Utopia without Future

Utopian thinking seems to have been largely absent from both political debate and literature since the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent historical events such as 9/11 and the financial crisis in 2007–8. Indeed, several people have even proclaimed the end of history and the death of utopian thinking. Rather than simply accept this interpretation, the Utopia without Future research project asks which utopian impulses seem to have developed nevertheless in the literature of the new millennium, a period of genuine crisis in political and social perceptions of the future.

The project is based on the assumption that utopia has not disappeared and that it is legitimate to talk about “persistent utopia” as the French philosopher Miguel Abensour does. In literary terms, it has simply assumed a number of new forms that are no longer, as it were, tied to the future. The utopian literature we analyse – primarily from Scandinavia and North America – is less interested in inventing new and alternative societies to strive for than it is in producing new ambiences and communities in the here and now. The project will contribute to ongoing discussions – public as well as academic – of the relationship between aesthetics, critique and political commitment. It will also contribute to the development of new methods of literary text analysis at the intersection between political philosophy, affect theory and comparative literature.

Tue Andersen NexøAssociate professor  E-mail