ON UTOPIAN THINKING: LITERATURE AND THE IMAGINATION OF THE FUTURE TO COME

  • Simon Gikandi Princeton University
Keywords: Idealism, social change, postcolonial literature, utopia, utopian thinking

Abstract

The concept of utopia, which seems to have lost its conceptual power in the second half of the twentieth century, is increasingly returning to the center of debates on the relationship between literature and social change. Utopian thinking is now seen as a fundamental space for coming to terms with the present age—an age defined by pandemics, environmental destruction, and the threat to the narrative of freedom. But how do we go about rehabilitating utopia—itself a product of the long history of European domination—and make it adaptable to our postcolonial situation? How can the utopic be harnessed as an alternative way of imagining postcolonial futures? And is it capable of restoring idealism as a horizon of our expectations and as a precondition for freedom? Drawing on texts from the discourse of decolonization debates about utopian thinking in works of postcolonial literature and neo-Marxist criticism, my paper will address some of the ways in which the imaginative is asked to sustain the idea of an alternative society in moments of crisis and atrophy.
Published
2022-02-14
Section
Featured Articles