Utopia and Utopianism in the Contemporary Chinese Context: Texts, Ideas, Spaces

 03/20/2015 / 03/21/2015

 All Day
 University of Hong Kong, Kong Siu Luey Hall, Robert Black College


French Centre for Research on Contemporary China

Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong 


English and Mandarin



The disintegration of socialist ideology, the devastations caused by the ultra-liberal economy and the threat of ecological and geopolitical disasters, explain the general disenchantment and discredit of utopia today. It has become difficult to ignore the growing body of dystopian literature published recently in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the rest of the Sinophone world. Undoubtedly, these spatial and temporal projections of dystopia carry dark allegories about History and the present, suggesting that they take an ironic view of the current harmonious dreams of a powerful State. However, at the same time their critical awareness can be drowned out by apocalyptic fatalism or cynicism. The end of Utopia and the retreat from politics have become a new vulgate.

Reversing the perspective, this conference therefore proposes to reflect anew on the idea of utopia, both analyzing how it has been debated, while at the same time emphasizing the persistence of utopianism and, particularly, its irreducible socially critical and politically imaginative function. For this purpose, three levels, text, thought and society, are suggested as areas of discussion. Participants would examine how various genres, discourses, ways of expression, including literature, social sciences and visuals arts, independently and in interaction, have framed the debate on utopias in the Chinese context, drawing on a large corpus that runs from the modern period up to the present day. The conference aims at historicizing and problematizing both the essential and contingent aspects of utopia, paying particular attention to the political commitment to utopianism and the possibilities it provides in terms of building social spaces. Presentations will be articulated around (but should not be, of course, limited to) the following issues: (1) Political critiques : totalitarian utopia and/vs. democratic utopianism; (2) Social spaces : on State and Nation and/vs. building of Civil Society; (3) Emancipation projects : paradoxes of modernity and/vs. human-centered ethics.

For further information of the conference, please click here <UtopiaProgram> to download the PDF version of the program.


March 20

1) Intellectual Visions. 9:00-15:30

2) Keynote Speech by Prof. David Der-wei Wang. 16:30-17:30

March 21

1) Literary Discourses, 9:00-11.30

2) Hong Kong Paradigm, 13:30-15:00

3) Writers’ Forum and General Discussion, with Chan Koonchung, Han Shaogong, Leo Ou-fan Lee, 15:00-17:00

4) Film Screening, “Making Friends with Mr. Zhang” by Cao Diao, 17:30-19:30