Thursday, 30 January
Autonomy Now presents: 'Journey Through Utopia' with Matthew S. Adams, Rhiannon Firth, and Tim Waterman
January’s Autonomy Now event considers utopian thought in dystopian times.
Join Matthew S. Adams, Rhiannon Firth, and Tim Waterman for a lively discussion about historical and contemporary visions of utopia, framed with reference to the life and writings of Marie Louise Berneri, author of Journey through Utopia.
Journey through Utopia is a richly detailed and critically compelling examination of utopian literature, beginning with Plato’s Republic and continuing through to Huxley’s Brave New World. Utopias have been penned with diverse intentions: some as pictures of an ideal society, some as blueprints for action, yet others, especially in times of severe censorship, as covert criticisms of existing conditions.
Marie Louise Berneri exposes the dark shadow that lingers above most utopian works by emphasising the intolerant and authoritarian nature of these visions, and she warns of the doom that awaits those foolish enough to put their trust in an ordered and regimented world.
This new edition is framed with an Introduction from Matthew S. Adams that situates Berneri’s work in the context of her life, and concludes with an Afterword from Rhiannon Firth that extends Berneri’s analysis into contemporary utopias. Journey through Utopia is a necessary companion, and in many cases an antidote, to imagined fictions from antiquity to the present.
Praise for the book:
“Marie Louise Berneri identifies the authoritarian Utopian State as a concept running through much of the literature. A desire to orchestrate good behaviour through various hierarchical arrangements, analogous to a mechanical system with predictable results ensured by regulated consistent behavior, is a dark shadow over many utopias.” —Chris Carlsson, author of Nowtopia
“Berneri’s wide-ranging selection of readings constitutes a superb introduction to the history of utopian thought, and her often brilliant and insightful commentary remains highly illuminating.” —John P. Clark, author of The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism
“Berneri’s comments, explicit and implicit, are for the most part acutely discerning. . . . This is a fascinating work.” —Times Literary Supplement
Matthew S. Adams is lecturer in politics, history, and communication at Loughborough University. He is the author of Kropotkin, Read, and the Intellectual History of British Anarchismand co-editor of Anarchism, 1914–1918 and The Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism.
Rhiannon Firth is senior research officer in sociology at the University of Essex. Her research interests include utopian political theory, anarchist social movements, prefigurative spatial practices, alternative epistemologies, and critical pedagogy. She is the author of Utopian Politics: Citizenship and Practice, which involved ethnographic research with several intentional communities, housing cooperatives, and autonomous social centres around the UK.
Tim Waterman is Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Tim authored Fundamentals of Landscape Architecture, which is now in its second edition from Bloomsbury and, along with Ed Wall, Basics Landscape Architecture: Urban Design. His writing is regularly found in the pages of Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM), The Architects’ Journal, andGarden Design Journal, among others.