Annual conference

GCfE 10th Annual Conference

Between Utopia and Dystopia. Redefining Europe Today

Wednesday/Thursday, 16-17 March 2016, University of Birmingham

Call for papers

When Thomas More published his work Utopia in 1516, he tried to envision a place with a perfect political system, and describe the social and cultural life in such a place.  But what is “perfect”? The question has received many different and even contradictory answers – from writers, politicians, civil activists and artists. Five hundred years after More, all that appears clear is that we are not there yet – utopia has remained an elusive ideal.

Arguably, the creation of the European Community/European Union after World War II was a utopian project to make war unthinkable and materially impossible and to reinforce democracy between the members. But in spite of the long-lasting peace and the unification of almost the entire European continent, the EU today is rarely seen as utopian, sometimes it is even considered as dystopian, undesirable place.

Is it possible to imagine a utopian future for Europe? How would this “Eutopia” look like, in terms of politics, but also in terms of its economic, ecologic, and social makeup? And in which direction is Europe currently steering? Towards a dystopian surveillance regime, threatened by climate change, mass immigration and authoritarian tendencies? Or are there positive ideas and developments which point a way out of the ‘perpetual crisis’?

The conference aims to explore the current tensions between utopia and dystopia within Europe in light of recent events, such as the European refugee crisis. We would welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines, questioning what a utopian Europe should look like from a political, economic, geographical, philosophical and artistic point of view. Subjects to be considered may include but are not limited to:

  • European Identities
  • European and Worldwide Relations
  • Artistic Representations of Europe
  • Topics in Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Studies
  • Religious Struggles inside Europe
  • Europeanization and Domestic Change
  • Nationalisms in Europe
  • European Debt Crisis
  • European Conflicts
  • Immigrants and Refugees Issues
  • New Economic Models in Europe
  • Sustainability and Ecologic Governance
  • The Influence of IT on European Society
  • Other relevant topics

Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the conference, as well as a conference dinner on the first evening. A number of bursaries will also be available to assist with travel and accommodation expenses.

If you would like to present at the conference, please send an abstract of 200-300 words, along with your contact details and a brief biographical note, to by 18th December 2015.