégio de S. Jerónimo
Apartado 3087
3001–401 Coimbra

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