Annual conference

GCfE 10th Annual Conference

Between Utopia and Dystopia. Redefining Europe Today

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

Conference programme

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’?

Keynote speakers

Professor Gregory Claeys (Royal Holloway, University of London)
European Utopias and Dystopias: Past, Present and Future

Dr Ulrike Guérot (European Democracy Lab, European School of Governance, Berlin)
Why Europe Needs to Become a Republic. A political Utopia