Latin American Utopian Visions: A Critical Look for the 21st Century

April 19, 2013 - April 20, 2013
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Cambridge University

Cambridge
United Kingdom

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Organisers:

Sandra Brunnegger
Cambridge University
Karen Faulk
Carnegie Mellon University

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Latin America currently stands at a crossroads. The demise of neoliberalism as the hegemonic ideological force across much of the continent has led many inhabitants and observers of Latin America to publicly reopen fundamental questions as to the future and direction of the region and its nations. Democracy, citizen participation, participatory budgeting, human rights, resource nationalization, and pan-indigenous projects have all, at varying moments and in different ways, been invoked as fundamental principles for forging a new ideal future. At this critical juncture, a re-examination of the role of idealist visions in Latin America's political programs and cultural production can reveal the multiple entanglements and implicit assumptions underlying these visions.
 
This conference seeks to bring together recent scholarship on how utopian visions have shaped Latin America throughout its history. Uniting work from across and between disciplinary boundaries, the conference looks to explore the history, construction, contexts, and effects of imagined utopias, as well as, and crucially, the interrelations between them. From its inception as an ideologically constituted unit born of the colonial encounter, Latin America has been a subject and producer of idealized imaginaries of universal order and humanity's place within it. Its relegation to Europe's 'savage slot' (Trouillot 2003) and the projections of European escapist fantasies onto its terrain was a fundamental determinant of colonial policy for several hundred years. In exploring a range of utopian visions, from the lasting allure of communist revolution to the idealist programs that directed modernism's drive to develop, this conference explores the multifarious ways in which Latin America has served as the landscape upon which utopian ideas have been imagined, designed, and attempted. Furthermore, in bringing together a diverse set of scholarship, the conference aims to excavate the complex entanglements and overlaps between seemingly contradictory but inherently intertwined elements of different utopias. Fundamentally, the conference seeks to serve as a forum for productive discussion and debate of the nature and potential in contemporary utopian visions, or in what Fernando Coronil has described as "the present-day future imaginary" (2010).

Contact: Dr Sandra Brunnegger (sb529@cam.ac.uk)

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