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Transgressive Utopianism

Essays in Honor of Lucy Sargisson

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Edited By Raffaella Baccolini and Lyman Tower Sargent

In 2014, when Lucy Sargisson was promoted to professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, at the University of Nottingham, she became the first and, so far, only, professor of utopian studies. This choice symbolized the centrality of utopianism to her life, thought, and educational practice. In three books, each in their own way groundbreaking, a fourth book co-authored by one of us, and in important articles, her work falls into four primary areas: political theory, feminism, environmentalism, and intentional communities, with much of her work intersecting two, three, or even all four. And in all her work, she brings the lens of utopianism to bear on the subject and, in doing so, illuminates both utopianism and the subject at hand. The volume honors Sargisson’s contributions to the field of utopian studies, with contributions by Ibtisam Ahmed, Raffaella Baccolini, David M. Bell, Suryamayi Clarence-Smith, Chris Coates, Elena Colombo, Davina Cooper, Rhiannon Firth, Ruth Levitas, Sarah Lohmann, Almudena Machado-Jiménez, Dunja M. Mohr, Tom Moylan, Robyn Muir, José Reis, Lyman Tower Sargent, Lucy Sargisson, Simon Spiegel, Maria Varsam, and Laura Winter.

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Utopia, Pedagogy, and Care: A Conversation

IBTISAM AHMED, DAVID M. BELL, ELENA COLOMBO, AND ROBYN MUIR

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The following is an edited transcript of a conversation among three of Lucy Sargisson’s current PhD students (Ibtisam Ahmed, Elena Colombo, and Robyn Muir) and one former PhD student (David M. Bell). With the exception of Elena, all of us were also taught by Lucy as undergraduates. In discussing our pedagogical experiences with Lucy, we realized that we had all been profoundly affected not just by her expertise in and enthusiasm for feminist utopian social theory, but by her astounding capacity for care. The conversation thus gave us the chance to explore not only how Lucy’s work has shaped our own work in the field of utopian studies (Ibtisam, Elena, and David) and feminist cultural studies (Robyn), but to acknowledge the manner in which this care has mediated our pedagogical relationships with her. In the spirit of a utopianism that undoes and remakes the world, we also interrogate the relationships between Lucy’s utopian theory, her pedagogy, and her care, critically situating them in relation to an academic milieu that is all too frequently uncaring, and profoundly dystopian.

david: I first encountered Lucy when an undergraduate studying Politics at the University of Nottingham, where I was taught by her on a number of modules, most notably Feminist Political Theory and Political Utopianism. Unlike much of what I encountered on my degree, these didn’t take the post-political terrain of technocratic governance as a given, but encouraged students to ←197 | 198→challenge and unpick assumptions, returning the world once again to...

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