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Workshop Urban Utopias: Memory, Rights, and Speculation


On 21 and 22 February there will be a workshop on 'Urban Utopias: Memory, Rights, and Speculation'.

Dreams of a better life and future

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.

Memory of urban utopia

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. 

Comparative approach

Papers in this workshop lasting 1.5 days focus on Asia or Europe or both and allow for a comparative approach with a focus on any aspects of the intersection of utopia, memory, and the urban. Rights and the domain of speculative arts (science fiction, dystopia, utopia) are also relevant subjects in this workshop.


Speakers and chairs include Barnita Bagchi (Utrecht University), Paul Bijl (Utrecht University and KITLV), Lawrence Chua (Syracuse University), Deborah Cole (Utrecht University), Abhijit Gupta (Jadavpur University), Dan Hassler-Forest (Utrecht University), Birgit Kaiser (Utrecht University), Esha Niyogi De (University of California, Los Angeles), Ann Rigney (Utrecht University), Rakhshan Rizwan (Utrecht University), Tim Verlaan (University of Amsterdam), and Maja Vodopivec (Leiden University).

Practical information

The first day the workshop will take place from 9.00 to 17.00 at the Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21, Utrecht and the second day from 9.30 to 12.30 at the Ravenstijnzaal, Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Utrecht.

Start date and time
End date and time

You are welcome to attend this workshop by registering with