Synopses & Reviews
The concept of utopia remains as urgent and relevant as ever, nearly 500 years after being coined by Sir Thomas More. Paying the concept too much respect by reducing it to a Morean perfection; or pushing it too far by relocating utopia from the spatial to the cognitive or the temporal reduces its conceptual power. To understand what it is that the concept 'utopia' might do it is necessary to pay it a 'subversive fidelity'.
Returning to the three constituent parts of the word: 'good' (eu), 'place' (topos) and 'no' (ou); David M. Bell reflects how these words might be thought 'nomadically' that is, via a constellation of theory that asserts the importance of immanent, affective relations and posits difference as ontologically prior to identity. The 'good' draws on Deleuze and Spinoza's affective ethical thought; 'place' from contemporary political geography; and the 'no' theorized via a reading of Ahmed's critique of happiness and Foucault's work on power. Bell engages with a variety of practices and forms to illustrate and develop its concepts, including popular education/critical pedagogy; the Occupy movement; musical performance; and utopian literature.
Bell s rethinking of utopia's etymology offers a new way of thinking utopia that helps overcome some of the binary oppositions that structure current thinking about the topic. It allows utopia to be thought in terms of place and process; affirmation and negation; and the real and the imaginary. This volume will be among the first to offer an extended reading of utopia through the lens of affect, whilst maintaining a critical stance vis a vis much of the recent 'affective turn' in the social sciences.