This Special Collection considers contested poetics of place through the prism of the expectant, the anticipatory, the Not-­Yet, and the utopian. It investigates the ways in which futures are (and have been) imagined, governed, projected, deferred and deterred through a variety of disciplinary formations; and explores the effects of competing ways of conceiving futurity. Articles interrogate utopianism itself, exploring the place-making poetics of utopian desire, affect, and agency vis-­à-­vis the politics of contestation, challenge and transformation. Others consider the specificity of politics and poetics, and the relations of connectivity between these approaches; asking crucial questions such as: Is politics necessarily reducible to calculative and instrumental modes of grasping the future? Is poetics more attuned to the epistemological and ontological uncertainty of the future, to what has not and might not happen? And, how are places (re)made by way of these interactions? Drawing on literary and political theory; architecture and urban planning; and art historical criticism, the collection explores the challenges facing and potentials of utopian thinking at a time when dystopia seems triumphant, in both the bestseller's chart and geopolitical reality.

The work presented here was supported by the Leverhulme International Research Network Imaginaries of the Future: Historicising the Present (2014-2017), which was dedicated to thinking through how we (might) think about the future. The network did not advance specific visions of the future as such, but rather sought to develop strategies for conceptualising ‘the future’ without doing violence to the bodies that might inhabit and (re)produce it. Its focus was utopian rather than futurological, and it was grounded in the knowledge that the utopian cannot be reduced to the fanciful, impossible or authoritarian. Many of the articles in this collection were presented at one of the network's six symposia, and all adhere to the spirit of the network. This collection in particular draws on papers presented at or which resonate with two of the networks' symposiums: 'In the Regions of Utopia', held at Newcastle University in 2015, and 'Utopian Politics and Poetics', held at Queens University, Belfast, in 2016, in collaboration with the network's partners Susan McManus, Queens University, Belfast; and Tom Moylan, of the Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies, University of Limerick.

Two further volumes are in publication with the Open Library of Humanities: Bodies and Media and Utopia at the Border.

This Special Collection was co-edited by Dr Nathaniel Coleman, Imaginaries of the Future Research Lead, Dr David M. Bell, Imaginaries of the Future Network Facilitator (2015-17), and Dr Adam Stock, Imaginaries of the Future Network Facilitator (2014-15).

Featured image by Thomas Hawk shared under a CC BY-NC license.

Imaginaries of the Future 01: Bodies & Media

Imaginaries of the Future 02: Politics, Poetics, Place

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Special Collections