Praxis Seminar: Research Colloquium in Practical Philosophy 2020/21, Session 6

Ricardo Mendoza-Canales

Praxis-CFUL, University of Lisbon

Inhabiting Utopia

15 December 2020, 18h00 (Lisbon Time — GMT+0)

Online seminar (Zoom link here)



A distinctive feature of utopian narratives throughout history has been the close relationship between imagination and politics. From its first formulation in Plato’s Republic, utopias have been associated with imaginary and alternative conceptions of reality. Due to its both “out-of-place” and “out-of-time” character, utopia has been considered either an a-historical, chimerical and, therefore, unfeasible reality; or as an anticipation, a future task or a desirable aim towards which to orient transformative action. In either case, utopian narratives fulfill a social and political function, since they deal with representations of social structures, cultural forms, values, beliefs, and aesthetic ideals. In this spirit, and as I will develop in my paper, I will argue that “inhabiting utopia” exists through the performative appropriation of the relationship between imagination and reality: on the one hand, it is an appropriation because it is a type of embodied cognition; on the other hand, it is performative because the materialization of the imaginary is rendered by means of action. My conclusion is that inhabiting utopia is a manner of shaping reality that also encompasses a double ethical demand, both for liberation and for resistance: for resistance facing material and discursive hegemonic practices, and for liberation due to its emancipatory spirit.