Utopia, Dystopia and Peace Imaginaries

How does utopian and dystopian thinking limit or expand our views and hopes for a better future? Staff from the Centre for Peace Studies will introduce these issues and invite all to join the discussion! 

Intrigued by Rutger Bregman’s book “Utopia for realists” and his claim that it’s time to return to utopian thinking, CPS staff will draw on imaginaries of utopias as well as dystopias:

Christine Smith-Simonsen: Egalia’s Daughters and the power of language

Gerd Brantenberg’s book, Egalia’s Daughters, presents us with a utopian society with flipped gender roles. While the setting is thought provoking, even for today’s relatively gender equal Norwegian society, it is the language that is mind blowing. Having exchanged every male connotation with female connotation in every word possible, the text needs some getting used to before one can read fluently – and it makes a very clear point as to how gender biased our language is, and how it inevitably affects our frames of perception.

Sladjana Lazic: Utopian thinking as transformative and decolonial impulse for ‘peace-not-yet-in-being’?

By using lyrically satisfying debut novel, Tales from the Town of Widows & Chronicles from the Land of Men by James Canon, I will try to link utopian thinking with decolonial thinking about peace. In light of decolonial discussions, I will ask whether utopian thinking could provide transformative impulse that would disrupt Western universalist notion of peace and provide impetus for the ‘pluriverse’ forms of peace that is not yet in being?

Elisabeth Sandersen: Short introduction of Rutger Bregman’s book “Utopia for realists”

Gunhild Gjørv:
Utopia/Dystopia, Heaven/Hell – and Peace from Below

The topic of utopia/dystopia is highly relevant to imaginings (or lack thereof) of peace. In this talk I examine the linkages of ideas of heaven and hell with utopia and dystopia, where rather than seeing these disconnected or as two poles, we can’t get to heaven without acknowledging the hell within us. Dystopia lies within utopia. This connects to the notion of «peace from below» which often embodies a utopian narrative of the valorisation of «the local» as the true sources of peace, as if being «local» is inherently peaceful. Engaging the local is imperative, but misunderstanding the complexity of the local can lead to dystopias emerging from dysfunctional systems that are supported/perpetuated by parts of the local. I will discuss the internalisations of utopia and dystopia across levels (local to national/social structural)  and the danger of utopias creating dystopias.

At Perspektivet Museum in Storgata 95, Sunday November 17th at 12.00 – 14.00. Welcome!

Photo: Brøndbo foto