German Studies Association (GSA), 37th Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado, October 3-6, 2013
The financial crisis of 2008 punctured a hole in the prevailing global ideology of the “end of history” and has subsequently triggered a search for new, alternative visions of society and modes of living. The dissatisfaction suggested by the instability of the present order seems to be fertile ground for a re-emerging desire for utopia.
One hesitates to discuss utopia in the present on account of its negative historical image, endowed as it is with a certain overly programmatic and apodictic connotation. However, has not this weariness of potentially absolute or exclusionary notions become so prevalent that it might be regarded itself as absolute or exclusionary? In other words, is not the abandonment of the utopian project already a utopian gesture?
The reemerging desire for a formulation of an alternative present invites us to revisit the utopian failures of the past: What might we learn by reexamining the utopian project in the work of writers such as Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, Bloch, Benjamin, Marcuse, Althusser, and Angela Davis among others? More specifically, this panel seeks to explore, first, how utopian projects stage their techniques of persuasion, and, second, how these efforts, both despite and on account of their paradoxical character and historical failure, nevertheless relate ineluctably to the dissatisfaction of the present moment.
Please send abstracts of up to 300 words to Joshua Alvizu (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Marc Petersdorff (email@example.com) by February 1, 2013.
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