In Richard's keynote, our focus was determinedly contemporary. In the last session, we've turned ourselves towards a consideration of the relationship between utopia and the past. Not only have we seen utopias which once were presented and have since been changed or lost, but we have, too, engaged with how we make our own, new, utopias from those elements of the past - through nostalgia or reconceptualisation.
We've considered institutional ideals, external pressures political, financial and cultural, material goods and buildings, and, importantly, the human actants which all contribute to the generation of these various, malleable, utopias. All of these various factors, sentient or otherwise, exist in a set of reciprocal relations. It might be imagined by some that the utopias presented here, so diverse and mutable are they, there there is nothing upon which we can fix. There is nothing practical towards which we can aim.
I would argue, however, that this is not the case. Rather, the fact that we can see all these many elements shows us that it is in those localized situations, those negotiated and contingent sets of rules in which we can find meaning; in which we can find utopias, and utopian ideals which can, at least, operate in a practical, sensible, and effective way, even if constrained by their temporal or physical situation.
I hope you'll follow us further, because in the next session, 'Personal Utopias', we'll be looking at some of those inner, independent, and personal sites - at those contingent moments in which utopias are born and in which they cease. Take a break, grab a sandwich, and come to follow us again after 1pm...