Mapping Utopianisms

Description of the research group

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.

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 not only in Porto the 2004 international annual conference, but also that held in 2009. CETAPS will also host the 2016 international conference, meant to commemorate the 500 th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia, in Lisbon

Over this period, the team has benefited from the work of young researchers who became involved in the group’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), from film to theatre, from installations to the performing arts. 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 are now involved in the organization of the annual conference of EurSafe – European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics, to be held in Porto in September 2016.

The Mapping Dreams team has also created Spaces of Utopia: An Electronic Journal, published annually since 2004 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 is undertaken alternately by the senior members of the team.

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. Currently, the team is coordinating, 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 has benefited from the work of a considerable number of ERASMUS + programme students that have been working / will work over 2016 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.