(University of Sunderland)

“Radical Utopianism and Complicity”

I have been working on radical utopianism for several years. The project has so far produced two books, a book chapter, a journal article and seven keynote conference papers in China, Germany, Macau, Spain and the UK. Radical utopianism, I argue, seeks to bring about a ‘radical unfolding’ of what we usually take for granted. My concern with complicity, therefore, is almost entirely focused on how we might be encouraged to break with its dulling impact on hope, imagination and social change. In Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies I presented a rather abstract account of how I think this might work. In my most recent book, Consuming Utopia, I attempt to make the connection between utopianism and complicity much more concrete, as I try to tease out what we can claim, and what we can hope for, when we deploy the term ‘the politics of utopian fiction’. My expectation from the ‘complicity network’ as proposed by Conny Wächter is that it will enable me to more adequately approach and answer such questions. I have no doubt that the conference organised by Conny Wächter in 2016 had a profound impact on my thinking and I am convinced that taking part in the proposed ‘complicity network’ would do a great deal more than simply repeat this beneficial experience.