UPDATE: [International] Comparative Utopias: Final CFP

full name / name of organization: 
Jacqueline Dutton
contact email: 


Intercultural Imaginaries of the Ideal: East-West Comparative Utopias
7 December 2007
Monash University, Australia

Utopia and utopianism are perceived to be primarily Western constructs -
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 - 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 practices.

The aim of these special sessions on ComparativeUtopias 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
ComparativeUtopias 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 - 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 - 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 : jld_at_unimelb.edu.au <mailto:jld_at_unimelb.edu.au>.
Your message should include your name, contact details, institutional
affiliation and discipline.

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Received on Fri Oct 19 2007 - 02:13:49 EDT