Mapping Utopianisms

Description of the Research Area

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The team was created in 2004 after the 5th International Conference of the Utopian Studies Society / Europe held in Porto. This event brought together a concentration of Portuguese academics working in the field of Utopian Studies. After the conference, researchers from four Portuguese universities – Porto, New University of Lisbon, Coimbra and Aveiro – created the Mapping Dreams: British and North American Utopianism project (later shortened to Mapping Utopianisms).

From the outset, the team has networked with foreign research centres and academics affiliated to the universities of Bologna (Italy) and Limerick (Ireland). Further to this, it has developed collaborative work with the universities of Carlos III (Madrid), Lublin (Poland), Cyprus, Campinas (Brazil), Federal de Alagoas (Brazil) and the Central European University (Hungary). The team is also closely connected with the Utopian Studies Society / Europe, having hosted three international anual conferences in 2004 (Porto), in 2009 (Porto) and 2016 (Lisbon)

Over this period, the team has benefited from the work of young researchers who became involved in the research area’s activities when they were studying on MA courses and are now either holders of PhDs or are preparing their Doctoral dissertations. The energy and diversity of interests of this taskforce of young researchers have influenced the new research directions the team is currently taking. If, in the past, attention has been paid mainly to literary utopianism, the team is now investing in a systematic examination of the way utopianism has influenced, in recent decades, the construction of contemporary thought. The scope of the research has been broadened, and attention is now being paid to artistic areas where both utopian and dystopian thought predominates. Thus, the research corpus includes not only the texts that fall into the category of what we would call conventional literary utopianism (following the narrative structure defined by More), but also other literary forms, from graphic novels to hyperutopias (literary texts posted on the Internet) and to fan fiction. A new line of research has also been created to study the intersection between Utopian Studies and Food Studies, and is now providing the theoretical framework for the research projects of some of the young researchers. As a result of this new interest, the team members were involved in the organization of the annual conference of EurSafe – European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics, held in Porto in September 2016, and more recently of the More Meals to Come International Conference held in Porto in March 2019.

The Mapping Utopianisms team has also created Spaces of Utopia: An Electronic Journal, published annually from 2004 to 2014 by the Digital Library of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto. The editorial responsibility for the annual publication of the journal was undertaken alternately by the senior members of the team. The team is now planning to launch a new version of the journal which will integrate CETAPS’ investment in the field of the Digital Humanities.

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For several years, the team has also invested in high impact outreach activities, of which Eurotopia 2100 (from 2008 to 2010) and PAN-Utopia 2100 (from 2012 onwards) are key examples. In 2016, the team created, along with the Utopian Studies Society, “Utopia 500: A Commemorative Programme of the 500 anniversary of the Publication of Thomas More’s Utopia. This programme benefited from the work of a considerable number of ERASMUS + programme students that did their Erasmus traineeship at the University of Porto.

The team has also invested in the presentation of papers at international conferences all over the world. These further manifested as publications in peer-review journals such as Utopian Studies, Morus, Utopolis, Journal of the Seneca University, Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, Études Britanniques Contemporaines, Femspec, Utopia and Utopianism, and volumes published in English with international distribution (Cambridge University Press, U.Porto Editorial, Praeger Publishers).

The team is also responsible for the creation of a Doctoral programme in Literary, Cultural and Interartistic Studies with a specialism in Utopian Studies at the University of Porto.

Currently, 15 members of the team are working on the ALIMENTOPIA research project, which has resulted in the production of a variety of outputs (such as collaborative publications, workshops, conferences, and databases and activities of citizen science). This has enabled the team to experiment new collaborative ways of doing research and conveying the results to a wider public.

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The Coordinator of this Research Area was the Chair of the Utopian Studies Society from 2006 to 2016, and is now part of the Directive Board of the Society, along with another member of CETAPS.