CFP: Intercultural Imaginaries of the Ideal: East-West Comparative Utopias (Australia) (no deadline noted; 12/7/07)

full name / name of organization: 

Intercultural Imaginaries of the Ideal: East-West Comparative Utopias

7 December 2007

Monash University

Utopia and utopianism are perceived to be primarily Western constructs â€"

Western dreams of a better world, an ideal existence or a fantastic

future. And it is true that the definitions, design and development of

utopian literatures and theories have emerged from Western examples of

the genre. Almost all cultures have foundation stories or myths

expressing an avatar of the Golden Age, such as the Garden of Eden in a

Judeo-Christian perspective or the Dreamtime in the Australian Aboriginal

worldview or the Pure Land of Eternal Happiness in ancient Indian

Buddhism, but whether or not there is concurrent or subsequent

development of utopian writings and practices in these cultures is still

a subject of debate. Until recently, much of the scholarship on the

subject has privileged the Western model of utopia, and it has been

proposed that the only country outside the West to produce a real and

ongoing utopian tradition is China. However, there is substantial

evidence to suggest that most cultures generate â€" if not utopias

corresponding to the Western design - then at least some representations

of an imaginary ideal place or time that do reflect similar

preoccupations to those observed in Western utopian writings and


The aim of these special sessions on Comparative Utopias is to identify

generic tendencies as well as fundamental divergences in imagining the

ideal society across various cultural contexts. We invite proposals from

scholars who are working in utopian studies, but would also welcome

contributions from researchers in comparative mythology, cultural

anthropology, area studies, philosophy, comparative religions, indigenous

histories and any other relevant areas. Following on from the Comparative

Utopias workshop held at the University of Melbourne in December 2005, we

would like to extend the East-West focus of our investigations to include

expressions of imaginary societies and projections from a wider range of

cultures, such as African, Caribbean, Islamic, Indian, Russian and

Indigenous cultures of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and the

Americas. We will also continue to explore non-Western utopian

projections from Japan and China, as well as looking further to Cambodia,

Vietnam, Thailand and beyond for examples.

Some suggestions for panels or workshops:

Archetypal Utopias â€" including those grounded in oral histories, popular

folklore, mythologies, religious texts

Utopia and Science Fiction - including futuristic fiction

(Re)defining “utopia” or the imaginary of the ideal society â€" for

broader application to cross-cultural examples, or with a particular

focus on certain cultures

Comparative chronologies of the development of the model for the ideal


Philosophical Utopias

Political Utopias

Social Utopias

It is envisaged that most papers will be of 20 minutes duration, but

proposals for workshop and round table discussions are also welcome.

Selected papers will be solicited for publication in a volume to be

edited by Gregory Claeys, Jacqueline Dutton and Lyman Tower Sargent.

Please send a 200 word abstract by email to Dr Jacqueline Dutton,

University of Melbourne : <>.

Your message should include your name, contact details, institutional

affiliation and discipline.

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Received on Fri Apr 06 2007 - 17:00:48 EDT