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This article argues that international law and the literature of civil war, specifically the narratives from the Philippine communist insurgency, present two visions of the child. On the one hand, international law constructs a child that is individual and vulnerable, a victim of violence trapped between the contending parties. Hence, the child is a person who needs to be insulated from the brutality of the civil war. On the other hand, the article reads Filipino writer Kris Montañez’s stories as revolutionary tales that present a rational child, a literary resolution of the dilemmas of a minor’s participation in the world’s longest-running communist insurgency. Indeed, the short narratives collected in Kabanbanuagan (Youth) reveal a tension between a minor’s right to resist in the context of the people’s war and the juridical right to be insulated from the violence. As their youthful bodies are thrown into the world of the state of exception, violence forces children to make the choice of active participation in the hostilities by symbolically and literally assuming the roles played by their elders in the narrative. The article concludes that while this narrative resolution appears to offer a realistic representation and closure, what it proffers is actually a utopian vision that is in tension with international law’s own utopian vision of children. Thus, international law and the stories of youth in Kabanbanuagan provide a powerful critique of each other’s utopian visions.
Climate change undermines the property concepts embedded within histories of capitalism and colonialism, placing them in crisis. As Arctic territories and Pacific island states recede to sea level rise, as wildfires burn through suburban communities in the wealthy world, as global fresh water runs dry, uncertainty shadows what it means to own, to use, and to inhabit. For the wealthier world, survival may depend on owning and occupying less, upon reducing the scale of supply chains and stewarding regional resources. Enter "the commons,” a concept and praxis tied to sustainability in the form of stable subsistence in anthropological literatures, to Indigenous economies and cosmologies worldwide, and to European peasant economies. For the world’s Indigenous, the concept may be, at best, an incomplete translation of Indigenous traditional knowledges. Yet the commons as concept attempts to combat extractive, colonial economies, offering a justice-oriented and site-specific alternative to the state and the market as organizing systems and stories. This chapter considers the dynamic intellectual history of the commons as it relates to climate change, environmentalism and decolonization.
Sophie Hackford explores the idea that the way that computers see the world is becoming our dominant reality. The idea that a physical object, and its data ‘exhaust’, are in constant dialogue with each other. As machine autonomy creeps into our everyday lives, we are creating a physical internet, where people, objects, vehicles move as seamlessly in the real world as data moves around the internet. Digital bots or ‘agents’ might represent us in interactions with our banks, friends, colleagues. Autonomous companies might soon be big players in the economy. Hackford will explore a world where human and machine ‘vision’ will collaborate, compete and even merge together.
Cities are often the sites of apocalyptic ruptures, and more often than not, urban locations operate as spaces to flee after everything has gone sideways. Yet the city is more than a place to flee; the city –– in its predisaster moment –– already offers innovative and creative forms of community in everyday life that already speak to a potential for radically different modes for living. This chapter focuses on the tension between the apocalyptic as a stage for imagining a future world that reproduces more of the same and the apocalyptic that opens a space for actually reimagining the future is crucial to Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (2017). Two particular attributes make New York 2140 a crucial text in the post-apocalyptic genre, its dismissal of nostalgia for the pre-apocalyptic world and its thinking at multiple scales.
Scholars of Wallace Stevens have variously represented him as a crafter of poetic utopias, a skeptic of utopian thinking, and a champion of utopian material sufficiency. Mao’s chapter adds to the picture by showing how, in his poetry of the late 1930s and early 1940s, Stevens situates leaders and movements impelled by visions of ideal futures within a conception of political life as an ongoing struggle for dominance between ideas. Reading texts such as “Owl’s Clover,” “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” and “Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas” in relation to Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia and Max Lerner’s Ideas Are Weapons, the chapter shows that Stevens’s view of history as an interplay of imagination and reality partook of important currents in interwar intellectual life.
The contemporary pertinence of green utopianism in its myriad manifestations lies in its trenchant critiques of the ecological deficiencies of the present and its imaginative projections of more ethical modes of human–animal–nature relationality. The extant climate and ecological crisis demands a radical rethink of how we relate to the non-human world. Thus, drawing largely on green utopian and posthuman theory, this chapter features critical assessments of human–non-human relations as depicted in four canonical ecotopian literary texts: Aldous Huxley’s Island (2009), Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge (1990) and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985). The extent to which the works deconstruct traditional human/nature dualisms and hierarchies is explored and discussed in depth. The chapter concludes with ruminations on potentially ethical modes of relationship that move beyond hierarchical and antagonistic structurings of ‘otherness’ and incorporate reverence and respect for irreducible alterity.
Political issues that had been consciously ignored or downplayed in Stoppard’s earlier work emerge strongly in the later plays. Topics like ideology formation and the philosophical frameworks of political commitment form the explicit subject of his epic Coast of Utopia trilogy, which traces Russian thought in the century before that country’s Communist revolution and lie underneath much of Leopoldstadt as well.
This chapter engages with Asian American utopian narrative forms as a heuristic for naming the contradictory subjects, spaces, and temporalities that emerge from competing visions of emancipation in the post-1990s period. In the wake of cultural nationalisms of earlier decades, and in a moment of neoliberal utopianism that hailed the end of the Cold War as the “achievement” of universal “Western liberal democracy,” women of color feminists critiqued cultural nationalism and the neoliberal utopian pursuit of a knowable subject and endpoint. The project of the liberal individual subject, they illuminate, elides racialized, gendered, and sexual difference for emancipatory projects. Demanding alternative accounts of freedom, Asian American feminists called for “subjectless” and “collective” politics. This chapter explores how this theoretical shift coincides with Asian American writers underscoring the paradoxes of utopian forms, as producing logics of domination and freedom. Through Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex (2005) and Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel (2010), this chapter rethinks Aztlán and the I-Hotel as galvanizing utopian forces for the Chicano and Asian American movements. Rather than abandoning utopia, Yamashita and Foster offer the utopian as a contradictory space to challenge the nationalist essentialisms of minority movements and the market individualism of neoliberal capitalism.
Russian literature and culture are topics to which Stoppard has repeatedly returned, from his ongoing critical engagement with revolutionary movements (from Herzen to Lenin and beyond) to his adaptations of Tolstoy and Chekhov.
Chapter 7 considers the interrelation of hunger, appetite and armed resistance to the state. It explores how the initial causes of revolt are represented in these plays, stressing the interrelation of the hunger of the poor with the appetites of the rich. But it also emphasises the degree to which these onstage revolts are represented as processes, which move from depictions of an initial grievance to representation of the appetites which can be unleashed by the act of rebellion. Lastly, it stresses the utopian possibilities of presenting these rebel appetites onstage, arguing that discernible in the most radical of these texts is a proto-communist emphasis on the potential creation of a society in which all are equal. The depiction of hunger, appetite and revolt emerges as the subject of a pronounced interpretative instability, rooted in the legitimation of the contemporary status quo, but permeated, nevertheless, by insurrectionary possibilities.
“Everyday Micro-utopias” recapitulates themes from Climate Change, Literature, and Environmental Justice through an examination of pedagogy as a form of what Rebecca Solnit terms “building paradise” in the classroom. I draw on my experience teaching a class on climate change over the past several years, where my students and I remain in the presence of the unbearable grief of climate change, displacements, relocations, and extinctions. The course is a space to imaginine collective responses to climate change that carve what Nicolas Bourriad calls “micro-utopias” within the status quo. I offer a notated syllabus with readings, assignment notes, and the narrative that binds the course together. In the final pages of the epilogue, I turn to N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth speculative trilogy, which imagines revolutions of the enslaved that end the world and make possible a new beginning anchored in the archeology of past insurrection.
Critically examining the eugenic and utopian underpinnings of central narrative frameworks in climate change discourse, this chapter argues that our imagination of the future requires different forms of engagement with the past. I interrogate the rhetoric of collapse and look at two primary climate narratives, “the lifeboat” and “the collective,” which engage both eugenic ideologies and utopian imaginaries. Through a reading of Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler, the chapter examines how disability theory can disrupt narratives of survival and offer possibilities for thinking through the defamiliarization of place, bodies, and identities under climate disruption. In the final section, I turn to Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016) and Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain (1988). I argue that Whitehead’s and Bisson’s speculative histories are revolutionary acts of memory, reimagining history in ways that shift the trajectories of shared futures.
Imagine a proposal for legal reform aiming to simplify and clarify property law, which recommends the adoption of two simple rules. The first rule prescribes that owners have an in rem right to exclude. The second empowers owners (if more than one) contractually to set up their own governance regime. This bill would obviously be radically incomplete, but is that all that is wrong with it? We could think of convenient additions, but is there anything fundamentally necessary still missing for this bill to constitute at least the core of a property regime in a liberal polity?
It has often been suggested that the human rights politics of the late 1970s intended ‘not to open the gates of paradise, but to bolt the gates of hell’.1 This conception of human rights as protections against ‘the worst’ was bound up with a reassessment of revolutionary politics as, at best, hubristic folly, and, at worst, totalitarian. As Soviet dissidents embraced the language of human rights to campaign against the Soviet state, a new NGO-led human rights politics came to express a realist rejection of revolutionary utopias.2 This human rights politics renounced the revolutionary aspirations of the communist left, while marginalising even the social-democratic ideals that had informed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ social and economic rights. Epitomising this divorce of human rights from more expansive visions of social and economic justice, Michael Ignatieff suggested in 2001 that the ‘elemental priority of all human rights activism’ should be to mitigate suffering by preventing torture, beatings, killings, rape and assault. Ignatieff argued for prioritising the civil and political rights of a ‘capitalist rights tradition’ against what he framed as a ‘Communist rights tradition – which put primacy on economic and social rights’.
Chapter five examines the work of American writer, lecturer, and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. While not a children’s author per se, Gilman foregrounded motherhood and childcare in her polemical works and her fiction. She also included unexpected borrowings from New Thought in her novels and life writing. For instance, Gilman’s utopian novel Herland (1915), which appeared serially in her self-published Forerunner Magazine (1909–1916), resonates with Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (first edition 1875). Gilman's all-female utopia, in which parthenogenesis has replaced sexual reproduction, resembles Eddy's imagined future in which “there will be no more marrying nor giving in marriage” and women and men will increasingly resemble one another in body and mind. The Herlanders’ worship of a loving “Mother Spirit,” their reverence for maternity, and their practice of communal child-rearing likewise mirror Eddy's androgynous “Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” and her emphasis on maternal feeling. Herland thus fulfills Eddy's millennial predictions as well as Gilman's feminist ideals.
This article critically examines how solidarity has been enacted in the first 2 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly, but not exclusively, from a United Kingdom perspective.1 Solidaristic strategies are framed in two ways: aspirations to overcome COVID-19 (utopian anthropocentric solidarity); and those that are illusory, incompatible, contradictory, and disrupting of solidaristic ideals (heterotopian solidarity). Solidarity can also be understood more widely from a biocentric perspective (solidarity with all life). In the context of COVID-19 a lack of biocentric solidarity points to a probable cause of the pandemic; where COVID-19, harmless in bats, jumped species as a consequence of closer contact with humans. Solidarity, therefore, is not only expressed in a fight against a viral “enemy” but is also a reminder of human activity that has upset balances within ecosystems.
There are three problems with Anglo-American twenty-first century feminist dystopian imaginings: a lack of critical dystopias, that is, texts that carefully balance utopia and dystopia in order to retain political motivational power; the imaginative exploitation of female suffering for commercial gain, in particular the commodification of Black pain; and, a lack of critical distance from reality. This chapter considers how feminist critical dystopias might be reimagined from an intersectional twenty-first-century perspective, both theoretically and through literary criticism. Darko Suvin’s theory of science fiction identifies the necessity of estrangement, and of balancing utopia and dystopia to retain the politically motivating power of critique. The chapter interrogates Suvin’s concept of the ‘zero world’ from a feminist perspective, suggesting that contemporary feminist critical dystopias might be most empowered and empowering if mapped in relation to the (almost) universal zero world of women not in power. The second section comprises an analysis of Naomi Alderman’s The Power (2016) as an example of a contemporary feminist dystopia that performs these theoretical requirements.
Important scholarship in International Relations (IR) theory engages with the utopian tradition in order to render it ‘realistic’, whereby ‘failed’ utopian projects become necessarily unrealistic, and anti-political. The paper suggests such scholarship is informed by a narrow chronotic register, and a dichotomous ontology of chronos and kairos derived in part from the work of Karl Mannheim and E.H. Carr. As such, utopian scholarship in IR constructs a self-reinforcing relationship between change and realism, whereby only ‘realistic’ interventions can affect normatively desirable change, and therefore only interventions that are possible under current social and political conditions are normatively desirable. Drawing on the idea that the quest for utopia must always fail, the paper suggests that IR theory should be far more attuned to ‘failure’ than as simply a phenomenon that helps define the boundary between the realistic and unrealistic. The paper draws on non-canonical literatures from utopian studies and anarchism, to furnish an alternative ‘no-point’ form of utopianism that dissolves the chronos/kairos binary and thus engages neither in universalist and violent end-point, nor institutionally compromised ‘mid-range’ utopianism. This acts to reconceptualise ‘failure’ in excess of itself, a productive site for IR scholarship, and a political archive for movements and struggles to learn from.
This chapter asks why Orwell’s novel is so often referred to as a satire even though it lacks, for the most part, the humour that is commonly associated with that mode. It begins by locating Orwell in the ancient tradition of Juvenalian satire, in which moral indignation rather than amusement predominates. It then turns to the more specific tradition of utopian and dystopian satire, in which fictional words are constructed in order to offer a contrast to, or exaggeration of, the present society, with the aim of critiquing existing social and political trends. Laying out a history of dystopia, it examines key works in this tradition – from Thomas More’s Utopia and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels through more recent texts by H. G. Wells, Jack London, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, and others – and their importance as precursors to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Finally, it examines Orwell’s own satiric technique in the novel, both his subtle methods of comic ridicule (generally directed at British apologists for Stalinism) and his more direct attacks on totalitarianism proper, which are woven into the setting and the action of the novel.
This chapter puts Nineteen Eighty-Four in conversation with a literary predecessor who energized Orwell at the very root, H. G. Wells. Considering these two figures side by side, ‘Wells, Orwell, and the Dictator’ thinks, first, about how powerfully Wells had influenced Orwell and, equally, how deeply entangled the two writers were in their consideration of issues around freedom, the state, the individual, and the future. Even if they end up on opposite sides of the spectrum – Wells, a utopian who believed that a united world could leave humanity free, peaceful, and prosperous, and Orwell, an anti-utopian who saw in the trends of the twentieth century an image of humans obliterated by the mechanisms of power – the two share a set of preoccupations about power and the future that motivated their fiction and left a mark on the imaginative life of the twentieth century.