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Utopia 1/13: Critical Theoretic Foundations for Concrete Utopias with Étienne Balibar

13/13 Seminar Series

dateSeptember 28, 2022 timeWednesday, 6:15pm–8:45pm EDT location Buell Hall, Maison Française, Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Headshot of Étienne Balibar

Étienne Balibar will open the inaugural session of Utopia 1/13 with a lecture: "Uncovering lines of escape: towards a concept of concrete utopia in the age of catastrophes."

In his lecture, “Uncovering lines of escape: towards a concept of concrete utopia in the age of catastrophes,” the philosopher Étienne Balibar will touch on three dimensions of the urgency of rethinking concrete utopias in these times of crises: first, Balibar will discuss the dilemmas surrounding the concept of utopia and utopian thinking, without which there could be no “radical” politics, but at a time and in an age of at least two major catastrophes (the climate, and the digital); second, Balibar withexplore “real” or “concrete” utopias in light of the Foucauldian distinction between “utopias” and “heterotopias,” which could also be interpreted as a conversion of utopia into heterotopias; third, Balibar will then conclude on the transcendental problems of the different modalities of the “possible,” the “impossible,” the “necessary,” the “inevitable,” in their relationship to a concept of time (e.g. Bloch’s time of “not-yet”), as displaced by the questioning of “utopia” in today’s catastrophic circumstances.

Etienne Balibar and Bernard E. Harcourt will read and discuss the following texts:

Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1847)
Ernst Bloch, The Spirit of Utopia (1918)Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias” (1967/1984)
Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future (2005)
Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandonia(2005)
Erik Olin Wright, Envisioning Real Utopias (Verso 2010)
and Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics (2013)
(all readings are available online here)

About the 13/13 Seminars: Each year, the 13/13 public seminars focus on a different set of problematics at the very heart of contemporary critical thought. This year, we will focus on the concept of utopia at Utopia 13/13.