Extraordinary and Everyday Utopias: Shaping Shared Futures

Imagining better futures

The University of Brighton’s Creative Futures theme is to host a one-day symposium based around visions of a utopian future.

The event, which takes place at Grand Parade on 11 July, is entitled ‘Extraordinary and Everyday Utopias: Shaping Shared Futures’. It has been co-organised by Dr Jessica Moriarty, Course Leader for Creative Writing BA and MA, and Dr Matthew Adams, Principal Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science.

Bringing together academics, students, writers, artists and practitioners from across the world, the symposium seeks to explore how we can imagine better futures.

Dr Moriarty and Dr Adams said: “It seems we are often drawn to dystopian, rather than utopian visions of the future. Think Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or the recent BBC mini-series Years & Years. We have put together this event together as a space for exploring more positive narratives.

“We asked academics, students, writers, artists and practitioners to share ideas that engage critically with contemporary issues, but emphasise understandings of the future that are distinctly utopian. The many responses we received following an initial call for papers suggests that in difficult times it is possible to collectively imagine better futures.”

“This event will champion work that challenges both catastrophising visions of the future, which can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and fatalism, and complacent visions, which can encourage indifference and apathy.”

Speakers include Sohaila Abdulali, activist and author of ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape’; Sophie Lewis, feminist activist and author of ‘Full Surrogacy Now’; and Miguel Amortegui, photographer, social commentator and author of Voices of the Jungle.

Explaining the criteria behind the speakers programme, Dr Moriarty said: “The conference will provide a space for better conversations around real life issues that threaten to alter how we live. Our keynote speaker Sohaila Abdulali will discuss issues surrounding consent and the choices we might make in a more ideal world.

“Our other keynote, Miguel Amortegui, is an international photographer who works with refugees on images that focus on the person in the photo and their unique stories. We are excited about the discussions and possible ways forward that these two outstanding speakers will inspire.”

The symposium also entails an art exhibition and a performance by Murmuration Arts. This is a free event but booking is essential. View the full programme and book here.

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