Conference The time of utopia. In search of lost future

18-20.08.2016

The year 2016, marking the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia, the 10th anniversary of Stanisław Lem’s death and the 150th anniversary of George Herbert Wells’ birth, was a perfect moment to analyse the revival of utopian thinking in culture and socio-political thought.

Thinking and dreaming about the future oscillates between two extremes: a utopian paradise on earth and a dystopian apocalypse. Any optimistic vision of the future, depicting a world with no wars, poverty, famine or diseases, can be countered with at least one harbinger of doom. Popular culture, too, thrives on visions of paradise and apocalypse; both are also supported by outstanding patrons, whose intellectual rigour has influenced our thinking about the future: Ernst Bloch, Hans Jonas, Stanisław Lem or Pope Francis are but a few contemporary personalities who have left their mark on popular culture.

The possibility of averting an apocalypse and looking for the lost future were discussed during a three-day conference held in the Old Town Hall and the seat of the Polish Engineering Association. Among the discussants were James Hughes, a bioethicist and sociologist, the Associate Provost of the University of Massachusetts in Boston; Inna Shevchenko, a FEMEN activist; Leonidas Donskis, a Lithuanian philosopher, historian of ideas and writer; and Stefan Sorgner, the founder and director of the Beyond Humanism Network.

 

CURATORS: Edwin Bendyk in cooperation with Aleksandra Przegalińska, Mirosław Filiciak, Aleksander Tarkowski and Tomasz Targański

DEBATE: Central Europe: a space of utopia or the realm of Ubu the King?
PANELISTS: Radka Denemarkova, Katarzyna Uczkiewicz, Leonidas Donskis, Mykoła Riabczuk
MODERATION: Edwin Bendyk

BLOCK I – Introduction to utopia
LECTURES: Arno Münster, Leonidas Donskis, Przemysław Czapliński
BLOCK MODERATION: Aleksander Kaczorowski

BLOCK II – The temptation of immortality: from technoutopia to transhumanism
LECTURES: James Hughes, Stefan Sorgner, Dominika Kozłowska, Katarzyna Szymielewicz
BLOCK MODERATION: Mirosław Filiciak i Aleksander Tarkowski

BLOCK III – Postcapitalism and other alternatives
LECTURES: Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Inna Szewczenko, Tomasz Rakowski, Mikhail Akulov
BLOCK MODERATION: Edwin Bendyk

BLOCK IV – Solidarity: myth, utopia, uncomfortable past
LECTURE: Jadwiga Staniszkis
DEBATE: Ewa Majewska, Jan Sowa, Leszek Jażdżewski, Krzysztof Mazur
BLOCK MODERATION: Jacek Kołtan