Accepted paper:

Utopia and time: rethinking temporality through utopian thought and practice


Ruy Blanes (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I propose to debate the temporal dimensions of utopian thinking and practice, and question its ethnographic interest.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, invoking my ongoing research on prophetic and messianic movements in Angola, I propose to explore the temporal dimensions of utopian thinking by linking the concept of utopia to specific expressions of social and political activity. Revisiting classical theories that frame utopia as a 'future perfect', I will argue that, as a value, utopia is not so much an idealized future - a 'modern utopia', as H.G. Wells had imagined - but a temporalizing operation that offers more complex explications for the present and the past. I will work on top of the Aristotelian metaphysical notions of 'energeia' and 'dynamis', that is, the correlation of potentiality and actuality, to suggest that utopia, more than an abstract, non existent ideal, can be object of specific temporalizations and localizations that can be object of ethnographic study.

panel P063
Anthropological utopias: debating personal, political and idealist expectations in the intersection of theory and ethnographic practice