Werkgoep Utopia and Social Dreaming in Connected and Entangled Perspective, 1850 onwards, Europe, Asia and Beyond

Utopia or social dreaming is place of dreams, a place of the good, and a place which is nowhere to be found: paradox, ambiguity, and janus-facedness are embedded in a very modern punning coupling of the good, ‘eu’, and the nonexistent, ‘ou’, made by Thomas More in his Greek neologism ‘utopia’, title of his eponymous book, which was written in Latin (1516). Moored and yet in recent years unmoored from its Eurocentric roots, utopia has become more than a word or a culture-specific term; coined at a formative moment of European modernity, the utopian mode crosses cultures. We are also living through a transcultural turn in the field of cultural history, with foci on flows and transfers between cultures, defined non-monoclonally, and on what happens as a result of encounters between cultures. The framework of connected, entangled histories is also highly generative. Highlighting the global interconnectedness of histories in the modern world, the new historiography argues for multicentric histories, analyzing intriguing relationships, collaborations, and conversations between different categories of cultural historical actors and systems in Europe and Asia, with careful attention to differentiations and hierarchies. Transnational and transcultural networks form a focus.

This working group wishes to build a community and get national visibility. They shall offer and get feedback on draft book chapters and articles in a field, namely utopia in connected, entangled, and non-Eurocentric perspective, that is under-recognized institutionally in the Dutch context. Furthermore, they hold feedback-intensive lectures, read pre-circulated work, invite lectures scholars and organize guest lectures and open seminars.

Organizers:

  • Dr Barnita Bagchi (Comparative Literature, Utrecht University), coordinator;
  • Dr Maja Vodopivec (Japanese Studies, Leiden University College and Leiden University);
  • Dr Carolien Stolte (International and South Asian Studies, Leiden University);
  • Dr Vera Alexander (European Languages and Cultures, Rijksuniversiteir Groningen);
  • Dr Sanjukta Sunderason (International and South Asian History, Leiden University).