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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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The Strangest Place: Thoughts on Being a Guest at Your Own Funeral, or “Regrets, I Have a Few”

LUCY SARGISSON

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Imagine that you’re sitting in the outer ring of a small theatre, set in the round. Light streams in through huge windows. A soft breeze plays around the room, bringing gentle scents of rose and geranium and salty fresh air. Whenever silence falls in the room, as it often does, gentle sounds of the sea can be heard from outside. Waves over pebbles. You’re watching and listening. Awed. Every now and then, someone rises from their seat and walks down to the stage, where they say a few words – or a lot of words – before resuming their seat. Some of these people are close friends of yours. Some have been your mentors. Some are people you’ve met a few times. Some you haven’t met before. And, because it’s your funeral, everyone is saying something that relates, somehow, to you. Suddenly, everyone turns to face you and you’re invited to respond. What would you say? This is surely the strangest place you’ve ever been.

People who have met me will know that I am rarely lost for words. But I am now. Perhaps it’s the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (I took early retirement in 2017 at the age of 53 because the M.S. with which I lived, worked, and struggled for sixteen years had deteriorated to the point at which I could not continue), but I really don’t think so … I think this is just an impossible task.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to...

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