Workshop looks at political uses of utopia

Utopia and its political uses will be the topic of discussion at an upcoming workshop this week that will draw speakers from London, Ireland, Paris and the United States.

The “Political Uses of Utopia” workshop will take place April 18 and 19 at various locations at York’s Keele campus, beginning at 9am both days. The workshop is free and UtopiaWorkshopopen to the public, except for the reception following the keynote address.

Starting from different approaches within political theory, the speakers will discuss how the utopian tradition can best be made productive for critical political thought and action today.

York University humanities Professor Sylwia Chrostowska will introduce the workshop. The keynote lecture will be delivered by Étienne Tassin, a political theorist at the University of Paris 7, followed by a reception. Tassin’s talk, titled “Desire and Shipwreck: Powers of the Vis Utopia”, will be on April 18 at 5pm in EtienneTassinVerney Room, 674 South Ross Building, Keele campus.

Étienne Tassin

Some of the other speakers will include: Vincent Geoghegan of Queens University of Belfast, who will discuss “Marcuse and the ‘Christian bourgeois concept of freedom’”; Peter Hallward of Kingston University, London, who will look at “General Will or General Wish? Rousseau, Marx”; and Benjamin McKean of the University of Chicago will examine “Ideal Theory After Auschwitz? The Practical Uses and Ideological Abuses of Utopian Thought in Rawls and Adorno”.

The concluding discussion on day two will be moderated by Meghan Helsel of Johns Hopkins, Chris Holman of SUNY Stony Brook and Ella Street of the University of Toronto.

The event is hosted by Founders College and sponsored through a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada grant, as well as York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Canadian Centre for German & European Studies, Founders College, the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the departments of political science and humanities, and the Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought.

For more information and a detailed program, visit the Political Uses of Utopia website.